Round Two Recap – Viterra AJHL North Division

Games three and four took place this past Monday and Tuesday night with the Bonnyville Pontiacs travelling to the Grant Fuhr to take on the Spruce Grove Saints, and the Fort McMurray Oil Baron hosted the Sherwood Park Crusaders at the Casman Centre.

Heading into the games, the Saints had a 2-0 series lead over the Pontiacs after beating them twice at the RJ Lalonde Arena over the weekend. In game one, Spruce Grove walked away with a 5-2 victory. However, game two was won in a much more thrilling fashion after coming from 3-0 down to defeat the Pontiacs 4-3 in double overtime thanks to a Jordan Biro game-winner.

In the other series, Sherwood Park dominated game one beating Fort McMurray 4-0 on home ice. Despite that heavy loss the night before, the Oil Barons came out hard for game two and stole a game on the road eventually beating the Crusaders 4-2.

After what happened in an opening couple of games, the rest of these two series were bound to be exciting ones no matter what the outcome.

Bonnyville Pontiacs (2) vs Spruce Grove Saints (3)

  • Game One: Spruce Grove Saints 5 – 2 Bonnyville Pontiacs
  • Game Two: Spruce Grove Saints 4 – 3 Bonnyville Pontiacs (OT)
  • Game Three: Bonnyville Pontiacs 1 – 4 Spruce Grove Saints
  • Game Four: Bonnyville Pontiacs 0 – 1 Spruce Grove Saints

The Bonnyville Pontiacs have been officially eliminated from the post season.

After dropping games one and two at home to the Spruce Grove Saints, the Pontiacs had an faced an uphill battle to drag themselves back into the series. While on the road at the Grant Fuhr Arena, Bonnyville couldn’t find their offensive touch and was only able to produce 32 shots on Matthew Davis, with only one getting by him across the two games.

At the other end of the ice, the Pontiacs couldn’t find any answers on the road to stop the Spruce Grove Saints waves of attack. Colby Muise and Easton Hesse were kept extremely busy on both nights after Bonnyville surrendered 96 shots on goal.

In game 3, Parker Saretsky got the home crowd going just over three minutes into the contest, with his ninth career post season goal. The Saints held onto a 1-0 lead for the remainder of the first period and slightly into the second until Cam Mitchell capitalized on an opportunity making it 2-0 Saints, two minutes into the second period.  Mitchell’s goal was quickly followed up with goals from Seth Fyten and Logan Gaine giving the Saints a 4-0 lead before they’d even reached the halfway point of the game.

Lucas Thorne did pull one back for the Pontiacs shorthanded, but the game was all over by that point; even with the third period still to play.    Muise was pulled after making 29 saves on 33 shots with Hesse coming in relief against the team he affiliated for last season. Hesse stopped all 14 shots that he faced through just under 30 minutes of play.

The next night, game 4, with the Pontiacs season on the line, Head Coach Rick Swan opted to go back to his veteran netminder, Colby Muise, to go out and to keep this series alive.

However, the Saints had other plans and, with 11 minutes gone in the first period, Nick Leyer tipped a Mackenzie Harden shot by Muise to make it 1-0 Saints.

Much like game 3, the Pontiacs were unable to find a response to the Saints in all aspects of the game. As a result of that, Bonnyville’s historic season came to an end much more prematurely than they had envisioned. While the Spruce Grove Saints now move onto the North Division finals for the 8th time in 10 years to face either the Sherwood Park Crusaders or Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

Sherwood Park Crusaders (1) vs Fort McMurray Oil Barons (4)

  • Game One: Fort McMurray Oil Barons 0 – 4 Sherwood Park Crusaders
  • Game Two: Fort McMurray Oil Barons 4 – 2 Sherwood Park Crusaders
  • Game Three: Fort McMurray Oil Barons 3 – 4 Sherwood Park Crusaders (OT)
  • Game Four: Fort McMurray Oil Barons 1 – 2 Sherwood Park Crusaders

The Sherwood Park Crusaders and Fort McMurray Oil Barons made their way north to the Casman Centre for game three and game four after splitting the opening two games at the Sherwood Park Arena.

On Monday, game three, the Crusaders got themselves off to a great start finding themselves up 2-0 heading into the final intermission. Zach Kaiser got the scoring started in his return to the lineup after missing games one and two. Then Will Zapernick’s one-timer on the powerplay doubled the Crusaders lead. Defensively, Sherwood Park shut the Oil Barons offence down in the second period allowing only two shots with the first not coming until late in the frame.

However, the third period was a much different outcome. Fort McMurray started on the powerplay with Zapernick in the box for boarding. It took the Oil Barons 19 seconds into the final period to get on the scoreboard which came from their captain Taner Miller. Soon after, a snapshot from the high slot by Peter Tomaras beat Matt Berlin and tied the game up at 2-2.

Sherwood Park responded well to Fort McMurray’s quick offensive outburst. Nick Bowman and Zach Kaiser led a shorthanded two-on-one breakaway chance which was finished off by Crusaders captain Tyler Jette to make it 3-2. Then, three minutes later, Konrad Belcourt tied the game up once again which would send the game to overtime.

The overtime period didn’t last long after Carter Savoie tipped in a Michael Benning shot to give the Crusaders a 4-3 win and a 2-1 series lead.

Yesterday, the two collided again for game four of what has been a tightly contested series. It was a much more defensive game this time unlike what game three was, with only three goals being scored.  Similar to game three, Sherwood Park had themselves a 2-0 lead heading into the second intermission. Jack Hamly got the scoring started against his former team in the first period which was then followed by a goal late in the second from Garrett Clegg.

The Oil Barons did score one from Tye Ettinger, but it wasn’t enough as the Crusaders went onto defeat the Oil Barons 2-1 and now only need one more win to move onto the North Division final.

– – –

March 17th, 2019

We are full steam ahead in Round Two of the AJHL Playoffs!

The Bonnyville Pontiacs have battled it out with the Spruce Grove Saints for two games at the RJ Lalonde Arena. While in the other matchup, the Sherwood Park Crusaders returned to the ice following their bye week to take on the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.

The two series have been highly competitive and have brought plenty of excitement to the two AJHL arenas as the final four teams in the North Division look to be the last two standing in the divisional finals.

Bonnyville Pontiacs (2) vs Spruce Grove Saints (3)

  • Game One: Spruce Grove Saints 5 – 2 Bonnyville Pontiacs
  • Game Two: Spruce Grove Saints 4 – 3 Bonnyville Pontiacs (OT)

A dominating second period from the Spruce Grove Saints all be sealed a victory in Game One of their second round series versus the Bonnyville Pontiacs.

The Pontiacs did get their home fans on their feet first, however, when Lucas Thorne scored with two minutes to go in the first period. Despite that, in the final quarter of the second period, the travelling Saints got goals from Parker Saretsky (PP), Stanley Cooley, and Seth Fyten putting the game out of reach of the stunned Pontiacs. Those goals were almost inevitable after Spruce Grove peppered Colby Muise with 21 shots in the second frame.

In the third period, Cam Mitchell (PP) scored a fourth for the Saints only 42 seconds after the restart in his first game back from injury. Bonnyville got on the board from Jeremy Gervais, however, shortly after, Jordan Biro closed out the game to make it 5-2 Saints.

In Game Two, the Bonnyville Pontiacs came out blazing in front of the enthusiastic home crowd at the RJ Lalonde Arena.

Three first period goals gave the Pontiacs the perfect start as they looked to tie the series up at one apiece. Bobby Young got the scoring started with his first of the post season which was quickly followed up with another pair of goals courtesy of  Ethan Leyer (PP) and Cayden Kraus (PP).  Logan Gaine (PP) pulled one back for the Saints before the buzzer sounded to end the first period.

Now, in the second, Spruce Grove turned it up a notch and found a way to get the job done. First, their trade deadline acquisition, McKenzie Harden (PP), jammed the puck by Muise to pull the Saints within one seven minutes into the frame. Then less than a minute later the Saints tied the game up at 3-3 with a goal from Dylan Bourlai.

It was a tight final 20 with neither team wanting to make a mistake costing themselves the victory. No goals were scored in the third period nor the first period of overtime which meant fans were in for a long night. Game Two was finally won by Jordan Biro in double overtime when his wraparound attempt squeezed by Muise completing the Saints comeback and giving them a 2-0 series lead heading back home.

  • Game Three: Bonnyville @ Spruce Grove – 7:00 p.m. puck drop
  • Game Four: Bonnyville @ Spruce Grove – 7:00 p.m. puck drop

Sherwood Park Crusaders (1) vs Fort McMurray Oil Barons (4)

  • Game One: Fort McMurray Oil Barons 0 – 4 Sherwood Park Crusaders
  • Game Two: Fort McMurray Oil Barons 4 – 2 Sherwood Park Crusaders

The season series between these two was tight, and through two games of this playoff matchup, it has been no different as we head to Casman Centre on Monday with the series tied at 1-1.

In Game One, the Sherwood Park Crusaders took full advantage of home ice putting on a fantastic performance in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Sherwood Park Arena.

Garrett Clegg got the scoring going just over two minutes into the first period as the Crusaders looked to have not missed a beat after having the bye week. The Crusaders had a couple of more grade-A chances but were denied by Chris Curr in the Fort McMurray goal.

In the final forty minutes, Arjun Atwal (PP) was the next on the board for the Sherwood Park which was then followed by goals from Tanner Fincaryk and Cameron Aucoin who were making their AJHL playoff debuts.

Matt Berlin was rock solid for the Crusaders stopping all 34 shots he faced for his first career post season shutout.

Moving over to Saturday and Game Two, the mood was much different with the Oil Barons coming out and pressing hard against the Crusaders while in search of that early goal.

They would eventually get that goal from Ryan Conroy midway through the first period. The Crusaders gave it right back to them, however, and did tie the game up when Jack Hamly, former Oil Baron, poked in the loose puck with six minutes to play in the period.

The Oil Barons were the only team to get on the board in the second which came from Chad MacLean.

Sherwood Park would cancel that goal out just 25 seconds into the final frame, but it proved not to be enough as Jarred White would score two goals in the final frame to send his team home with a 4-2 victory.

  • Game Three: Sherwood Park @ Fort McMurray – 7:30 p.m. puck drop
  • Game Four: Sherwood Park @ Fort McMurray – 7:30 p.m. puck drop

Story by Liam Horrobin