By LOGAN CLOW
There wasn’t much of a holiday break for Matt Keillor.
While Grande Prairie Storm players went their separate ways after Dec. 18 to spend time with their families, Keillor, the team’s head coach and GM, spent time in his office at Revolution Place prepping and evaluating for the next few weeks.
“Most of my time here over the break is just going to be preparing schedules and just getting everything set up… just all the off-ice and practice times going into the new year. I like to be pretty detailed,” he said.
Players report back to the team on Dec. 28 when they hit the ice in preparation for a rare Dec. 30 home game against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
Keillor said in addition to planning out the next few weeks, the holiday break was also an opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate the team.
Early January marks the Canadian Junior A Hockey League’s trade deadline and Keillor said he’s looking to make an upgrade or two if the right proposal comes along.
“I think you’re going to see a little bit of movement here moving into the New Year and into the deadline, but I don’t think anything major. I think it’s only been five games (behind the bench) but I’ve liked the output and the effort, especially out of the kids that have been here for a few years and have developed here,” said Keillor.
“But I feel like we do need a few pieces and again, our goal is to make the playoffs and that’s the number one priority, but within that we also want to build for the future and we feel that we have some kids in the GPAC system that we developed and we feel that there’s going to be a real good opportunity here for them as well.”
Keillor said in terms of team upgrades, he said the team could add another one or two forwards who can put the puck in the net.
“I’ve been really happy with our defence and the output they’ve had in the five games I’ve been here, and then also (goaltender Arik) Weersink has played unbelievably well for us in the last four games, so I don’t expect much changes (in net),” he said.
Another piece of the planning process, noted Keillor, is for the team’s spring camp. He said though it’s still a few months away, it’s important to start recruiting players to ensure it’s a competitive camp. He said the camp has lacked competitiveness in recent years.
Storm host Oil Barons Friday
After an 11-day break in their schedule, the Storm are back in action on Friday.
The Storm, who are coming off a 3-2 and 6-2 road win over the Drayton Valley Thunder on Dec. 17-18, host the Fort McMurray Oil Barons at 7:30 p.m. at Revolution Place.
It marks the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. The MOB have won the previous three meetings and have outscored the Storm a combined 15-2 in their season series.
The Storm are 10-24-5 and fifth in the AJHL’s North Division, The MOB (24-10-1) have struggled this month with only two wins in seven games. They enter Friday’s game coming off a 4-1 and 6-0 road loss on Dec. 17-18 against the Brooks Bandits and Calgary Canucks.
Forward Michael Clarke continues to lead the Storm in scoring with 19 goals and 20 assists.
The MOB have the league’s fourth ranked powerplay and sixth ranked penalty kill.
GP product Brett Edwards has seven goals and seven assists with the MOB this season.
After Friday, the Storm travel to play the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Jan. 4 and then return to Revolution Place on Jan. 6-7 to host the Spruce Grove Saints.
It’s a quick turnaround for the MOB, who travel to play the Spruce Grove Saints on Dec. 31 at 2 p.m.