It's taken almost half a season, but the Grande Prairie Storm are starting to look like a team poised to make a move up the standings, rather than one just hanging on to a playoff spot.
Storm scoring a pair of early goals Friday night in front of 1371 fans at the Canada Games Arena, enroute to a convincing 5-2 win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs. Tyson McCallum getting the home side on the board before the game was even two minutes old, while Dylan Thudium would double the lead four minutes later.
Pontiacs would twice cut the deficit to one goal, but could never solve Nick Kulmanovsky for the equalizer. Kaleb Denham had the eventual game winner midway through the second, as Grande Prairie led 3-2 after two.
Landon Gross would jam one in from the side of the net early in the third to give the Storm some breathing room, while Blake Bosch would hit the empty net in the final minute to salt things away.
Coach Matt Hughes says it wasn't a perfect game, but he was still happy with the effort from his troops.
“Earlier in the year, we were finding ways to lose. Now, we're playing better hockey and the breaks seem to be falling our way.”
In their past seven games, the Storm are now 5-1-1, moving them from seventh in the AJHL North Division to a current tie for fourth with the Lloydminster Bobcats. The Pontiacs, meantime, have now slipped seven points behind the Storm, but Hughes says they can't let down their guard for the Saturday rematch.
“We know they'll come out stronger, so we'll have to match. We won't be satisfied in coming out of the weekend with a split.”
In a scary incident, Pontiacs forward Ryan Black had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and sent to hospital in an abulance, after being hit into the end boards by Dalton Olsen. There were no early reports as to the extent of his injuries.
Game two in the weekend set is set for Saturday at 7:30 pm.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com