Storm Come Back Comes Up Short

If this was the Calgary Stampede the calf roper would have had his steer lassoed and ready to toss him to the ground only to have the animal shake loose and leave the cowboy standing with a limp rope.

Sunday afternoon the Grande Prairie Storm, twice, had the Bonnyville Pontiacs roped and ready to tie them only to see the visitors shake loose en route to a 6-3 win in Revolution Place Arena.

Down 3-0 heading into the third period the Storm battled back to make it 3-2 on powerplay goals from Zac McNeill (3:12) and Nathan Bizeau (10:53) and had the visitors on the run, coming close to tying the game at 3-3 just seconds after narrowing it to one, only to see Bonnyville wiggle off the hook a couple of times.

Less than two minutes after Bizeau's tally the Pontiacs got the margin back to two on a goal from Derek Brown (12:16) silencing a crowd that had been energized by the comeback.

When Michael Clarke, on the Storm's third powerplay tally of the period, scored to make it 4-3 the building roared to life again.

But, again, another dagger from the Pontiacs.

This time it was P.J. Marrocco – just 23 seconds after Clarke's 40 foot wrist shot had found the back of the net – who silenced the faithful making it 5-3 allowing the Pontiacs the shake off the rope and collect their 15th win of the season and move 15 points ahead of the sixth place Storm in the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division.

“Playing 25 minutes against a veteran team that is higher in the standings just doesn't cut it at this level,” said Storm head coach/general manager Kevin Higo. “Game management and game awareness is an issue for us right now.

“We have players taking short cuts or making bad decisions at the wrong time and it costs us.”

Grande Prairie is six points up on the seventh place Drayton Valley Thunder and 11 ahead of the eighth place Lloydminster Bobcats.

Sunday's game marked the debut of recently acquired netminder Xavier Burghardt.

He may have been the best Storm player on the ice facing 36 shots keeping the game close enough to give his team a chance to make their comeback bid in the final frame. The Storm fired 26 at Sandro Silvestre at the other end.

Brandon Whistle, on the powerplay, Isaac Saniga and Brown had scored in the second to give the Pontiacs the lead while Whistle ended the scoring with an empty-netter with 20 seconds to go in the game.

The Storm were three for 11 on the powerplay and only allowed one goal on 11 Bonnyville extra man chances, including a lengthy five-on-three in the second.

Grande Prairie did a great job killing the five-on-three, but shortly after it expired the Pontiacs went up 3-0.

“The goals against we gave up were goals that were preventable and timing of them and the way we got scored on were a direct result of the Storm – not the Pontiacs,” said Higo. “When we do a great job of killing off a five-on-three and then 10 seconds later they score it's tough.

“When we fight back from a three-goal deficit and the game is 3-2 we can't get scored on the next shift. Those are point and times in the game we have to be better at.”

The Storm (6-10-4) now head on the road for games against the Spruce Grove Saints, Camrose Kodiaks and Whitecourt Wolverines before returning home to host the Brooks Bandits (Nov. 18) and Okotoks Oilers (Nov. 19).