When coaches need someone to step up when it's crunch time they usually rely on their better players to lead the way.
That was the case on Tuesday in Drayton Valley against the Thunder.
The Storm, battling to keep fourth place in the North Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, were into overtime against a team 20 points behind them.
They needed someone to step up.
Enter 20-year-old Edouard Michaud, whose resume includes major junior in the Quebec league.
Michaud, second on the team and third in league scoring, jumped in with both feet.
He scored the OT winner in a 6-5 Storm victory completing his first AJHL hat trick. It was his 17th multi-point game of the season and extended a streak of at least one point per game to eight.
While the scoring praise went to the veteran, Storm head coach/assistant general manager Matt Keillor was less impressed with the majority of his older players, but pretty happy about some young ones.
“Again, it's another testament to our scouting staff this season when we can put five affiliate players into the lineup and come away with two points,” said Keillor, who sat out the second of a three-game suspension on Tuesday while assistant coach Dennis Rix ran the bench.
Having that many young ones in the lineup can be a good reminder to the older players, says Keillor. Three of the call-ups were just 16.
“They play every shift as hard as they can trying to make an impression for next season. I think it was an eye-opener for some of the veterans – especially the veterans who played alongside them.
“If the younger players are doing their job the older guys have no excuses – usually it's supposed to be the otheer way around. Sometimes guys forget about the passion they played with that got them to this level in the first place.”
Keillor said there was a little “cheating” going on after the team took a 2-0 lead.
“When we had a quick 2-0 lead we started to cheat away from the puck and it cost us. Our guys have to recognize that when you have a stranglehold on a game like that the other team usually starts cheating. If you play simple and with structure they will make a mistake and that's when you 'stick the dagger in', so to speak.”
“Winning is just as sweet if not sweeter when it's ugly.”
The win moves the Storm three points up on the fifth place Sherwood Park Crusaders. The Cru were idle on Tuesday, but have two games in hand on the Storm, who have played 45 games and now have 47 points.
Michaud's OT game-winner came just 1:23 into the three-on-three extra frame.
He had opened the game's scoring on the powerplay 11:11 into the first period to give the Storm a 1-0 lead and then put GP up 4-3 with his second at 9:08 of the second.
Connor Blake also had himself a three-point night with a goal and two helpers while Zach Okabe pitched in with a goal and an assist.
Marc-Antoine Benoit had two and John Elliott, Trevor Ayre and Jaren Patenaude singles for the Thunder.
Charles-Olivier Levesque was in the Storm net facing 27 shots while Thunder netminder Shawn Parkinson looked at 26.
Michaud now has 31 goals and 25 assists for 56 points – six points back of teammate Justin Bernier, who is six behind league leader Chris Van Os-Shaw of the Spruce Grove Saints.
The Storm now head home for a pair. Friday the Okotoks Oilers are in GP and Saturday the Storm host the Olds Grizzlys.