By LOGAN CLOW
The last week has been anything but ordinary for Matt Keillor.
Last Thursday, Keillor was named head coach and GM of the Grande Prairie Storm to replace Kevin Higo who was let go.
“Like anything else, when you’re brought in at this stage of the (season), it’s pretty busy, pretty hectic, but I’ve had a good chance to obviously familiarize myself with the guys now, which is pretty important. We’ve had five or six practices together now and practice has been going quite well,” said Keillor, of the last few days.
“…I’m definitely not going to implement something that is going to take a lot of time or is really hard to understand. Now is not the right time to do that and we’ll continue to just build off and adding a little bit more to what they’ve already done.”
Storm set for key road swing
There’s no need to remind the players just how important this weekend is.
After the team plays in Spruce Grove Friday, they’ll play two road games against the Drayton Valley Thunder on Saturday and Sunday.
The Storm (8-22-4) are sixth in the AJHL North Division, but only one point up on the Drayton Valley Thunder who are seventh and have two-games in hand on the Storm.
“I don’t need to tell the guys how important the games against Drayton Valley are. They understand that and I have faith that these guys will do the right things…,” said Keillor.
“We just have to make sure we look after all the details and we’re as prepared as possible and that’s all we can do.”
Keillor said the most notable adjustment that needs to be made with the team is their defensive play.
The Storm are second in the AJHL having allowed 151 goals against.
“…Just supporting each other on the defensive side of the puck is just something we definitely we want to be better at,” he said.
If the stats are any indication, special teams could also be a contributing factor this weekend.
The Saints, who are fourth in AJHL North with a 22-10-2 record, have the league’s No. 1 ranked penalty kill.
It’s quite the opposite for the Thunder, who have the league’s worst ranked penalty.
Adding to the special teams intrigue is that the Storm have the AJHL’s worst road powerplay.
After their three-game road swing, the Storm host the Fort McMurray Oil Barons on Dec. 30.
Keillor said his plan is to re-evaluate the team next week and determine potential additions and subtractions that would need to be made before or on the Jan. 10 CJHL trade deadline.
At this point, Keillor said he doesn’t anticipate anything major.
“From my experience, and with the group we have, I definitely feel we can make the playoffs and that’s still the number one goal here is to get that done, especially for some of the guys who have been here for awhile and have developed – we feel they deserve that opportunity too,” he said.