The Grande Prairie Storm road train got a little off track before Christmas, but it is chugging along just fine in 2018.
A 5-1 win over the Spruce Grove Saints in the Edmonton suburb city on Friday is good indication the club has rebounded well from the pre-holiday skid. Combined with a 6-4 road win over the Drayton Valley Thunder the road win rebound is now at two games with the third set up for Saturday in Sherwood Park against the Crusaders.
Friday the Storm were led by two veterans – forward Justin Bernier and goaltender Charles-Olivier Levesque.
Bernier, the AJHL scoring leader, had three goals – his first hat trick of the season – and Levesque turned aside 38 of 39 shots against the best team in the North Division.
“Levesque made some big saves at key times and I thought it was one of his best performances of the year,” said Storm head coach/assistant general manager. “I thought the (Edouard) Michaud line with Bernier and (Dallas) Comeau were creating turnovers and attacking with speed.
“Their efforts were felt on the scoresheet with eight points between the three.”
Comeau had a goal and a helper and Michaud three assists. Connor Blake netted the other GP goal. The only Spruce Grove goal came in the third off the stick of Tanner Hickey.
The Storm led 1-0 after the first and 4-0 after 40. They scored once on four powerplay chances and the Saints once on three tries.
“We worked all week on special teams and reaped the benefits tonight,” said Keillor, whose team managed their five goals on just 22 shots. “It's not often you get opportunities to score against a team like Spruce, but tonight when those opportunities arose we capitalized and made the most of them.”
Bernier leads the league with 57 points on 24 goals and 33 helpers. Comeau (14-32-47) and Michaud (24-22-46) are third and fourth respectively in league scoring.
Again Friday, as was the case Thursday, the team inserted a handful iced of midget call-ups (AP's).
“Again four AP's in the lineup tonight did an excellent job for us and gave us some energy when we needed it,” said Keillor.
The win moves the Storm five points up on the fifth-place Crusaders.
“Now we re-focus and turn our attention to Sherwood Park,” said Keillor. “They're right on our heels and the guys know how big these divisional games are.”
After Saturday the team returns home to practice and then heads out again for games in Fort McMurray against the Oil Barons and then back to Spruce Grove next weekend before playing their first home game of 2018 on January 19.