Storm Fall In First Game Of Playoffs

You could forgive the Grande Prairie Storm if they were a little nervous heading into the opening game of a playoff series.

The post season has not been familiar ground for the GP club, which hasn't made it beyond the regular season since 2013.

Part of the reason the Storm lost 6-0 in Game 1 of a best-of-five series against the Whitecourt Wolverines in Whitecourt Thursday might have been contributed to some uneasiness, but the fact they were playing a very good veteran hockey club was no doubt a factor.

“Experience played a huge part in today's game,” said Storm head coach/general manager Matt Keillor. “We were tentative and we waited tonight.

“And when you wait against a team like Whitecourt this is the result.”

Two late goals in the first – by Liam Motley at 18:02 and then Mitch Lipon unassisted at 19:01 – put the Storm on their heels and helped set up a big second period for Whitecourt.

In the middle frame the Wolverines fired 21 shots at Storm netminders Arik Weersink and Xavier Burghardt and scored three times to put the game out of reach.

Two of those goals came when the Storm were killing penalties. First Joseph Nardi at 1:57 and then Ryan Grant at 7:06. Evan Tschumi made it 5-0 at 14:07. Nardi scored the only goal of the third to round out the scoring.

Weersink was in net for five of the goals facing 29 shots while Burghardt looked at 19 shots.

Pierce Diamond got the shutout blocking all 19 shots directed his way. It was his sixth shutout of the season.

The Storm are down 1-0 in the series, but it is just round one of what could be a five-rounder.

“The message is it is like a title fight,” he said. “We came up with a plan and took one on the chin and then forgot about the plan.

“Tonight we get back in the corner, get some water and some rest and step back on for Round 2 tomorrow.”

Friday's game starts at 7:30 p.m. and Game 3 goes in Grande Prairie on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.