Six times the Grande Prairie Storm had the powerplay Saturday night…and six times they came away empty handed. That was the difference in the game, as the Storm fell 4-3 to the Lloydminster Bobcats at the Canada Games Arena.
It was the fourth game in a row the powerplay has been blanked. In each of the last three games, which have all been losses, even one goal with the man advantage could have at least sent the contest into overtime.
Coach Matt Hughes admitted after the game that the frustration level on the PP is being felt by the entire team.
“We've had our chances, but can't seem to finish off our opportunities. It also doesn't help that so many of our veterans, who see plenty of powerplay time, are getting injured lately.”
In fact, the Storm started Saturday's game without leading scorer Jordan McTaggart for a second straight game, while the club's top two defenceman, Sasha Laroque and Drew Nikirk, also sat out with injuries. Then, before the end of the first period, veteran forward Dylan Thudium also went down with an “upper body injury” and was lost for the night.
Just like Friday night, the Storm found themselves facing an uphill battle all evening long. The Bobcats grabbed a 3-1 lead after the first period and made it 4-1 just 35 seconds into the second. Rookie netminder Joakim Jutras allowed all four goals on 15 shots, before being replaced by Nick Kulmanovsky. The veteran keeper stopped the remaining 16 shots he faced on the night, but by then the damage was done.
Tyson McCallum, Sam Lawson and Vincent Guimond had the Grande Prairie goals. Guimond's marker came with just over five minutes left in the third, but the Storm never mounted a serious challenge in the final few minutes.
With the loss, the Storm fall to 3-4 on the season. The Bobcats, meantime, improve to 3-3.
Storm will now head down to the AJHL Showcase weekend in Spruce Grove to face the Drumheller Dragons on Friday and Brooks Bandits on Saturday. Their next home game is Thursday, October 3rd, when the Bonnyville Pontiacs visit the Canada Games Arena.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com.