Maybe next time the Drayton Valley Thunder should just decline the penalty.
On a night when the powerplay was silent, it was the Grande Prairie Storm penalty killers who led the way offensively. Ryan Baskerville and Mike Forsyth both scoring short-handed goals, as the Storm thumped the Thunder 5-1 in front of 1767 fans Tuesday night at the Canada Games Arena. Baskerville's goal—his first of two on the night—was especially huge, as it snapped a 1-1 tie late in the first period and sent the Storm on their way to a dominating win.
Coach Blaine Bablitz liked what he saw from his PK unit, especially considering it was missing forward Jordan McTaggart, who is out with a concussion.
“Our penalty killers were extremely sharp. Drayton Valley likes to utilize the point on their powerplays and our guys were doing a great job of picking off the passes. This led to some odd-man breaks for us and tonight we capitalized on some of those chances.”
Gus Correale and Sunday's overtime hero, Scott Milnthorp, also tallied for the home side, while Forsyth added two assists to go along with his goal. That gives the club captain six points in his last two games.
Neither team managed to score on the powerplay, as the Thunder went 0-for-5 and the Storm 0-for-4. On the few chances where Drayton Valley did threaten, Nick Kulmanovsky was solid between the pipes to shut them down. Kulmanovsky finishing with 22 saves on the evening.
Aside from the lackluster powerplay, Bablitz liked the all-round performance of his troops.
“From start to finish, we were strong on the puck tonight. The work ethic was definitely there, as was the energy of the team. I don't think Drayton Valley was at their best, but a lot of that is that we just didn't give them a chance to get any momentum going.”
With no other games on the AJHL schedule Tuesday, the Storm were also able to leapfrog past a couple of teams in the standings. Grande Prairie is now second with 68 points—tied with Fort McMurray, but with one game in hand on the Oil Barons. Bonnyville now slips to fourth with 67 points, while the Whitecourt and Drayton Valley follow, with 64 and 63 points respectively.
Storm now head out on the road for a pair of games this weekend. Saturday night, they're in Drayton Valley, followed by a Sunday matinee contest in Sherwood Park. They then return home to close out the regular season on March 1st and 2nd against the same two squads—the Crusaders on the Friday night, followed by the Thunder on the Saturday evening.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com