Blake Leads Storm Over Mustangs

Three games in three nights is not an ideal setup if you're looking for points in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

The Grande Prairie Storm just went through one of those starting Friday and ending Sunday in Calgary against the Mustangs and instead of wilting as the games piled up they got better.

It started with a close 4-2 loss to the Grizzlies in Olds on Friday and continued Saturday when they fell 3-2 in overtime in a game that saw the defending AJHL champion Brooks Bandits score a six-on-four goal with 15 seconds to go in the game and then win in the extra frame.

The southern trip ended Sunday with a 5-2 win over the Mustangs on the Olympic-sized ice surface at Father David Bauer Arena.

“Three games in three days is pretty tough at this level, but our guys stuck with the game plan and worked hard for 60 minutes,” said Storm head coach/assistant general manager Matt Keillor. “I thought our guys adjusted well to the large ice surface the Mustangs play on. Our team speed gave us an advantage.”

After falling behind 1-0 just 2:21 in on goal by Jackson Salt, the Storm roared back with three of their own in the first.

Carter Harris tied it at 1-1 at 3:56; Connor Blake, who now has points in 12 of the 14 Storm games on the season, gave the Storm a 2-1 advantage at 5:29; and then Logan Mazerolle, with his third of the season, got the game winner on the powerplay with 5:56 to go in the opening frame.

The teams exchanged goals in the second with Blake giving the Storm a three-goal edge at 17:29 before Joseph Karpyshyn replied for the Mustangs to make it 4-2 at 19:26.

Blake has 10 goals and eight assists and sits seventh overall in league scoring.

“Connor has really elevated his play and I think he's become one of the premier '98s in the league,” said Keillor. “His line with (Noah) Walters and (Dallas) Comeau is fast, skilled and relentless . . . and that's our identity.”

The only goal of the third came off the stick of GP's Jonothan Harder into an open net with just 49 seconds to go.

Rookie netminder Ethan Slobodzian got his third start of the season for the Storm in net and recorded his third win. He is fifth in league netminder stats with a 2.00 goals against average and fourth in save percentage at .933. He faced 38 shots Sunday while the Storm fired 37 at Grande Prairie native Ashton Abel at the other end.

“Slobodzian made some great saves and was sucking pucks in all game,” said Keillor of the 18-year-old from Mount Hope, ON.

The win moves the Storm to within a point of the third place Whitecourt Wolverines in the North Division.

The return home for four games including Friday at 7:30 p.m. when they host the Calgary Canucks.