The Grande Prairie Storm scored two second-period goals and managed to hang on for a 3-1 win over the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in Alberta Junior Hockey League action at Revolution Place on Saturday night.
“We played a good 60 minutes (on Saturday),” Storm assistant coach Sam Waterfield said. “After the conversations of the last 24 hours, (the players) were ready to play. They showed up and did their jobs.”
Carter Myrol and Cole Broadhurst propelled the Storm to a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes of play, as the club collected its sixth win of the season, while handing the Oil Barons their first regulation loss in 16 games played.
“On Friday, especially in the second and third (period), we mismanaged the puck a little bit and gave them some odd-man rushes,” Waterfield said. “But on Saturday, we were able to play good defensively and limit their opportunities.”
The Storm (6-7-1) held the Oil Barons (12-1-3) to just three shots in the third period and 15 for the entire game. The Storm managed 23 shots on the opposition’s net.
Nathanial Bierd iced the victory with an empty-net goal at 19:52. The goal was Bierd’s third of the regular season, to go along with four assists in a dozen regular-season games played for the Calgary resident.
As Waterfield referenced on two previous occasions, less than a day earlier the teams were embroiled in a one-goal game after 40 minutes of play, the visitors scoring three consecutive goals for a 6-2 win in the series opener.
Eradicating a tough third-period performance the night previous was part of the discussion during a team meeting before game two.
“I thought we focused on (improving our third-period play) in our talk before the game,” Waterfield said.
Joe Howe picked up the win for the Storm, stopping 14 shots. Oil Barons goalie Joshua Nadler turned aside 21 pucks in the loss.
The Oil Barons opened the scoring with a first period power-play goal when a wayward shot from the left point pinballed off Hunter Lamb in the low slot and bounced directly to Hassan Akl, who calmly beat Howe upstairs to the glove side at 19:48.
The Storm tied the game at 1-1 when Myrol scored at 3:53 of the second period, his shot from near the goal line managing to squeeze by Nadler. Broadhurst gave the Storm a 2-1 lead at 12:02, the big winger parking his frame at the top of the crease before collecting a rebound and lofting the puck over the Nadler’s left shoulder.
There was a robust energy about the middle stanza as both teams–playing their fourth consecutive game against each other–started to display bouts of random nastiness, fiery emotion and competitive hate for each other.
Incidents involving roughing after the whistle were commonplace, accompanied by a few questionable hits both ways, plenty of stick work and smack talk, topped off by a robust fight between Storm forward Max Giangualano and Oil Barons defenceman Max Struss at 6:41 of the period.
Both players were ejected from the game.
It was a highly competitive and physical period for the home side, taking a hard-earned lead into the final period after lessons learned from the night before.
“I don’t think it was a message of anything specific in the second period,” Waterfield said.” On Friday, we played a good first (period) and took our foot off the gas in the second and they were able to take the lead. We stayed with the game plan and were able to do more of that in the second and that led to success.”
After blanking the Oil Barons on five man-advantage chances Friday night, the Storm allowed one goal in seven opportunities on Saturday . The Storm scored once in five power-play opportunities on Friday night and missed on six chances in game two.
If all goes well with COVID-19 testing this week, the club is expected to play at home this coming weekend but the competition was not known as of publishing time.