Storm Fall To Saints

If there is any good news about having to play three games in three days it's the fact if you lose the first one you get a chance to get back on track very quickly.

That's the case for the Grande Prairie Storm.

After losing the first game of three on the road in three days, 3-1 to the Spruce Grove Saints Friday, the Storm are right back at it Saturday in Drayton Valley for the first of two in two days against the Thunder.

The Storm could also probably be excused if they were looking beyond the Saints heading into Friday's game.

Spruce Grove sits in third place 27 points ahead of the Storm. The Thunder are in seventh – one point back of the Storm making the pair in Drayton two huge games as Grande Prairie tries to grab a playoff spot for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

If the Storm do finish seventh or better, goaltender Arik Weersink will be a good part of the reason.

Weersink was outstanding again Friday while facing 35 shots and grabbing Away Star of the game honors.

“I thought Weersink played excellent for us tonight,” said Storm head coach/general manager Matt Keillor. “He really had to make some big saves for us at key points in the game.”

Spruce Grove, on goals by Josh Harris and Sean Comrie, took a 2-0 lead in the first and then extended that to 3-0 on a powerplay goal by Eric Benshadle in the second.

The Storm shook off the bus legs by the third and were rewarded with a late goal off the stick of Cruz Cote.

“We started to get out legs underneath us in the third, but then had our momentum stalled with penalty trouble,” said Keillor.

Cote's goal was his fourth of the season and 14th point.

“It was nice to see Cruz rewarded with a goal late in the third for going hard to the net,” said Keillor. “That gave us a chance to pull Weersink or the extra attacker. Clarke (leading scorer Michael) had an excellent opportunity to put us within one, but couldn't find the net.”

The Storm ended up with one powerplay chance while the Saints had three.

Nolan Kent in the SG net faced 18 Storm shots.

The games against the Thunder are the final road games of the 2016 portion of the schedule for the Storm. They finish up 2016 with a home game against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in Revolution Place on Friday, Dec. 30.