By Logan Clow – DAILY HERALD TRIBUNE
No lead is safe in sports and over the weekend, the Grande Prairie Storm learned just that during their two-game homestand.
Friday, the Brooks Bandits scored three goals in the third period – including two on the powerplay – to rally from a 3-1 deficit and win 4-3; Storm leading scorer Jade McMullen scored twice and goaltender Liam McLeod made 32 saves.
It was a similar situation 24 hours later against the Calgary Mustangs. Not only did McMullen have another two-goal game, but with a 3-1 lead headed into the third period, the Mustangs scored an early powerplay goal. This time, the Storm managed to survive a late, third period surge from the Mustangs and win 3-2; McLeod turned aside 24 shots.
Kevin Higo, head coach and general manager of the Storm, said the squad took undisciplined, third period penalties in both games.
“Definitely discipline, but it’s part of our learning curve too. The games are getting intense and it’s a totally different ball game with the intensity when the games are 3-2 or it’s 5-1 going into the third period,” noted Higo.
The Storm are 10-18 this season and ranked seventh in the AJHL North Division.
“I think our work ethic is getting to a point now where we’re competing. I think the game in Spruce Grove (a 10-1 loss on Nov. 8) kind of woke everybody up…” said Higo, following their 3-2 win.
“Today was a game that we identified that we had to win and we got the two points… probably not the way we wanted to get the two points, but we’ll take the two”
McMullen’s four-goal weekend puts him in a tie for first place in league scoring with 19 goals and his 30 points are ranked fourth.
The 19-year-year-old, who committed to Rochester Institute of Technology of the NCAA last week, has scored five goals in his last three games, good for a career year.
“In the previous games, he’s really been a target and for him to fight through that and still get some offensive production has been great to see,” said Higo.
“I think he’s developed into a real solid, two-way guy and his work ethic has been really good too.”
Saturday, Ernie’s Sports Experts Midget AAA Storm forward Ryan Hartman also suited up for the Storm. Because the squad had the weekend off, Higo said it presented an opportunity to get him into the line-up.
“He’s a good kid, works hard and asks a lot of questions. He wants to be a (junior A) player, so I think he fits in to exactly what we’re looking for,” noted Higo.
The Storm return to practice Monday to prepare for a game against the Lloydminster Bobcats (15-7-2) on Tuesday at Revolution Place at 7:30 p.m.
It’s the fourth meeting of the season between the teams. The Storm are 1-2 against the Bobcats this season.
“We have to tighten up defensively,” noted Higo.
“Getting timely saves is important but also not giving up as many shots is important too.”
The Storm will then travel to play Drayton Valley on Thursday, followed by a two-game road trip to Fort McMurray on Nov. 28-29. The squad’s next home game is on Dec. 6 against Canmore.