Remember the television show ‘Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?
Right now the Grande Prairie Storm are playing: ‘Where in the world is their consistency and timely goaltending?’
The Storm were defeated 5-2 on Saturday and then 6-3 on Sunday against the Whitecourt Wolverines at the Canada Games Arena.
“It’s kind of turning into we’re a win one, lose one club right now and we’re not finding a way to consistently put our best on the ice,”said Storm coach Matt Hughes, after Sunday’s loss.
“We’re not going to come out on the good side on the weekends when we’re giving up that many goals.”
On Saturday, the Wolverines scored three, second period goals enroute to a 5-2 victory. Storm forwards Jade McMullen and Stephen Doane (powerplay goal) each had scored in the third frame.
It was a tough outing for Storm goaltender Nick Kulmanovksy, who allowed four goals and was pulled in favour of Jacob Suppes.
Storm fans certainly got their money’s worth on Sunday afternoon.
In the first frame, the Wolverines scored three goals on seven shots and quickly chased Suppes back to the bench. Kulmanovsky took over between the pipes and allowed two goals on 29 shots.
With a 3-1 Wolverines lead heading into the third period, Chase Thudium and Blake Bosch scored 24 seconds apart to tie the game at 3-3.
Then, less than five minutes later, the Wolverines scored two goals, 18 seconds apart, including one from former Grande Prairie Storm forward Sam Lawson, to take a 5-3 lead.
Colten Mayor added a late insurance marker to seal the victory.
Safe to say that the Storm need timely saves?
“For sure. You need some timely saves from your goalies, you need your D to stand up, you need your forwards to be back so that there are not odd man rushes. It’s a team thing, it’s not a one position thing. It’s about playing the game better,” said Hughes.
“I’ll tell you what, I really liked our intensity and our jam in our start tonight (Sunday) but then we made a couple of mistakes in our end and bang-bang it’s 2-0. That’s how it’s gone for us this year. I can’t count or begin to think how many games we’ve had where we have one, two, three good shifts and then, bang, a mistake, it ends up in the back of our net. For us, that’s our world right now and that’s something that we’ve got to fix.”
The Storm now sit with a 15-18-2 record and riding two-game losing skid.
They’re fourth place in the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s North Division and only one point ahead of the Bonnyville Pontiacs.
Both wins allowed the Wolverines to cover some ground in the north division. They’re now tied with the Lloydminster Bobcats for third in the division.
Despite both losses, the team’s powerplay is starting to click.
The Storm have scored a powerplay goal in each of their last three games.
This weekend, the Storm went 3-13 on the powerplay and killed off all eight of their penalty kills.
“We’re just starting to execute. It’s not anything different that we’ve shown them, it’s just we’re executing what we’re telling them to execute,” said Hughes, of the man advantage.
The Storm were without the services of captain Sasha Larocque for both games. He’s still day-to-day with a lower body injury.
Storm forward Jade McMullen was held out of Sunday’s game with a concussion after hitting his head along the boards in Saturday’s game. No timetable is set for his return.
The Storm round out their five-game homestand against the Brooks Bandits on Dec. 13 and Okotoks Oilers on Dec. 14.
“We got four days of practice this week. For us, it’s just about working on our game and getting better every day. You can’t dwell on what happened this weekend. We got to get ready for Brooks on Friday,” said Hughes.
“We know what type of team they are. They’re a quick team, they move the puck well and they’re a team that if you give them time and space, they’re going to make plays – very similar to Whitecourt. You got to be good at defending the rush, you’ve got to be good in the offensive zone and you’ve got to be good on special teams.”
Game time for both games is 7:30 p.m. at the Canada Games Arena.