The advantage of weekend home doubleheader is if you don't play so well in the first game, you can make the fans forget about a tough Game 1 with a good Game 2.
The Grande Prairie Storm find themselves in that situation after falling 7-1 to the Bonnyville Pontiacs in Revolution Place Saturday night . . . with Game 2 planned for Sunday at 2 p.m.
It was an unusual sight Saturday for the home fans who had seen their club take points in seven of eight previous home games including five wins, a loss, shootout loss and overtime loss while being competitive in every game.
The team had also just come off taking the best team in the league, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons, to overtime on Thursday and had points in their last four games.
“Tonight was a disappointing result with the score, but it was a good evaluation and learning experience for our team,” said Storm head coach/general manager Kevin Higo. “We learned tonight how mistakes against a veteran team can hurt you on the scoreboard.”
After a decent first period, where they outshot the Pontiacs 11-7 but fell behind 1-0 on a goal by Brendan Holterhus just 1:35 in, things started to turn in the second.
Bonnyville went ahead 2-0 when Ryan Symington scored at 1:33 and then got goals from P.J. Marrocco (12:16) and Erik Donald (17:56) to take control of the scoreboard.
Storm fans did get loud when Felip Gosselin scored at 7:41 on the powerplay to cut the lead to 2-1, but the excitement lasted only until Marrocco stretched the lead to two and then it got really quiet when Donald scored late in the period to make it 4-1 in a game that could have been much closer.
“There was some good and bad tonight,” said Higo. “We want to be in the game come the third period. The score was 4-1, but it could have been 3-2. We had limited the Pontiacs to 19 shots on goal and were in a game.”
Marrocco and Holterhus scored again along with Derek Brown in the third to rub it in a bit and give the Pontiacs their 14th win of the season and 29th point. The Storm and Sherwood Park Crusaders remain tied for fifth place with 16 points each.
Marrocco, who also had an assist, was the Away Star of the game while Landon Vollman took Home Star honors.
Arik Weersink faced 33 shots in the Storm net while Sandro Silvestre looked at 22 at the other end. Newly acquired Storm goaltender Xavier Burghardt dressed as the backup Saturday, but didn't see any action.'
For most of the game Saturday two of the team's top scorers – Jake Elmer and Logan Mazerolle – were on the sidelines.
“We had to battle through some injuries as well tonight,” said Higo. “When you lose two of your top three scorers due to injury for almost 40 minutes it will be tough to score.
“The injuries will be evaluated tonight and we will determine in the morning if they play or not Sunday”
After Sunday's game the Storm head on the road for games in Spruce Grove, Camrose and Whitecourt before returning home or games against the Brooks Bandits and Okotoks Oilers Nov. 18 and 19.