Storm Take Top Team in South to O.T.

It was the largest home crowd of the season – 1,308 strong – but also somewhat disappointing to be so close to two points and have to settle for one.

A former teammate returned to Grande Prairie to score the overtime tally that gave the Calgary Canucks a 4-3 win over the Grande Prairie Storm on Secure Energy Shoot For The Cure night Saturday.

Ben Assad, who played 79 games with the Storm from 2014-2016, scooped up a rebound in the crease and deposited the puck into an open net to send the big crowd home in a grumpy mood.

For most of the game, however, it was happy times on pink night as they watched their team play with the lead, including a 3-1 spread halfway through the second period.

Things were well in control for the Storm until the third period showed up.

Shots on goal, 15-4 in favor of the Canucks, was good indication of how the ice tilted in the final frame, but even when the Canucks tied the game at 3-3 on a powerplay tally by Josh Giacomin at 11:15 there was time for the Storm to redeem themselves – if not in the final 8:45 of regulation perhaps in overtime.

“A bad break on the third goal against was something we couldn't control,” said Storm head coach/general manager Kevin Higo.

“After that we had some push back, but had to work through the penalties late in the game.

“The penalty kill unit did a great job to get us to overtime, but eventually they scored the winner.”

When Jason Wenzel took an instigator penalty and five minute major with 1:34 remaining in the third putting the Canucks on a five-minute powerplay the game plan had to change from trying to score to trying not to be scored on.

The Storm weathered the storm, so to speak, to get it to the extra frame and earn at least a point, but any thoughts of making it two went out the window when Assad scored his eighth of the season early in the four-on-three PP in OT.

“Tonight was exactly what we expected from the Calgary Canucks,” said Storm Higo. “A tough battle that was going to go right down to the bitter end.

“Unfortunately we were the ones that were left with a bitter taste.”

The Storm got off  to the start they wanted when Dallas Comeau scored at 1:53 of the first period. Brett Van Os got that back for the Canucks at 4:42 and then Dolan Bjornson's PP tally at 13:10 made it 2-1.

Just 34 seconds into the second Logan Mazerolle made it 3-1 and it appeared the Storm were well on their way to their fifth win after six home games.

The ice started to tilt when the Canucks made it 3-2, on a goal by Kyler Magus, at 15:59 of the second period setting up Giacomin's tying tally in the third and ultimately Assad's OT heroics.

Assad's goal was the only Calgary shot in the OT and 16 of their 28 total came in the third and extra frame. The Canucks also hit three goal posts in the final 10 minutes.

Arik Weersink was in net for the Storm while Logan Drackett was in the Canuck cage and faced 25 GP shots.

The Storm scored twice on nine PP chances while the Canucks were one for nine.

While two points would have been nice, Higo wasn't disappointed in taking one against the top team in the South Division.

“Tonight's point is one of those single points that will become more valuable as the season moves on,” he said. There were four games that went into OT tonight so that's eight teams that got at least a single point. Sure we could have used the two points, but one now moves us into a tie for fifth.”

The Storm are tied with the Sherwood Park Crusaders, 12 points each, for fifth, six up on the seventh place Drayton Valley Thunder.
Next action for the Storm is next weekend when the Canmore Eagles visit Friday and the Olds Grizzlys Saturday.