Taylor Cote finally got to take a bow. The Storm captain scoring with just 19.2 second left in the third period to help Grande Prairie eke out a 3-2 win over the visiting Spruce Grove Saints on Tuesday night.
Cote's goal capped a great night for him and linesmates Jordan McTaggart and Dylan Thudium, who each scored once and accounted for seven points in the contest. For McTaggart, it was his first goal of the season, while Thudium's was his second.
Cote's goal and two helpers made him an easy choice as the night's first star and allowed him to skate out to a huge ovation from the 1650 fans in attendance. It was the third time he's been named a star this season at the Canada Games Arena, but the first time he's been able to acknowledge the fans afterwards. Of his two prior selections, once he was already kicked out of the game, while the other occasion came after he had scored an overtime winner and there wasn't time for the three-star selectors to radio down the picks to ice level.
Cote's winner came just 18 seconds after the Saints had tied the game with the goalie pulled for an extra attacker. Off a face-off, Cameron Hughes snuck behind the Storm defence and converted a perfect feed from Corey Chorneyko, scoring the goal that momentarily seemed to be sending the game into overtime. Affiliate player Paul Lovsin, a Peace River minor hockey product, had scored the Saints other goal ten minutes earlier, cutting into what had been a 2-0 Grande Prairie lead.
Storm coach Blaine Bablitz was very happy to grab the two points in the standings. However, he felt his club might not have brought their best game to the rink this night.
“Our intensity got better as the game went on, but it certainly wasn't very good at the start. Spruce Grove was missing a few players, including their top star and I think our guys thought it was going to be easy. Credit to the Saints, though, as they played with a lot of energy.”
The race for top spot in the AJHL North is now extremely tight, with only two points separating the top four clubs. Storm are currently tied for third with Bonnyville—two points back of Whitecourt and one behind Spruce Grove. Coach Bablitz says that makes this weekend's two games in Bonnyville all that more important.
“We'll get a couple good practices in the next couple days before heading there. The Pontiacs play especially well in that small rink of theirs, so we have to be ready right from the start of the game to battle all night long.”
Storm return home on Friday, November 16th to play the Brooks Bandits. The Bandits are the number one rated Junior A club in Canada right now and currently sport a perfect record of 18-0.
– Story submitted by Don Whiteford of www.peacecountrysports.com