Game 1 of the North Division Final is in the books and it lived up to expectations. It wasn’t quite the result that the Saints wanted as they fall 4-2 to the Sherwood Park Crusaders and trail 1-0 in the series. Ryan Peckford and Dylan Bourlai would both return to the lineup in this game from injury and Matt Davis would get the Game 1 start.
With a week off between games, there wasn’t a whole lot of rust for either team to start this game off. It was a back and forth opening period with both teams controlling the play at certain points. A minute into the game, the Saints would waste no time in opening the scoring as Seth Fyten right in the slot would beat Matt Berlin on the first shot of the game for the all important first goal. The Saints did a great job of suffocating the slot, they made it tough for the Cru to get second and third looks out front because the rebounds would be cleared, or their sticks would get tied up. With 5 minutes left in the period the Cru would tie the game up on a turn over creating a 2 on 1. Nick Bowman would get it over to Jacob Franczak and he would beat Matt Davis off the rush. The Saints would bounce back and respond though, less than a minute left Logan Ganie on the forecheck would create a turnover and feed it out front for Ryan Peckford who would give the Saints back the lead in his return to the lineup. Shots in the period were 12-10 as the Saints lead 2-1 after 20 minutes.
This game could have been 4-1 for the Saints early in the period if not for Matt Berlin and his stellar play. Peckford has made an impact all night in his return to the lineup and he set up two sure goals early, but Matt Berlin robs them on both attempts, keeping it 2-1. The Saints gave the Cru three opportunities on the Powerplay in the second period and the Cru would make them pay on the second minor penalty. Carter Savoie would beat Matt Davis on a one timer at the top of the right circle as the Cru tie this one up on the man advantage. A bit of a messy game with puck bouncing everywhere and over sticks but it has been fast paced and entertaining. Savoie’s goal would be the only one in the period as the Saints would head into the 3rd tied 2-2, shots in the period were 8-8 and 20-18 overall after 40 minutes.
The Saints chances that they had in the second period that they couldn’t finish on would end up coming back to cost them in this one. Both Davis and Berlin were very good in this game and the game could have gone either way. With 5:30 left to play in the third period, Reid Irwin would find the go-ahead goal for Sherwood Park with a shot from the point that found its way through, giving the Cru their first lead of the night and ultimately the game winner. Nick Bowman would add an empty netter as they take Game 1 of the North Division Final by a final score of 4-2.
The Saints will look to split the first two games on the road tomorrow night in Game 2 back in Sherwood Park, puck drop at 7:00 PM.
By: Adam Kulak