By GORDON ANDERSON
The Grande Peace Athletic Club Minor Midget Storm dropped a 4-3 game to the Leduc Oil Kings in Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League (AMMHL) action at the Coca-Cola Centre on Sunday morning.
The Storm (0-4-2) had a chance to tie the game in the final five seconds of the game when Trey Stephenson found himself alone on the left side of the net but whiffed on the cross-ice pass and banged the puck off the end boards. After missing the open net, Stephenson cast a gaze into the rafters and shook his head, the universal sign for “whoops.”
After the glorious chance went awry, the club had a offensive zone faceoff with five seconds left but couldn’t muster another shot on goal and skated away with their first one-goal loss of the season.
Brody West scored a pair of goals for the Storm while Rhys Doyle scored the other goal. Connor Stojan got the start and allowed four goals on 34 shots.
The Storm picked up their second point of the season on Saturday, a 3-3 tie with the Oil Kings.
“I thought the last two Sunday’s we, kind of, really didn’t show up to play,” Storm Head Coach Brett Stephenson said. “Sunday’s effort was way better and we’ll build on that. I was very happy with our effort and execution, we did a lot of things right. We still have lots of things to work on but as far as our players are concerned, they were banged up and had some injuries (but the) guys battled through and never quit and that’s all we can ask.”
As Stephenson mentioned, the previous two Sunday’s the Storm dropped two one-sided games, losing 9-1 to the Sherwood Park Squires and suffering a 7-1 setback to the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers.
The coaching staff—made up of Paul Therrien and Brent Radke—feel they have a different mandate than the AAA midget Storm club. The AAA team is built to win games, but Stephenson sees his club as a place to get them ready for the next level. However, losing still grinds away at the psyche, make no mistake about that.
“It’s a developmental league and we’re trying to get these guys ready for the next year with midget AA or midget AAA and that’s the whole key,” Stephenson said, while noting “the losses are tough.” “The bench stays positive and we never quit. So, we only got one point out of four (on the weekend) but it’s not about the points, it’s about the effort, the execution and the development.”
Not far off
Looking at the AMMHL standings, the club has two points from six games but a couple of wins next weekend in Edmonton will put the Storm in the heart of the mid-table battle.
In talking about a win, it’s not about “if.” It’s about “when.”
“Defensively, we need to make sure we’re real tight and make sure we don’t let games get away from us,” Stephenson said. “Offensively, we might not have a whole bunch of chances so we have to bear down and work on those things in practice like finishing skills. We’ll get there. The guys are doing great, they’re supporting each other and working hard. That’s all you can ask for.”
Digging for numbers
Prior to Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the Leduc Oil Kings, the Grande Peace Athletic Club Minor Midget Storm probably didn’t much care for the Sabbath.
In the previous two Sunday’s, the club dropped a brace of one-sided games, losing 9-1 to the Sherwood Park Squires on Sept. 29 and suffering a 7-1 setback to the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers on Oct. 6.
The two blowouts brought the goals for and goals against numbers way out of whack.
Taking a cursory glance on the AMMHL website, it would be simple to make conclusions about the club that might be patently false, without a further dive into those numbers. It’s too easy to fall back on a lazy narrative here.
The club has surrendered 30 goals in six games but in four of those games—two losses and two ties—they allowed just 14 goals, with one of them an empty-net goal in a 4-2 home loss to the Rangers on Oct.6.
Storm Head Coach Brett Stephenson was asked where is this team, exactly?
“You talk about competitiveness and that’s what we want,” Stephenson said. “You take away those two games, we’re right there. We were four minutes away from a win in our first game in St. Albert, a minute away from a tie in Fort Saskatchewan and right to the end on Sunday. We do no have a lot of skill, and that’s OK to admit and it’s OK (because) we’ll keep working on that. As long as the effort is there, along with the compete and the battle, you can accept what comes your way.”