By Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
The Grande Prairie Storm moved their lifetime record to 11-5 at the AJHL Showcase over the weekend in Spruce Grove, with a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Canucks on Friday, and a 4-1 loss to the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday.
Storm forwards Ben Assad, Hayden Berra and Dylan Thudium scored Friday, as goaltender Adam Beukeboom took the loss in his Storm debut, making 26 saves.
Saturday, Thudium scored the Storm’s lone goal and Beukeboom had 20 saves, as the Storm moved to 3-5 this season
“It was a very disappointing weekend for us. Losing twice is never good, but the way we lost the games wasn’t something that we had seen in the past,” said Kevin Higo, head coach and general manager of the Storm.
Higo says the Storm took a too-many-men penalty at crucial points in both games.
On Friday, with the game tied at 3-3, the Canucks scored 1:15 into the powerplay. It turned out to be the game winning goal.
During Saturday’s game, the Storm took another too-many-men penalty in the third period and just a few minutes later, the Oilers capitalized.
“They were the difference makers,” said Higo.
After spending time with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, release papers were finalized in time for Beukeboom to make his Storm debut over the weekend.
Higo said it will take time for Beukeboom, who has been practicing with the Storm since Sept. 9, to get back into game shape.
Although a winless weekend, Higo said the showcase gave him an opportunity to scout other AJHL teams.
“We’ve been able to see everybody now, in the North Division especially. Now we’ll sit back as a staff and evaluate everybody and evaluate where we are. We are probably where we deserve to be (seventh in North Division) with the way we’ve played,” said Higo.
“(The Showcase) was kind of the general consensus from a lot of the veteran (coaches and GM’s) that it’s September and everybody is scoreboard watching already, where typically that doesn’t happen until December or January.”
Higo said there was plenty of trade talks over the weekend, as teams are getting healthy and WHL prospects and players are being released back to junior A.
“We’re involved in some trade conversations. If there’s a way for us to make ourselves get better, we’ll definitely get involved, but I think also we wouldn’t mind giving this group an opportunity to play together and gel together a little bit and see where we go,” said Higo.
Tuesday, the Storm will host the Drayton Valley Thunder at 7:30 p.m. at Revolution Place.
The Thunder are 3-3-1 this season and have won two straight games.
On Aug. 29-30, the Storm split two exhibition games against the Thunder in High Level, winning 4-1 and then losing 5-1.
“They’re going to work hard and they’re going to grind out games. I don’t think they’re going to score a whole bunch of goals, but they’ll still create chances. They’re a balanced group. They have good goaltending and have a lot of returning players,” said Higo.
The Storm play their next three games on home ice. On Oct. 3-4, the Storm will host the Lloydminster Bobcats.