If Ethan Slobodzian is going to fulfil his dream of earning an NCAA Division I scholarship he is going to need more help than his teammates gave him on Sunday.
Slobodzian made his first-ever Junior A start on Sunday in an 8-1 win over the Drayton Valley Thunder in Revolution Arena and his teammates didn't let him do much. He had to face just 11 shots.
Standing in your crease while your teammates dominate at the other end doesn't get you noticed by NCAA scouts, but Slobodzian will no doubt take the win over the alternative. Besides, there will be plenty of games to impress including at the Alberta Junior Hockey League Showcase in Camrose next weekend.
What did impress again was the Storm offence, which has scored 20 goals in the last three games and leads the lead with 29 goals in six games.
With a disappointing 5-4 overtime loss to the Thunder on Saturday (all four of their losses this year have been by a goal) in the rear view mirror the Storm showed why the pre-season pundits had the club as a potential top four team this season.
“Last night was a tough one,” said Storm head coach/general manager Matt Keillor, whose team had a 4-2 lead going into the third Saturday. “If it could have gone wrong did. We had so many opportunities to put the game away . . . and the crossbar had our number.
“Fortunately we feel we have the group that won't let that happen two games in a row.”
They did that last week. After a disappointing last minute loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs they rebounded for an 8-1 defeat of the Lloydminster Bobcats the next day.
“We had a real good video meeting this morning and made sure we cleaned up our bad habits in all three zones. The guys worked hard today. The bench was positive and we knew before the puck dropped these guys were dialed in and poised to play.”
It has been an early long haul for the Storm since opening the regular season at home last weekend.
“We have played six games in nine days and even as a staff it feels like we haven't even had time to breath. We look forward to a day off tomorrow and then a solid week of preparation for Showcase in Camrose.”
On Sunday they poured 44 shots at the beleaguered duo of Rory Dumelie, the starter and loser, and Joseph McLeod.
They led 2-0 after the first and 4-2 heading into the third showing no mercy in the final 20 with four goals including two on the powerplay, which was three for six on the day. The Thunder failed all three times they had the man advantage.
Again, like an 8-1 win over the Lloydminster Bobcats on Wednesday, the Storm did scoring by committee on Sunday.
Three players had three points – Zach Okabe and Logan Mazerolle with a goal and two assists each and Justin Bernier with three assists. Edouard Michaud, with his fifth and sixth of the season, had a pair of goals. Three Storm players had a goal and an assist – Tyrell Boucher, Jonathan Harder and Parker Smyth – and 10 players had points.
The goal of the game was scored by Storm forward Carter Harris who, Bobby Orr-like, rushed up the ice, split the defence and scored his first of the year to give the Storm a 3-1 lead at 16:21 of the second.
For the record, 18-year-old Slobodzian's first-ever Junior A save came at 4:40 of the first period – a point blank shot from the slot he took in the chest. He let in the fifth shot he faced – off the stick of Josh Borynec at 3:17 of the second – and didn't have to handle his 10th puck until 7:32 of the third.
Rookie Okabe, who already has an NCAA scholarship in his pocket, leads the team with 11 points while Michaud and Bernier have 10 each.
The Storm play twice at Showcase – Friday at 4:30 p.m. against the defending AJHL champion Brooks Bandits and Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Calgary Mustangs. Next home action is Wednesday, Oct. 4 against the Thunder.