What a Finish!

It was the game of the year! It was the goal of the year!

Gus Correale scoring on an absolutely beautiful move in overtime, as the Grande Prairie Storm knocked off the Whitecourt Wolverines 5-4 Friday night at the Canada Games Arena. Correale taking the feed at centre ice from Mike Forsyth, then cleanly cutting around a Wolverines defenceman, before slipping the puck through the legs of goalie Chris Drott to win it at 3:57 of the extra period.

It was the second straight overtime win for Grande Prairie over Whitecourt, although the Storm had a nine day layoff between games. If the 3-2 OT win on October 23rd was a nine out of ten for excitement, then this victory was a solid ten.

Perhaps the best way to describe it was a roller coaster ride, especially in the third period, when each team had the lead for a period of time. Coach Blaine Bablitz was happy with the club's overall effort, even though he felt they spent too much time killing penalties. In fact, the penalty killing unit kept the Storm in the game in the second period when Sam Lawson was inexplicably given a minor, major and misconduct, while the Wolverines player who started the fight somehow escaped without a single penalty.

“That was a key time in the game and our penalty killers did a wonderful job in limiting Whitecourt to just one goal on a seven-minute powerplay. If they had of scored a couple goals to go up 4-2 at that time, it may have been tough to come back.”

The clubs split four goals between them in the first period—including Dylan Thudium's first of the year—before that powerplay goal by the Wolverines in the second gave them a 3-2 advantage heading into the final frame.

That only served to set the table for a wild third period, in which the Storm bounced back to take the lead, only to surrender it and head to overtime. Sam Lawson's second of the game, with the Storm on a two-man advantage, tied things up. Jade McMullen was then credited with the go-ahead marker, when a Whitecourt player inadvertantly knocked the puck into his own net at 16:51 of the period. However, just as the home fans were starting to think a regulation time win was in the cards, Mathieu Gagnon of the Wolverines knotted things up with under a minute and a half to play. That, of course, only served to set the scene for Correale's overtime heroics.

The Storm don't get any time, though, to savour their win. They face these same Wolverines Saturday night in Whitecourt. Coach Bablitz feels their best shot to sweep the home-and-home is to cut down on the parade to the sin bin.

“Five on five, I like the way we play against them. Most of the time, we controlled the flow of play. Whitecourt has too much firepower to continually give their powerplay that much ice time.”

The Storm, who have played fewer games than any other AJHL squad, are now 10-5-2 on the year. With 22 points, they stand fifth in the North Division standings. However, they are only six points behind first place Whitecourt and enjoy three games in hand on the Wolverines.

-Story supplied by Don Whiteford of www.peacecountrysports.com.