A solid 60-minute effort. That's what 1424 fans at the Canada Games Arena saw from their Grande Prairie Storm on Saturday night, with the result being a convincing 3-0 win over the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Unlike Friday, when the Storm were tentative in the opening twenty minutes and had to battle back for a 4-3 win, the home side came out hitting in this one. For 38 minutes, it remained a scoreless battle, before the Storm finally broke through with a pair of goals before the second intermission.
Toby Shattler was rewarded for his hard work by getting the ice breaker—a wrist shot to the top corner that somehow eluded the Crusader goalie's catching glove. While the fans were still celebrating that goal, Sasha Larocque would finish off a nice deke around a defenceman to bury another shot, less than a minute later.
Coach Matt Hughes was pleased with the way Shattler and his line played, in both ends of the ice.
“When Toby has his legs going, he's a force out there. No one deserved that opening goal more than he did and nobody is ever happier to score than he is.”
Newly acquired defenceman Dalton Olsen assisted on Larocque's goal and would later get one of his own. Olsen sifted a screen shot through traffic and into the back of the net early in the third period to remove any doubt as to which team would come away with the two points.
After that, it was up to Nick Kulmanovsky to slam the door shut on the Crusaders the rest of the way, making 30 saves to pick up his second shut out of the season…and making his coach a happy man.
“Nick is back to being Nick. He's been very good the past four games—seeing the puck well and making saves through traffic look easy.”
Neither team had any success on the powerplay this night. Storm were 0-for-7, including failing to convert on a lengthy 5-on-3. Crusaders also rarely threatened with the extra man, failing to convert on their four chances.
By sweeping the Cru, Grande Prairie moves ahead of them in the standings. At 23 points, the Storm are tied with Bonnyville for fifth, while Sherwood Park is two points back.
Storm now head out on a road trip which sees them play four games in five nights. It begins this Tuesday night in Olds.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com.