GP hosts Lloydminster this weekend
Storm look to stop early-season slide
By Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
The Grande Prairie Storm will look to snap a four-game losing skid Friday and Saturday with a double-header against the Lloydminster Bobcats at Revolution Place.
Currently holding a 3-6 record, the Storm are coming off a 4-1 loss to the Drayton Valley Thunder on Tuesday at home.
“It’s a huge weekend for us. We’re looking for more execution. We’ve been happy with our effort, we just need more execution,” said Kevin Higo, head coach and general manager of the Storm.
“Too many times in the last three or four games, we’re not scoring when we have (a) chance or we’re not blocking a shot when we need too. Those are the (times) when we need the guys to execute.”
After starting the 2014-2015 AJHL campaign with a 3-3 record, the Storm have been outscored 15-5 during the skid, while their opponents have also scored the games’ first goal.
Higo said scoring the first goal isn’t concerning.
“I think it’s just the mentality teams have now. You don’t drop back into a defensive mode anymore. Teams try to be proactive and aggressive, even if they’re up by a couple of goals, which gives you an opportunity even if you’re down,” said Higo.
“We knew right from day one that there would be some challenges with this group in scoring goals and it’s just something that’s going to take time. I think once guys get some confidence and start getting some opportunities that go in, we’ll see more (pucks) go in.”
Higo said he also wants to see an improvement from the team’s powerplay and penalty kill units this weekend.
The Storm are ranked fifth in the league with the man advantage and last in the league in penalty kill. In their last four games, the Storm are 2-17 on the powerplay and 9-15 on the penalty kill.
“Sometimes (statistics) don’t lie and sometimes they can definitely be baffling,” said Higo.
“I think if you asked anybody on the team, they would be surprised with where we’re at in regards to the powerplay because it’s been frustrating the last three or four games and not generating as much offence or goals we like. With the penalty kill, we’re not looking for excuses or not looking for any sympathy, but the PK has caught some really bad breaks.”
The four-game losing skid for the Storm included a loss to the Thunder on Tuesday, as well as 4-1 loss to the Okotoks Oilers, a 4-3 loss to the Calgary Canucks at the AJHL Showcase on Sept. 26-27 and a 3-0 loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Sept. 20.
The Bobcats come into the Swan City with a two-game win streak, 4-4-1 record and situated three points ahead of the Storm in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division standings.
The squads have split their two meetings this season. The Storm won 5-3 on Sept. 6 and were defeated 5-0 in pre-season exhibition on Aug. 24.
“(The Bobcats) play hard and they’re physical. I think you’re going to see a grind-it-out type game. I think they do have quite a few returning guys on the team,” said Higo.
“It should be a good challenge.”
Though goaltender Adam Beukeboom has started the last three games, Higo said a decision wasn’t going to be made on Friday’s starting goaltender until late Thursday evening.
Assistant captain Jade McMullen continues to lead the Storm with six goals and two assists.
Friday and Saturday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m.