If they could just find a way to get every game into a shoot out, the Grande Prairie Storm would likely be leading the way in the AJHL, rather than fighting for a playoff spot.
Storm are the legitimate kings of the penalty shot competition, after beating the Calgary Mustangs 3-2 in a shoot out Saturday night, in front of 1490 delighted fans. They are 6-1 in games which go past overtime this season, including a perfect 5-0 on home ice.
Landon Gross and Dylan Thudium both scored on nice dekes in the shoot out, while goalie Nick Kulmanovsky slammed the door shut on both Calgary shooters he faced. Kulmanovsky was rock solid between the pipes, in stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced in regulation and overtime, plus both in the shoot out.
For the longest while, this one looked destined to be another hard luck story for the home side. Despite badly outshooting their guests, the Storm found themselves down 2-0 when the Mustangs popped a pair early in the second period.
Rory Court finally snapped the goose egg later in the period, which caused a flood of teddy bears to immediately hit the ice. It was the annual Teddy Bear Toss night and the club collected over 1400 bears for children's charities.
Seven minutes into the third, Jade McMullen notched the equalizer for the Storm, just as a fight was breaking out elsewhere on the ice. Although he could have blown the play dead, the referee allowed the goal to stand.
Coach Matt Hughes says it was nice to see his hard luck squad finally catch a break.
“Finally, a bounce went our way. I actually didn't even see the goal, as I was watching the fight start. We'll certainly take it, though.”
Storm powerplay had another uneventful night, going 0-for-5. The penalty killers were only called on to kill off one Calgary manpower advantage, but it was a big one. The call came just before overtime, putting the Storm down four men to three for over a minute and a half to start the extra time.
The victory moves Grande Prairie six points up on Drayton Valley for the final playoff spot. The Thunder, however, do have three games in hand. Storm hit the ice again on Tuesday, as they play host to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons at 7:30.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountry.Sports.com.