After a shut out loss to one of the bottom teams in the AJHL a couple nights earlier, the Grande Prairie Storm needed someone to take charge Friday night in Okotoks. That “someone” turned out to be Ryan Matthews.
Matthews had a hat trick on the evening, as the Storm blasted past the hometown Oilers 5-2 to improve their record on their South Division road trip to 2-1. They'll look to finish 3-for-4 on Saturday in Calgary, when they take on the Mustangs in the Storm's last action until the New Year.
A strong start was the difference in the contest, as Grande Prairie led 2-0 after one period and increased that lead to 4-0 by the 16:15 mark of the second period. Matthews had two of those goals, while Dylan Thudium and Ryan Baskerville had the others. After the Oilers closed to with a pair of goals, Matthews salted it away with his third goal of the game, into an empty net, with just four seconds remaining.
Special teams also played a major role in the Storm victory. Grande Prairie was 2-for-4 with the man advantage, while holding the Oilers to just one powerplay marker on seven advantages. Meantime, Curtis Skip made his first start of this road trip and made 31 saves to pick up the “W”.
The win vaults the Storm past Bonnyville and back into second in the AJHL North with 48 points, as the Pontiacs fell 3-1 Friday in Drayton Valley. Grande Prairie is also just five points behind division-leading Spruce Grove, with two games in hand on the Saints.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com