Storm Take Top Team in North to O.T.

Grande Prairie Storm head coach/general manager Kevin Higo and his team headed for the long eight-hour ride home Thursday night with a point gained against the best team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

And they weren't that happy about it.

“We really felt we could have earned more,” said Higo. “We are staying positive and looking at the fact it was against the division leading team and that point will be valuable in the long run.”

The only time the Storm trailed in the game was when Liam Izyk scored 1:03 into overtime to give the hometown Fort McMurray Oil Barons a 3-2 win. 

The Storm took their first lead when Jake Elmer scored on the powerplay 13:47 into the game to open the scoring. It was his team-leading fourth PP goal of the season and his 12th point.

The Barons got that back when Brandon Ralph scored with 4:46 to go in the opening frame.

Quebec native Felip Gosselin made it 2-1 Storm at 10:26 of the second with his second of the season and Fort Mac's Gunner Kinninburgh set up the OT when he scored at 6:38 of the third to tie it at 2-2.

“It was an entertaining game as there were some quality scoring chances from both teams throughout the game,” said Higo. “As usual special teams had a factor in the game. The Oil Barons had the best home powerplay in the league and our penalty kill did a great job shutting them down twice.

“As well the Oil Barons penalty kill is at the top of the rankings at home and our PP was able to score the first goal of the game.”

Storm netminder Arik Weersink, the Away Star of the Game, was the busier of the two netminders. He faced 45 shots, including 18 in the third, while the Storm fired 27 at Eric Szudor at the other end.

Thursday's game featured a battle between the two most improved teams in the North Division.

Fort Mac finished seventh last year and the Storm eighth. The Oil Barons have already surpassed their points total from last year while the Storm, after only 18 games, are just 10 away from the 26 they accumulated after 60 games last season. Thursday's game was the fourth in a row when the Storm collected at least one point.

That point moves the Storm to within 11 points of the fourth place Bonnyville Pontiacs. A team they face twice this weekend (Saturday 7:30 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m.) in Revolution Place.

The Storm are two up on the sixth place Sherwood Park Crusaders, six ahead of the Drayton Valley Thunder in seventh and 11 points on the last place Lloydminster Bobcats.