With just eight points separating first place from fifth in the highly competitive AJHL North Division, every game the Grande Prairie Storm play now is a “big” game. When you are up against one of those other four clubs in the top five, it's all that much bigger still.
Coming into Friday night's contest in Bonnyville, the Storm were tied with both the Pontiacs and Drayton Valley Thunder for second place. Thanks to a 4-1 win over the Pontiacs and a 3-2 Thunder shoot out loss to the Calgary Canucks, the Storm now move back alone into sole possession of second.
Storm never trailed in this contest, as they rode a hot stick from forward Ryan Matthews and clutch goaltending from Curtis Skip to the victory. Matthews tallied twice on the night, while Skip blocked 29 of the 30 shots he faced.
Matthews both opened and closed the scoring for Grande Prairie on the night, while Tanner Labbe and Jordan McTaggart had the other goals. Pontiacs finally broke Skip's shut out bid with just under eight minutes left in the game.
Special teams also played a key role in the win. The Storm powerplay connected on two of four opportunities, while the penalty killers allowed just one extra strength goal in six Bonnyville manpower advantages.
Storm are now 1-1 on this three-road road trip, after falling 3-1 Wednesday night in Whitecourt. They conclude their trip Saturday night in Fort McMurray, before returning home next Friday against the Olds Grizzlies.
– Story submitted by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com