Too little. Too late.
By the time the Grande Prairie Storm decided to show any urgency in their playoff opener Tuesday night at the Canada Games Arena, they were down three goals and facing an uphill struggle. Although they made it close in the end, it wasn't enough in a 3-2 loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Crusaders scored a pair of goals midway through the first period to take a 2-0 lead to the dressing room. They made it 3-0 in the second before Ryan Matthews finally got one back for the home side. Jade McMullen then brought Grande Prairie to within one about seven minutes into the third period, but despite some good pressure down the stretch, the Storm couldn't find the equalizer.
Coach Blaine Bablitz liked that his troops fought hard to get back in the game. However, he was disappointed they put themselves in that position in the first place.
“The urgency just wasn't there in the first half of the game. We need to up our compete level and improve on a lot of things. They guys just need to settle in and play to our strengths.”
Niether team was able to get anything going with the powerplay. Storm were 0-for-3 on the night, while the Crusaders failed to click on five opportunities—including three in the first five minutes of the game.
Game two in this best of five opening round series goes Wednesday night, again at the Canada Games Arena. The series then switches to Sherwood Park for games three and four on Friday and Saturday. If a fifth game is necessary, it'll be back in Grande Prairie on Monday, March 11th.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com.