Perhaps itâ??s because Halloween is just around the corner that the Grande Prairie Storm players decided to give their fans at the Canada Games Arena one heck of a good scare on Saturday night. Doing their best imitation of both Jekyl and Hyde, the Storm were amazingly good for the first forty minutes before turning scary bad in the final twenty, in a 5-4 win over the Calgary Mustangs.
Storm were firing on all cylinders in the first two periods, racing out to a 5-0 lead. It could have easily been more, if not for some huge saves by Mustangs goalie Ravi Dattani, who replaced a shaky Jake Tamagi after the first three scores.
The Mustangs, however, scored early in the third period to break the shut out and that seemed to un-nerve the Storm. By the fourteen minute mark of the period, Calgary had narrowed the margin to just one goal, forcing the Storm to scramble in the final six minutes to desperately hold onto the win.
Coach Blaine Bablitz admitted afterwards that it was tough to see his troups come apart in the final twenty minutes. â??Calgary loves to play that wide open style and we got pulled into playing that game with them. Even when we were up 5-0, we were making plenty of mistakes. That caught up with us in the third period.â?
Storm scored on their first two powerplays of the night, with Sasha Laroque getting his first goal of the year and Ryan Matthews adding his fourth. Marc-Etienne Drapeau chipped in with his fifth of the year before the period was out to give the home side the early edge. In fact, both Matthews and Drapeau had three points apiece in the frame.
When Jade McMullen notched his third goal of the year and Tanner Labbe his seventh before the second period was half way through, Grande Prairie looked to be in position to cruise to their sixth win in seven outings against South Division teams this season.
Credit the Mustangs, though, with not giving up. Being down five heading into the third in this one, they could have easily folded the tent and started to look towards their Sunday afternoon contest in Drayton Valley. Instead, after Joe Serpico scored early in the final frame, Doug McDonald, Matt Hesletine and Damien Kulynych all tallied within a three-minute span midway through the third, causing the final several minutes to be white knuckle time for both the Storm and their supporters.
With the victory, Grande Prairie improves to 8-5-2 on the year. Coach Bablitz knows theyâ??ll have to be better Tuesday night, when Whitecourt comes to town. â??We canâ??t repeat the mistakes we made tonight. The Wolverines are too good of a team for us to expect to win, if we continue to turn over the puck all the time.â?
The Wolverines actually play both Tuesday and again on Friday in Grande Prairie. Itâ??s the first two regular season meetings between the clubs. They met twice in preseason, with each team pulling out an overtime win in the otherâ??s barn.
-Story supplied by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com