The year 2017 is in the rear-view mirror. What’s ahead is what matters.
That is no doubt the attitude the Grande Prairie Storm took heading into their first game of the 2018 portion of the Alberta Junior Hockey League schedule.
A 6-4 win over the Drayton Valley Thunder Thursday certainly helped erase some memories of ’17, including a season-ending eight game loss stretch on the road.
“Obviously a win on the road is great for us,” said Matt Keillor, head coach/assistant general manager. “As a team we need to bring the same energy we have and home and apply it on the road.”
Considering the team has 12 home wins compared to six on the road getting that “homey” feeling away from Revolution Place Arena is something Keillor no doubt hopes continues.
The goes from taking on the last place team in the North Division to the first – the Spruce Grove Saints tonight – so Keillor is hoping the Revolution continues.
“We have already shifted our focus to Friday night,” he said. “If you want to go deep in the playoffs at some point you’re going to have to go through Spruce Grove. Might as well start on Friday!”
On Thursday the team started quick scoring three goals in the first half of the first period including just 32 seconds in (Connor Blake); a powerplay tally at 4:19 (Noah Walters) to make it 2-0 and then a Drayton backbreaker – the 3-0 goal shorthanded by Dallas Comeau at 9”57.
The Thunder got back into it with a PP goal from Branden Voss at 10:26 and then moved to within a goal at 11:29 when Steve Senese scored.
Walters silenced the crowed at 12:02 giving the Storm a 4-2 lead.
Just 33 seconds into the third Trevor Ayre scored to make it 4-3, but that didn’t discourage the Storm, who got goals from Comeau (2:54) and Edouard Michaud, on the PP at 5:12 to take control again at 6-3.
Joren Patenaude rounded out the game scoring at 4:16 to hand the Thunder their 29th loss of the season and 13th at home.
“Our line of Blake, Walters and (Zach) Okabe was dynamic,” said Keillor. “They played with speed and tenacity for 60 minutes.
“Comeau had an extra gear as well and was creating opportunities on the top line all night.”
The Storm allowed just one goal in six powerplay chances while scoring on two of three.
“Our PK did an excellent job tonight boxing out and blocking shots and it fed our momentum.”
Midget call-ups Kaden Tenkoppel and Tristan Jones played Thursday.
“(Mark) Bomersback (GM) and our scouting staff’s hard work is paying off. Tenkoppel and Jones stepped into the lineup and played smart and chipped in offensively.”
Veteran Charles-Olivier Levesque, after missing a few games, was back in the lineup and faced 30 shots while the Storm fired 41 at the combination of Daniel Allin and Rory Dumele at the other end.
The win moves the fourth place Storm three up on the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
After the Spruce Grove stop Friday the Storm head to Sherwood Park on Saturday and then are back on the road next weekend with games in Fort McMurray (Jan. 12) and Spruce Grove (Jan. 13) before returning home to take on the Calgary Mustangs Jan. 19 in Revolution.