By Logan Clow
When the Grande Prairie Storm hit the ice Wednesday at home against the Whitecourt Wolverines, expect there to be some new faces in the line-up.
With 17 games remaining in the regular season, Storm head coach and GM Matt Keillor said he anticipates trade talks to heat up on Monday before Tuesday’s Canadian Junior Hockey League trade deadline.
Keillor said to aid in solidifying a playoff spot down the stretch, he’s searching for scoring depth and speed.
“Going into the deadline here, we’d like to hopefully add a piece that can provide some scoring depth for us. That’s one thing we feel is missing, so we’d like to focus on that,” he said.
“(With) a lot of those (top) teams is the pace in which they play and the speed in which the players play. It’s another thing we’d like to address and get faster for sure. (Scoring depth and speed) are probably our two biggest needs right now.”
Upgrading on the blueline will also be an area Keillor expects to look at. The Storm have allowed 181 goals against, which is second-most in the AJHL.
Storm host Wolverines Wednesday
Defence will be key for the Storm on Wednesday against the highest scoring team in the AJHL.
The Wolverines, who are 27-9-4 this season and ranked second overall in the AJHL, have outscored the Storm a combined 27-8 in their previous five meetings.
Keillor said a key for the Storm in preventing the Wolverines from moving to 6-0 in their season series, is limiting the Wolverines’ puck possession.
“You have to take away time and space,” he said.
“The best way to play defence is to play with the puck. You don’t want to give it away. You don’t want to play a dump and chase game with those guys where they’ll just transition quick and go back on the attack. You want to attack the blueline with possession and good puck support…”
A key line for the Storm of late has the play of forwards Walker Cote, Cruz Cote and Landon Vollman up front. Keillor said the Peace Region trio have been not only able to add grit, but have injected some energy in the line-up.
“I’ve really liked their energy and they give a full, honest effort every time they’re on the ice and it’s contagious. Whenever we think we need a shift where we need to get the energy back up on the bench, those three provide it every time. It’s one of those things that as a coach, it’s really nice to have that at your disposal. They’re three really solid kids – character kids too – that want to play hard every night..,” said Keillor.