By GORDON ANDERSON
The Grande Prairie Storm open up a two-game home stand when the Bonnyville Pontiacs come to town for a Wednesday night game at Revolution Place. They host the Brooks Bandits on Friday. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. both nights.
“A lot of our games against the Pontiacs (17-27-8) have been tight, a lot of overtime games,” Storm coach Matt Keillor said. “They’re a good checking team, tight defensively. It should be an interesting matchup.”
Currently, the Storm (23-25-3) are stuck in a four-game losing skid. It’s probably not a coincidence they’ve lost all four games of those games on the road.
During the recent three-city trip, spread over the last two weekends, Keillor was presented with challenging scenarios.
Keillor had three forward lines in one game; defencemen playing forward; he’s been forced to play with five defencemen and affiliates he barely knows.
“Despite the injuries and illness I like where we’re at,” Keillor said after practice on Tuesday morning. “I can’t be disappointed in that. We know, when we’re healthy, we’re going to be better and these guys know it too.”
Currently the team is without Connor Blake, Noah Walters, Christopher Lanouette and Cruz Cote.
The Storm also seem to lose in clumps. Not including this current funk, they have one five-game losing streak and a pair of three-game losing streaks.
Every one of those losses was on the road except for one.
“Some of it seems to stem from injuries,” Keillor said about losing in clumps. “As of this Friday, we’ll have had all 19 of our affiliate players play at least one game for us. I’ve never seen it before … We can’t stay healthy. It’s been frustrating.”
“Our power play (also) has a lot to do with it,” Keillor continued. “When we lose in clumps we don’t score. It’s just goes like that sometimes.”
The team has played with its intended roster in, well, Keillor’s not exactly sure how many games.
“To be honest, maybe five or six games,” Keillor said “It’s not just the games, it’s the practices too. We want to practice the powerplay and, sometimes, we have 12 or 13 guys at practice because of illness and injury.”