Mar. 03, 2020

Besides fortuitous, what do you call a playoff game where an affiliate player, playing in is his first AAA midget game, gets the decisive goal?

Mason Kyllo scored the game-winning goal early in the second period as the Grande Peace Athletic Club AAA Ernie's Sports Midget Storm picked up a 4-2 win over the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers at the Coca-Cola Centre on Monday night.

“It’s a playoff game, that’s what you need,” Storm Head Coach Chris Schmidt said. “Our top guys—the guys who led us in scoring (during the regular season)—did a very good job on Monday but, oftentimes, the difference is the secondary scoring.”

Speaking of secondary scoring, there was plenty of if for the home side as forward Codie Saunders scored back-to-back goals, giving the Storm a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of play.

Saunders scored six goals and added three assists in 29 skates during the regular season.

“The guys that get the most points can’t always win the game,” Schmidt said. “I think it’s great (and) that’s what it takes to win.”

Dayne Tews scored the fourth goal, an insurance marker late in the third period. McCoy Bidewell was solid in the cage, turning aside 32 shots for his second win of the division semifinal.

The Storm lead the best-of-five series two games to one with game four set for Wednesday night in Fort Saskatchewan. Puck drop is 6:15 p.m.

The winner

Kyllo’s winner came at 16:41 of the second period as Landon Hedges and Tye Evans assisted on the play.

Kyllo hung around the slot and was rewarded for his patience, slamming the puck passed Rangers goalie Beckett Langkow, who dove from left to right, the puck zinging high into the wide-open net, giving the Storm a 3-0 lead at the time.

“It was good play by Hedges to keep the puck in and get it to Evans, who got the puck on net,” Kyllo said. “The rebound popped right back out to me and I put it in the back of the net.”

Crunch time

Even though Kyllo didn’t play a regular-season game with this particular Storm outfit, Schmidt didn’t seem to have a problem putting the winger in high leverage situations. He was on the ice during the third, the Storm nursing a 3-2 lead as the Rangers pressed for an equalizer.

“There are certain times during a game where you need a certain player to do a certain thing,” Schmidt said. “With his skill set, (that’s what I needed). He’s a good guy to put in there. He’s earned some confidence (from) the coaching staff just because he’s come in and made the right plays, typically, at the right time. That’s what you draw on, who’s been making the plays consistently, you tend to put him out in those situations where you need that play done. That’s the mindset there.”

The rookie seemed very appreciative of the minutes Schmidt dished out with prudent regularity.

“It felt good to be involved in the game,” Kyllo said.

Apparently, the 16-year-old possesses the right qualities in making plays from areas of the ice not recommended for the faint of heart.

“(He’s got a) big body and makes good plays along the wall and (has) composure within that area of the rink, which isn’t always easy,” Schmidt said. “Plays have to be made there and it’s an important part of the rink. (You need) guys to navigate that area of the rink effectively to help win games.”

The Storm had won the series opener 5-4 in Grande Prairie on Thursday before losing 4-3 in Game 2 in Fort Saskatchewan on Saturday.

If the Storm don't take the series in four games, a fifth game goes Friday at 5:15 p.m. in the Coke Can. Winner of the series takes on the Dodge Division regular season champion St. Albert Raiders in the division final. The Raiders knocked off Edmonton CAC in three straight games in the other best-of-five division semifinal.

Two other GPAC midget teams are involved in playoff action this week.

The Boston Pizza Storm of the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League are in Sherwood Park for a 12-team playoff tournament.

They are in the A Pool and play Edmonton SSAC Bulldogs at 6 p.m. Thursday; the Edmonton KC Centennials at 9:15 a.m. and Edmonton CAC United Cycle at 3:30 p.m. on Friday.

BP finished 12th in the 12-team league with four wins, 26 losses and seven ties.

The Peaceland Directional Drilling Storm are in Peace River for their Northern Alberta divisional championship.

They take on the Fort McMurray Barons on Thursday at 5 p.m.; the Whitecourt Wolverines on Friday at 12:30 p.m.; and the Peace River Royals Saturday at 10:30 a.m.

PDD finished in third place in their division after the regular season with 14 wins, 15 losses and two ties.

The season is over for the GPAC bantam teams.

The Golden Arrow Storm of the Alberta Bantam Hockey League had a great regular season finishing in second place in the division, but were upset in the first round of a divisional playoff.

They had opened the best-of-three with a comeback 6-5 win over the Leduc Oil Kings last Tuesday at home and then fell to them 5-2 on Wednesday in Leduc.

It was a heartbreaker on Friday when GA dropped a 2-1 overtime decision at home to end their ABHL season.

Leduc will play the Lloydminster Bobcats in the division final.

The Higson Dental Group Storm made it to the Black Division final in the Edmonton Rural Bantam AA Hockey League losing 4-2 to the Whitecourt Wolverines, who advanced to the Black-White Division final against the Lakeland Panthers.

Higson had started the playoff tournament at the Clairmont County Sportsplex with a 12-3 win over the Peace River Sabres on Thursday; downed the Grande Prairie Dreger Racing Team Storm 4-2 on Friday; and lost 8-2 to Whitecourt and won 3-2 in double overtime over the Fort McMurray Barons on Saturday.

Dereger had opened Thursday with a 7-3 loss to Whitecourt and 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Barons and lost 3-2 to Peace River on Friday.

- With files from Daily Herald-Tribune


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