After the Strathmore Storm collapsed in the third period of their opening Midget A Provincial matchup, they regrouped and powered their way to the silver medal on home ice last weekend.
The Storm trailed the Seera Icemen 3-2 entering the third period of their opening game, when the wheels fell off. They went on to lose 7-2.
Needing to win to reach the semis, the Storm battled adversity, finishing round robin play 3-1.
In the final, it was a rematch against the Icemen, but once again, the Storm couldn’t find the edge they needed, losing 5-2 March 26 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“The boys were really excited to be playing in front of their home crowd all weekend,” said Storm head coach Doug Raycroft. “Having played six games in four days made it tough, but at the end of the day, it’s hard to beat any team when you are in the penalty box as much as we were.”
As much as Raycroft doesn’t want to lean on the officiating as an excuse, there was an obvious imbalance in the calls in the final. The Icemen received one minor penalty to the Storm’s 35 minutes in the sin bin.
Brian Butland Jr. cut the Icemen’s 2-0 lead in half at the 8:14 mark of the first period on a feed from Will Kathol and Parker Keer.
The Storm was behind the eight ball in the second, spending all but two minutes of the frame in the penalty box.
Ryan Leeper pulled the Storm within two in the third, when he scored at the 4:51 mark from Brandon Pederson.
“Obviously, at the time, it was a pretty defeating loss. We lost the opportunity that we fought so hard for all year,” said Storm captain Cort Armstrong. “Looking back now, it feels like a win. It was great to play these games at home, in front of the biggest crowds that we have seen all season. “
Playing so much of the final on the penalty kill, the Storm’s bench was shortened drastically after the semifinals against the Crowfoot Coyotes, when Chase Clayton was driven into the boards, snapping his ankle.
The Storm still hung on to the 8-2 win, but their lineup just wasn’t the same without Clayton.
“We really fought hard all weekend,” said Raycroft. “The boys believed that we could pull this off, it just sucks in the end coming so close and not winning.”
The Storm wrapped up their round robin play with wins over the Lomond Lakers (9-2) March 23, Red Deer Kings Energy Chiefs (3-2) March 24 and Vermilion Credit Union Tigers (7-3) March 25.
Jayden Hendricks finished with six goals and four assists, while Butland Jr. recorded five goals and five assists, tying for second in tournament scoring.
“We came a long way this season winning our league and making it this far in provincials,” said Raycroft. “I’m really proud of these guys and the way they handled themselves this season.”