By Logan Clow- Daily Herald Tribune
At this point in the season, the Grande Prairie Storm will welcome any points they can get.
Over the weekend, the squad lost 4-0 to the Camrose Kodiaks on Friday, then rebounded with a 4-3 win on Saturday over the Canmore Eagles at Revolution Place.
The split weekend moves the Storm to 12-22, as they maintain their seventh spot in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division.
Saturday’s victory was important for the Storm, helping them move one point back of the Drayton Valley Thunder, who lost a pair of weekend games to the Lloydminster Bobcats, for sixth in the North Division. The win also gave the Storm a four-point cushion on the eighth-place Whitecourt Wolverines, who lost 4-1 to the Kodiaks on Saturday.
“I thought (the games) were both productive for us,” said Kevin Higo, head coach and general manager of the Storm.
“I thought some guys stepped up and played well. Obviously, it’s going to take some time with the new guys coming in. I think even (Saturday) we were a little bit short staffed on the back end and Carter Wolski comes in and plays two games in one day. What we’ve tried with these affiliates coming in is not have them sit on the bench, but have them play”
Wolski suited up on the blueline earlier in the day with the Ernie’s Sports Experts and had an assist in a 7-2 win over the SEAC Tigers at the Crosslink County Sportsplex.
Friday, the Storm and Kodiaks – the top team in AJHL – were scoreless headed into the third period. Newly acquired Storm defenceman Alex Brewer, added in the Jade McMullen deal last week, was given a game misconduct and five-minute major early in the third period for a check to the head.
The Kodiaks capitalized on the powerplay and added three more goals – outshooting the Storm 21-5 in the final frame – to hand the Storm their sixth shutout loss of the season. Storm goaltender Logan Thompson made 36 saves.
Following the game, Brewer was handed a two-game suspension for the penalty.
Saturday, Ben Assad, Josh Zablocki, Ian McLellan and Dustin Gorgi scored for the Storm, who killed all four of their penalties against the league’s top powerplay. Thompson also picked up his first victory with the Storm, turning aside 33 shots, as the Storm outshot the Eagles 44-36.
Against the top powerplay (Canmore) and penalty-killing (Camrose) squads in the league, the Storm were 0-7 on the powerplay, but killed off seven of their eight penalties.
“Our powerplay has got to get better. We had points in times (on Saturday) that we could push away and get a two or three-goal spread. We haven’t been able to do that and even (Friday) night we had numerous chances. We had three powerplays in the second period and didn’t get enough done,” said Higo.
The Storm host the Whitecourt Wolverines on Dec. 13-14.
Higo noted it’s the most important two games of the month for the Storm, who are 2-1 against the Wolverines this season.
“We’ll focus a lot on the speciality teams (in practice), for sure. I think managing the puck is a big thing (too),” noted Higo, adding the team wants to cut down on their offensive and defensive zone turnovers.
“It’s the stretch run and the guys realize that Christmas isn’t too far away and keeping focused will be very important.”
The Storm wrap their homestand on Dec. 16 against Sherwood Park.
Their 2014 potion of the season finishes on Dec. 19-21 with a road trip against the Calgary Canucks, Canmore Eagles and Calgary Mustangs.