Storm Put Up The Good Fight Against Pontiacs

The hump can be an intimidating thing, but once you get over it the rewards usually equal the effort.

For the Grande Prairie Storm the effort has been there all year, but the hump keeps getting in the way.

Getting over the hump could be something as simple as winning a game on a bad bounce instead of losing one that way. Or turning a two-goal lead into a three or four-goal lead and romping to victory instead of seeing two-goal leads disappear and losing a close game you deserved to win.

For the Storm the latter has been the hump of late.

It got in the way Saturday against the Okotoks Oilers and again Monday night in Bonnyville.

After going up 2-0 and then rebounding from a 3-2 deficit to tie the game the Storm fell 4-3 to a Pontiacs team that is tied for top spot in the Alberta Junior Hockey League's North Division.

“Tonight was a night that the team deserved a better result,” said Storm head coach/general manager Kevin Higo. “They battled and competed and played hard all game. We got off to a good start in the first period and were rewarded with a goal, which was good to see.

“Even though we gave up two goals in the second period we played well and generated some good chances.”

The good news is the Storm continue to sit on a good playoff position, seven points up on the eighth place Lloydminster Bobcats, and they have three more chances this week to flatten the hump as they move close to the halfway point of the 60-game regular season.

Thursday night they visit the Saints in Spruce Grove and then this weekend – Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. – the Whitecourt Wolverines, tied for top spot in the North with the Pontiacs, are in Grande Prairie to take on the Storm. They reach the halfway point on Nov. 29 with a game in Lloydminster.

Lots of time to get that hump flattened and get to work on some streaks like they did when they took points in seven of their first eight home games.

On Monday Walker Cote got over a bit of a personal hump scoring his first goal of the season helping the Storm take a 1-0 lead just 2:40 into the game. Dallas Comeau, with his first of two on the night, made it 2-0 at 2:44 of the second.

Bonnyville struck back with two of their own to tie it when Charlie Gawlicki scored at 10:44 and then Alden Dupuis at 13:10 of the second.

The Pontiacs took the lead at 3-2 when Derek Brown scored at 3:37 of the third and Comeau's second of the night at 8:19 evened it at 3-3.

“In the third we fell behind and were able to tie the game up – which was great for the boys. They stuck with the game plan and were rewarded.”

Mitchell Oliver's powerplay tally at 10:39 of the third ended up being the game winner giving the Pontiacs their 19th win and 41st point of the season.

The Pontiacs had three PP chances, including a five-on-three when the score was tied in the third, scoring the winning goal at the tail end of the second penalty. The Storm had no PP chances.

“In a game like that to put a team down three-on-five is puzzling,” said Higo. “Then to not have a powerplay all game is even more frustrating for everyone.”

Sixteen-year-old Logan  Moon had two assists on the night. He, along with Brenden Kwiatkowski, were call-ups from the Midget AAA Storm team.

“Logan and Brenden played well,” said Higo.

Xavier Burghardt played the first two periods in net for the Storm and faced 25 shots before having to leave with an injury while Arik Weersink, who took the loss, looked at 12 in the third. Sandro Silvestre was in the Pontiac net and faced 26 Storm shots.

The Drayton Valley Thunder defeated the Bobcats 5-2 on Monday to move into a tie for sixth with the Storm with 16 points.