Fort McMurray, AB (April 17, 2021) – The Fort McMurray Oil Barons and Grande Prairie Storm met Friday night and Saturday afternoon at Centerfire Place for the first time since October to embark on a four-game cohort series.
The two teams split the games and will follow the same schedule next weekend in Grande Prairie.
On Friday night, Paycen Bjorklund scored in the fourth round of the shootout to propel the Storm to a 3-2 win over the Oil Barons.
The Storm’s Cooper Connell opened the game’s scoring with a wrist shot from the slot at 15:09 on the powerplay. However, the lead would be short lived as Michael Hodge continued the hot hand scoring a powerplay goal in the opening minutes of the second period to make the game 1-1.
Hassan Akl would then extend the lead to 2-1 about six minutes later, completing a passing play with his linemates Hunter Lamb and Michael Hodge.
Ethan Strang would again tie the game for the Storm at 2-2 before the end of the second period.
While the third period and overtime did not see any goals, both teams had their chances with every inch of ice contested in what felt like a playoff-like game.
The goaltenders of Josh Nadler and Joe Howe stood tall when tested in the game’s final 25 minutes, giving their teams a chance to win the game. In total, Nadler made 31 saves to earn a tie, while Howe made 34 saves in the win.
Despite a close checking game on Friday night, Saturday afternoon’s game was a different story.
The Storm opened the scoring for the second consecutive game when Cooper Connell found Max Giangualano to beat Nadler.
Despite giving up the first goal, the Oil Barons responded offensively before the end of the period. Rookie Ryder Matter scored his third AJHL goal since the league returned to play at 6:26 of the first period, while Nickolas de Beurs scored of the powerplay at 12:15.
With the Oil Barons holding a 2-1 lead going into the second period, the team would continue to score. Hunter Lamb would score two in the period, while Nickolas de Beurs scored his second of the game, and Michael Hodge scored another giving the Oil Barons a commanding 5-2 lead after 40 minutes of play.
In the third period, Lukas Konashuk drew the Storm within two goals at 5:23. However, Tristan Kimmen buried his fourth goal of the season at 19:01 beating Devin Chapman with a shot to seal a 7-3 win for the Oil Barons.
The teams will continue their series next weekend (April 23 and 24) in Grande Prairie. You can catch all of the action on Country 93.3 and HockeyTV.