Storm Host Canucks, Grizzlys This Weekend
By Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
It’s been a busy start to the month of October for the Grande Prairie Storm.
This weekend the squad will play their fifth and sixth games in eight days, hosting the Calgary Canucks Friday and the Olds Grizzlys on Saturday, at Revolution Place.
Earlier this week, the Storm embarked on a two-game road trip and finished with a 1-1 record.
Tuesday, the Storm rallied from a three-goal deficit and scored three times in the third period to send the game to overtime against the Whitecourt Wolverines. Storm forward Tristan Crozier made AJHL history, scoring five seconds into overtime – the fastest OT goal in league history – to lead the Storm to a 4-3 win.
“It was definitely a step in the right direction to do something we haven’t done before. To be honest, things looked pretty bleak there and for the guys to dig down and do what they did, was a real positive thing for us, for sure,” said Kevin Higo, head coach and general manager of the Storm, of the comeback victory.
“The (OT goal) happened so quick that I don’t if anybody had a feeling at that time, besides being real excited.”
On Wednesday, the Storm were shut out for the fourth time this season, in a 6-0 loss to the Sherwood Park Crusaders. The Crusaders added insurance to their 3-0 lead, with another three goals in the third period.
“For sure,” said Higo, when asked if we was disappointed with the team’s response.
“It was kind of a coin flip with the way (the game ended) on Tuesday. Either we were going to respond and respond positive (on Wednesday), or we were on such a high to bring the guys down and get them re-focused was a concern too. It was just not good enough (against the Crusaders). They were really structured with the way they played and they played hard. We just couldn’t get it done.”
The Storm return home with a 4-9 record and are ranked seventh in the AJHL’s North Conference. The team had Thursday off and are scheduled to have a morning skate Friday morning.
Higo said the weekend games are important for the team. He said he would like to see an improvement within the team’s small details, which include minimizing their turnovers and mistakes at both ends of the ice.
He said a positive for the team of late has been an improvement with the team’s penalty kill. Though the Storm are ranked second-last in the league shorthanded, the squad has killed of 21 of 24 penalties in their last four games.
“I think we’re starting to understand each other’s teammates a lot better. I think the guys are starting to get closer. We expect a good weekend,” said Higo.
Friday’s match against the Canucks is their second meeting of the season.
The squads met on Sept. 26 at the AJHL Showcase, where the Canucks scored three powerplay goals en route to a 4-3 win.
The Canucks sport a 5-6 record and travel into the Swan City coming off a 6-2 loss to the Canmore Eagles on Tuesday.
“The Canucks are in the second year of what you would call a re-building phase. They went young last year and returned a whole bunch of guys, so they’re an experienced group and we’re looking forward to the matchup,” said Higo.
Saturday will be the first meeting of the season against the Grizzlys.
As of press time, the Grizzlys held a 6-5-1 record and were ranked second on the powerplay. The Grizzlys were in action against the Calgary Mustangs Thursday evening.
“We expect a real physical game,” said Higo, of facing the Grizzlys.
“We’re trying to approach the weekend like (playoffs). We won the first game (Tuesday) and lost the second game (Wednesday). Now we’re coming back home. In our minds, it’s games three and four of a playoff series and us having home-ice advantage for the two games.”
Higo added the team will announce Friday’s starting goaltender on Thursday evening.
Both games start at 7:30 p.m.
Shoot For the Cure
For the eighth consecutive year, the Storm will be turning the rink pink as part of its annual Secure Energy Shoot For The Cure Cancer Society fundraiser,
The Storm will also be wearing pink-themed jerseys, which will be auctioned off during the game and presented to the winning bidders after the game.
A trip for two anywhere in the world where WestJet flies will also be up for grabs, via frisbee toss. Frisbees will be available for purchase in the foyer and from Canadian Cancer Society sellers around the rink. The closest frisbee to a target on the ice will win the trip.