If there's one thing that's consistent recently for the Grande Prairie Storm, it's that nothing comes easily. Saturday night was a perfect example, as the Storm almost wasted 57 minutes of solid hockey before escaping with a 3-2 win over the cellar-dwelling Calgary Canucks.
With 2175 fans at the Canada Games Arena watching on, the Storm methodically built up a 3-0 lead over the Canucks, before almost letting it slip in the last three minutes of the game. Two Canuck goals in a span of a minute closed the gap to one, which was then followed by a penalty that left Grande Prairie short-handed for the final 23 seconds. Fortunately, the penalty killers held and prevented Calgary from forcing overtime.
Before then, it looked like it would be a cake walk for the Storm. Sasha Laroque scored late in the first period, with Mike Forsyth and Brett Printz—with his first as a member of the Storm—adding third period markers.
Coach Blaine Bablitz says Printz was a good pick up for the club at the trading deadline.
“Brett is a veteran guy who doesn't cheat you with his effort. It was good to see him get that goal, which can hopefully be the icebreaker for him, so he can relax and hopefully contribute with more goals down the stretch.”
Special teams turned out to be a key difference on the night in Grande Prairie's favour. The Storm cashed in on one of three powerplay chances, while Storm penalty killers were perfect in killing off all six Calgary chances.
The victory snapped a two-game losing skid for the Storm. It also allowed them to split a pair of games against South Division opponents over the weekend, after falling 2-0 to Olds on Friday.
Going into the night, the Storm were in a three-way tie for second in the AJHL North with Whitecourt and Bonnyville. Grande Prairie is still even with the Wolverines, who won 5-1 over Olds. The Pontiacs, however, fell two points off the pace as they lost 4-2 at home to Okotoks.
Storm and Pontiacs begin a key two-game series Tuesday night at the Canada Games Arena, with the second game on Wednesday evening. Both contests are 7:30 pm starts.
– Story submitted by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com