It's the most exciting play in hockey…but for the 1524 fans at the Canada Games Arena on Saturday night, it wasn't the result they wanted to see.
Grande Prairie Storm forward Jade McMullen was stoned on a penalty shot by Bonnyville Goalie Stephen Klein with just five seconds left in the game, as the Pontiacs held on to edge the Storm 3-2. The penalty shot was awarded when a Pontiacs player intentionally smoothered the piuck in open ice for a delay of game call.
Storm coach Matt Hughes says it was his call to have McMullen take the shot.
“Jade's been playing well and has had the hot hand as of late. It was a gut choice on my part. He actually put a good move on and I thought he had scored, but their goalie made a nice glove save.”
Storm came out with a jump in their step to start the game, out shooting the Pontiacs 10-1 early on. Blake Bosch gave the home side the lead just before the midway mark of the opening period.
After that, however, Bonnyville really took over for the next forty minutes, scoring three unanswered goals. They were particularly strong in the second, outshooting the Storm 16-9 and scoring the go-ahead goal. Coach Hughes says if not for stellar play from goalied Nick Kulmanovsky, the score could have gotten out of reach.
“Nick held us in during that second period, when they were all over us. They caught us running around a lot in our own end throughout the entire frame.”
Tyson McCallum did cut into the Pontiacs 3-1 lead with a goal with five and a half minutes remaining in the hockey game. However, despite some frenzied activity in the dying minutes, the Storm couldn't force overtime.
As might be expected from the AJHL's two worst powerplay squads, neither team managed to score with the manpower advantage. Pontiacs were 0-for-5 while the Storm were blanked on their two chances.
Grande Prairie now drops back to the 500 mark at 14-14-2 and remains tied for fourth place in the North Division with Lloydminster. Storm are off now until next weekend, when they go on the road to face the number one ranked Oil Barons in Fort McMurray.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com.