If Ethan Slobodzian was nervous about playing his first-ever Junior A playoff game he hid it pretty well.
The rookie Storm netminder, who turns 19 in May, was cool, calm and collected while helping the Grande Prairie Storm to a 4-1 win over the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the first game of a best-of-five Alberta Junior Hockey League quarter-final played in Revolution Place Arena Wednesday night.
Slobodzian, who has been tossed into the No. 1 role after veteran Charles-Olivier Levesque went down with an injury on Feb. 19, turned aside 39 of 40 shots while earning his first-ever Junior A win.
His most important work came in the first period after the Storm had taken a 1-0 lead on a goal from Walker Cote at 4:44.
After taking the lead the Storm went a stretch where they were out-shot 10-1 with Slobodzian turning them all away.
He was also busy in the second period when the Crusaders out-shot the Storm 16-12.
While Slobdzian's work was important, it was a goal by Edouard Michaud at 7:53 of the second that was probably the biggest turning point of the game.
It gave the Storm, on their heels somewhat after taking the lead, a little bit of breathing room and ended up being the game-winner.
The Storm got to exhale some more at 13:21 when Noah Walters scored on the powerplay to make it 3–0.
The Crusaders didn't go away after falling behind by three.
William Zapernick scored on the powerplay with 4:04 to go in the middle frame giving the Crusaders some life and they came out hard to open the third – only to be turned away by Slobodzian every time.
Jared Power, on the powerplay, put the final nail in scoring at 6:20 of the third to make it 4-1.
It was a bit of a goofy final 20, that took almost 60 to play.
Nineteen minor penalties were handed out in the third and three 10 minute misconducts in what was a face-washing frenzy that had the 1,000-plus fans booing and bored.
Game 2 in the series goes Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Revolution Place Arena.