By Logan Clow, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune
Frustration continues to mount for the Grande Prairie Storm.
The squad extended their losing skid to four games with a 4-0 loss to the Drumheller Dragons on Friday and a 5-3 loss to the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday at Revolution Place.
Kevin Higo, head coach and general manager of the Storm, said the team’s costly mistakes are hampering them.
“It would be very much to say that frustration is through the roof for everybody involved here. It’s not so much the lack of work ethic, it’s just the mistakes,” said Higo, following Saturday’s loss.
“We’re at the point that if something is going to go wrong, it’s going to happen to us. But, we just addressed that as a team. There’s nothing we can do about that. What we have to avoid are the mistakes where we score a goal and get momentum and then (opponents) score the very next shift. That can’t happen.”
Friday, Swan City native Curtis Skip earned a 24-save, 4-0 shutout performance against his former team. The Dragons goaltender tweeted after the game, “Tonight will forever stick out in my career, very emotional win.” It was the second consecutive game (and sixth time this season) the Storm were shut out.
The Oilers scored short-handed and powerplay goals in the first period to take a 2-0 lead on Saturday. Early in the second, Storm newcomer Braden Oleksyn made it a 2-1 game via a jam play out front of the Oilers net. Off the ensuing face-off – only 13 seconds later – the Oilers responded to make it 3-1. By the end of the period both teams had added another two goals, cutting the Storm’s comeback bid short.
With the weekend losses, the Storm are 7-16 and ranked last in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division.
“Down for sure,” said Higo, of the atmosphere in the team’s dressing room.
“I think some of the guys are down because they’re not getting the results they want. Some guys are probably understanding that it’s not as easy as they thought it was going to be and understanding that it is a challenge.”
Higo said with having such a young team, the squad’s rookies are also likely having problems adjusting to the junior A schedule.
“Some of those guys are probably hitting the wall more mentally than physically, but it’s just something we have to fight through,” he said.
“What we’re providing here is a majority of younger guys don’t get and we try to talk to the guys on a regular basis that they’re getting more ice time than they probably would somewhere else and that’s a positive thing for them. Now, it’s just a matter of when it’s your chance, go out and do your job.”
The Storm play their next three games on the road, beginning with the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Friday, followed by the Spruce Grove Saints on Saturday. Then, on Nov. 11, the Storm visit the Drayton Valley Thunder.
Higo added the Storm will focus on “a little bit of everything…” in practice this week.
The Storm return home on Nov. 14-15 to host the Brooks Bandits and Calgary Mustangs.