Saints Slip By Storm

Getting off to a good start is always important . . . especially when you've been off the ice for an extended Christmas holiday break.

That's exactly what the Grande Prairie Storm did on Friday night in Revolution Place Arena scoring goals on their first two shots and taking a 2-0 lead before the game was 6 1/2 minutes old.

 But, when you're playing the best team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division sometimes a two-goal lead isn't enough.

It wasn't Friday as the visiting Spruce Grove Saints rebounded to nip the Storm 5-4 and move into sole possession of first place in the North with the victory.

It was just the third Storm home-ice loss in the last 10 games and just the fifth defeat in Revolution this year.

The Sherwood Park Crusaders defeated the Fort McMurray 5-4 Friday and have now moved to within a point of the fourth place Storm.

Grande Prairie gets a chance to get back at the Saints, celebrating their 50th anniversary and sporting new sweaters with their old logo, when the two tangle again Saturday at 7:30 p.m. as the teams finish up the 2017 portion of their schedule.

Connor Blake, on a shorthanded effort, made it 1-0 Storm 4:57 into the game and then Zach Okabe, with a nifty deke on a breakaway, upped the lead to 2-0 at 6:29.

The Saints tied it up at 2-2 on goals by Tyson Gruninger and Austin Parmiter at 6:54 and 9:03 respectively.

A goal by Dallas Comeau off the faceoff at 13:02 gave the Storm a 3-2 lead and chased Saints' starting netminder Hayden Missler

Josh Harris found himself all alone in front of the Storm net and made no mistake beating Storm rookie goaltender Ethan Slobodzian with 1:23 to go in the first to tie it at threes.

Chris Van Os-Shaw, who is battling GP's Justin Bernier for the AJHL scoring lead, scored twice in the second, once on the powerplay, to give the visitors a 5-3 lead going into the third.

Conner Blake scored on the powerplay at 14:12 of the third to narrow it to 5-4 making for a frantic finish that was made even more interesting by the fact the Saints were given a four-minute high sticking penalty with 3:04 remaining.

Slobodzian was pulled with 1:18 to go to make it six-on-four, but the Storm couldn't beat Missler's replacement Easton Hesse and Spruce Grove skated off with their 26th win of the season.

Bernier, who was held pointless for just the eighth time in 35 games, is still the AJHL scoring leader with 52 points while Van Os-Shaw is second with 50.

After Saturday's game the Storm open 2018 with five road games, not returning to Revolution Place Arena until January 19th.