Crusaders defeat Oil Barons 2-1

They dug themselves into an early hole, ran into a hot goaltender and couldn’t catch the bounces. A big, tough, and physical Sherwood Park Crusaders club shoved their way to a 2-1 win over the Oil Barons in the MOB’s final pre-season game, finishing the preliminary schedule with a record of 0-5.

The Crusaders used their size to barrel in on starting goaltender Ravi Dattani a number of times in the first period, it created enough space for them to slip two goals courtesy of Tyler Maltby and Brett Van Os.

“I thought there were times where we looked a little bit intimidated but I also liked the fact that in the second period we sort of stood up for ourselves as well but it took us awhile to get going,” said Tom Keca, Oil Barons Head Coach. “They drive the net extremely hard and it forces you to either let them do it or stand up, and I think at times our boys stood up for our goaltenders.”

The Oil Barons came out hard in the second period outshooting Sherwood Park 17-8 but Crusaders goaltender Zac Klassen was in mid-season form and held the MOB off the score sheet until early in the third. That’s when Jake Wozney converted on the power play just 59 seconds in to pull the Oil Barons within a goal.

That’s all the scoring the Oil Barons would get even with Eric Szudor coming into the game midway thru the second frame and pitching a second half shutout. He turned aside 15 shots fired his way while Dattani allowed two goals on 12 shots. The Oil Barons outshot the Crusaders 30-27, which was important according to Keca, “we wanted to limit the amount of scoring chances and shots and we did that today as well.”

The Wozney, Hodgson, Edwards line was excellent again tonight and it’s a unit that the Head Coach hopes he will be able to count on for the entire season. “They’ve probably been our most consistent line. Each player is different and each one brings different strengths to the table.”

Keca says that in his nine years involved with the Oil Barons the club has never had a winning pre-season record, but that he was surprised at how his young club has carried itself so far, “I thought our guys would get overwhelmed at some points but they haven’t, they’ve shown a lot of resiliency and this is definitely a team we can build on.”

He’ll make a few more cuts tonight ahead of a full week of practice before they host the Spruce Grove Saints in the home opener on Friday night.

Audio: Keca Post Game Sept. 5

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