When you find something that works, stay with it. The Grande Prairie Storm used the exact script Saturday night to beat the Calgary Mustangs which they had written a night earlier to down the Okotoks Oilers. In each case, they jumped out to a 4-0 lead by the middle of the second period, allowed their opponents back into the game with a couple goals, before finally adding on a late marker of their own to win 5-2.
In fact, if you go back to the first game of the road trip, versus the Calgary Canucks, the Storm also won by an identical 5-2 score. It all added up to a successful stretch which saw the club put through a grinding four games in five nights, coming away with a 3-1 record. Overall, Grande Prairie is now 11-2 versus South Division clubs this season.
Marc-Etienne Drapeau, Chase Thudium and Gus Correale had the Storm up 3-0 after the first period. When Ryan Matthews tallied on the powerplay in the opening minute of the second period—Matthews fourth goal in two nights—it looked like it may be an easy night for the visitors. To the Mustangs credit, though, they chipped away at the lead with one goal in the second and then a short-handed marker in the third to pull within two. Drapeau would score his second of the night, midway through the third, to end any chance of a comeback by the Calgary squad.
Defenceman Sasha Laroque also had a big hand in the offence, as he assisted on three of the five goals. Meantime, Curtis Skip made his second start in as many nights and recorded his second victory during that stretch as well. Skip was named the Storm player of the game, blocking 25 of the 27 shots he faced.
The win allowed the Storm to edge one point closer to first place Spruce Grove in the AJHL North, as the Saints fell 2-1 in overtime to Fort McMurray. Grande Prairie is four points back but has two games in hand on the Saints, who they'll face next. Those games won't be until January 4th and 5th at the Canada Games Arena, though, as the Storm are now off for a twelve day stretch over the holidays.
Until then, have yourselves a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com