Storm Winning Habits Continue


It's a word that hasn't been associated with the Grande Prairie Storm for a few years.

You can only have swagger if you have created a trend of success.

Some people might call it being cocky, but it's more about confidence.

Winning builds confidence and the Storm have had a pretty good trend of success of late.

A 3-1 win over the Bonnyville Pontiacs in Revolution Arena on Saturday was their third in a row and eighth win in the last 11. They have had just one regular time loss in that stretch and points in 10 of the last 11.

Storm head coach/assistant Matt Keillor knows confidence is good, but over-confidence can make stagger fleeting.

“We're happy for the guys, but we're humble,” said Keillor. “We have to keep finding ways to improve and most importantly finding ways to build and maintain a winning culture here in Grande Prairie.”

One person doing his best to help create that winning culture is forward Justin Bernier.

The Quebec native, after two goals in a 3-2 overtime win over the Pontiacs on Friday, had another goal on Saturday and now leads the Alberta Junior Hockey League in points with 26.

Bernier hasn't missed a beat since losing linemate Edouard Michaud to injury earlier in the year.

He has seven points in five games without Michaud, who was the team point leader when he was injured, while Jonothan Hader, who filled in for the missing Michaud on the Bernier line, has four points in five games.

“I was really impressed with Hader this weekend,” said Keillor. “With the injury to Michaud he has moved up to centre that top line and he's done an excellent job so far.

“He's very smart on both sides of the puck and is giving guys like Bernier the puck at the right time.”

Rookie goaltender Ethan Slobodzian has been pretty impressive too.

The 18-year-old Mount Hope, ON native is undefeated in his Junior A career.

He got win No. 4 Saturday while making 26 saves. He is second in the league in goals-against average at 1.75 and has stopped 109 of 116 shots in those four games.

“Slobodzian was great again,” said Keillor. He's really taken his role here seriously and it shows when he gets his opportunities.”

Dallas Comeau's goal gave the Storm a 1-0 lead after a period. Bonnyville tied it at 1-1 at 6:36 of the second and then at 15:55 Parker Smyth, on the powerplay, got the winner.

“The message today was nothing less than two points – a 1/1 split wasn't going to cut it,” said Keillor. “I really like what I saw tactically, especially our play without the puck.

“We know we can score, but we also want to be known for being hard to score against.”

The Storm remain in fourth place in the North Division with 23 points and a 10-5-3 record, just two back of the third place Spruce Grove Saints and only four behind the Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Whitecourt Wolverines, who are tied for first with 27.

Next action is Friday when the Storm host the Canmore Eagles.