By GORDON ANDERSON
While three wins to start off the year, doesn’t a season make, it’s not bad, either.
The Grande Peace Athletic Club AAA Midget Storm extended their winning streak to three games with a 4-3 win over the Knights of Columbus Pats in Alberta Midget
League (AMHL) action at the Coca-Cola Centre on Saturday afternoon.
First off, the Pats were a tenacious opponent. They never stopped working—despite getting out-chanced in the neighbourhood of two-to-one—and trailing by two goals on a pair of occasions. The Storm held a 3-1 lead in the second and a 4-2 lead in the third.
Storm Head Coach Chris Schmidt lauded the visitors and their effort, seeming to admit there probably won’t be too many easy afternoon with one-sided affairs, offered up as the main dish on the hockey menu.
“We were fortunate to get the two points,” Schmidt said. “It’s a tough league and it’s always a tough battle. We had a lot of good chances that we let slip by and didn’t capitalize on. (The Pats) are in this league and they’re good.”
Hudson Foley scored notched a brace of goals while Tye Evans and Landon Hedges picked up the other. McCoy Bidewell stopped 23 shots for his second win of the young season.
The Storm will be in southern Alberta next weekend for games against the Calgary Royals and the Airdrie Bisons.
Schmidt is your typical low-key coach when it comes to winning and losing, preferring the long-term view, a steady state mentality. Surely he’s pleased with three one-goal wins, but he knows there’s a ways to go for a team with design on a AMHL title.
“There’s work to do until the last game of the year,” Schmidt said. ‘It’s a tough league, pretty good parity and (there are) some good teams down south we’ll have to play. We’ll just keep getting better and that’s why we come for Tuesday practice, prepared to work.”
Forward Nolan Flint knows tedious labour is ahead but he expects big things from a club that has 13 returnees on a roster of 20 players.
”It’s the same (expectations) or even bigger,” Flint said. “We want to go further and go for it all and we think we’ve got the team to do it this year. We’re all close, from the start we’ve all clicked and we all love each other. It’s good, good in the room.”
Last year, the club finished third in the north during the regular season but lost in the second round of the AMHL playoffs, dropping three consecutive games to the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers.
The Flint strikes
Flint continues to pick up points, adding two assists in Saturday’s win. In three games, the power forward has three goals and three assists. He’s tied for fifth in league scoring, four points behind Heath Armstrong of the Calgary Buffalos, who leads the AMHL with three goals and seven assists in four games played.
“I just want to keep it going and I’m getting bounces to go my way, it feels good,” Flint said, while noting he’s playing on a line with Dayne Tews and Ty Toews. “We feed off each other a lot. We have good chemistry and it’s fun (to play with them).”
“When he uses his size, (he’s effective),” Schmidt said of Flint’s strength in the O-zone. “He’s long, fast when he gets going. If he keeps the puck away from defenders, his long reach is an asset to him.”
The Storm totaled up a eight minors, a pair of four-minute minors and a 10-minute misconduct. The home side surrendered one power-play goal after a four-minute minor to Jayden Watson for a check to the head with 4:54 left in the game.
Both teams totaled up 54 minutes in penalties.
“It’s discipline. It’s an emotional game and you want to be invested in it, as a player, but you have to find the line and play below it,” Schmidt said, while noting he will address it with his club.
OTHER GPAC ACTION
Two other GPAC midget teams were in action on the weekend.
The Peace Directional Drilling Storm of the Northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League defeated the Fort McMurray Barons 4-3 on Friday and are third in the North Division with a 3-1-1 record.
They take off to play the Vikings in Camrose on Saturday and then battle Edmonton MLAC in the provincial capital on Sunday.
Boston Pizza Storm of the Alberta Minor Midget AAA Hockey League garnered a point in two games at home on the weekend tying the Leduc Oil Kings 3-3 on Saturday and losing 4-3 on Sunday.
BP plays SSAC in Edmonton on Saturday and Spruce Grove on the road Sunday.
Access Dental Storm played their first-ever games in the Rural & Edmonton 15AA Hockey League losing on the road - to the Central Panthers 8-2 on Saturday and the Red Deer Chiefs 8-3 on Sunday.
Access visits Edmonton CAC Saturday and the Camrose Vikings on Sunday.
The GPAC Storm of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League find themselves in first place in the Charger Division after weekend play.
They defeated the Okotoks Oilers twice - 6-1 on Saturday and 9-1 on Sunday and find themselves atop the division with 11 points on four wins and three ties.
They will hit the road to, hopefully, improve on that record with a game in Spruce Grove on Saturday and another in Leduc on Sunday.
GPAC has two teams in the Edmonton Rural Bantam AA Hockey League - Dreger Racing Team Storm and the Higson Dental Group Storm.
Dreger traveled to Fort Mac winning 7-3 on Saturday to the Barons and losing 6-1 on Sunday.
They are in fifth in the Black Division with a 1-4-0 record and host Fort Mac Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Strathcona at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Chris McMillan Rink in Clairmont.
Higson defeated Peace River Sabres 5-2 on Saturday and fell 7-1 to the Lakeland Panthers on Sunday.
Higson, second in the Black Division with a 2-1-0 record, are in Wainwright and Camrose this coming weekend.