By JORDAN PARKER
The Grande Prairie Storm will face their long-time rivals in a exhibition double header.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League team were eliminated last year by the Whitecourt Wolverines in the first round of the playoffs.
This weekend, the two teams will clash again in exhibition action, with back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s our last two exhibition games, and we’re really hoping to finish final evaluations and see where we stand from there,” said Storm assistant coach Dennis Rix.
“We want to see how our guys perform in different situations, and this is a chance for them to show us what they have.”
The Storm have had a difficult exhibition season, losing both their home and away games against the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings.
But Rix sees the story beyond the scoreboard totals.
“We’ve done well and we’ve seen what we wanted to. We have been happy with the team and want to ramp things up going into the regular season,” he said.
“It’s important right now we look at chemistry, and who can play with who. You need to see where players fit, whether it’s on special teams, at centre, or somewhere else.”
The Storm made the playoffs for the first time since the 2012-2013 campaign last year, and are looking for some friendly competition with the team that dashed their post-season hopes.
“They’re a good team. Whitecourt is always strong, and we expect it to be a good game,” said Rix.
“The guys are excited, and they know the regular season is right around the corner.”
The roster has yet to be finalized for the Storm, and there are still changes that could be made before the regular season.
“We’re definitely looking to tweak things. We have a good core to work with. There will be a few pieces added and we’ll see where guys do or don’t fit,” he said.
“We’re happy with what we have, but there will probably be a few more adjustments to be made.”
Friday’s game is in Whitecourt. Saturday, the Storm host at Revolution Place at 7:30 p.m.
Rix said it doesn’t matter if the team plays at home or away.
“It just shouldn’t be a factor. But getting (the players) on the road and getting them used to travelling is big,” he said.
“Then having the boys at home and giving fans a taste for the hockey that will comes this year is great. It’ll also show our guys what it’s like to have the home crowd supporting them.”