The Drayton Valley Thunder came into Friday night's contest with something to prove to their fans. After a dismal start, head coach Mike Mueller made some big moves prior to the game. The moves saw forward Brendan McKay and defenseman Chandler Irvin get shipped off to Dauphin, Manitoba, meanwhile in two separate moves, Mueller sent Anthony Kapelke and Cole Dunphy to Sherwood Park and OCN Blizzard respectively. The shakeup brought wide eyes to the boys and they came out hard against the visiting Grande Prairie Storm.
The first period was a good back and forth affair, with both teams getting shots on net and creating scoring chances, but it was the Storm who got on the board first with a goal from Nathyn Mortlock. But with only 12 seconds left in the first period the Thunder tied it on a late power play with an unassisted goal by veteran Dallen Hall. Heading into the break the shots were 14-10 Storm.
The second brought grit, determination and some flashes of brilliance out of both teams, eager to score the go ahead goal. There was not much action throughout the period, but newcomers Nathan Deyell and Connor Vermuelen had played well so far through 20 minutes. Storm captain Sasha Larocque got the Storm the lead on a late power play after a Luke Orysiuk penalty. The hulking defenceman went crossbar down on netminder Marc-Olivier Daigle, giving the Storm the edge.
The third period was the most exciting period of hockey Thunder fans have been treated to all season so far. The Storm got out to an early 3-1 lead however on another power play 5 minutes into the frame. But momentum started to change after the Thunder got a penalty shot midway in the period. Brandon Long was awarded a penalty shot and was able to deke a backhand top shelf to put the Thunder within one. The boys never let up and ended up outshooting the Storm 14-6 in the period. It was a great individual effort by Tanner Clarkson that brought the boys even with under 2 minutes remaining. Clarkson drove the net hard and blew past Larocque to out wait goaltender Kulmanovsky to tie it, Mathieu Lapointe and Nathan Smith got the assists.
Overtime was a defensive chess game, even though it was 3 on 3 both teams did not want to end the game early. There was only 3 shots in the extra frame and the Thunder were still knotted at 3-3. The Thunder have been successful in the shootout once already this season. The boys' first win of the season was in a shootout against the Camrose Kodiaks. A total of 6 shooters went, with Daigle stopping each one with ease. But once again it was Brandon Long with the magical deke, a backhand top shelf, to ice it for the Thunder.
The boys will have two more home game this week before heading out on the road for 2. The next home game is tomorrow October 15th, let's hope the visiting Spruce Grove Saints had a little too much turkey for Thanksgiving and can look to make the streak to 2 games. The Saints however are coming off a overtime win against the powerhouse Fort McMurray team. Game time is 7:30pm at the Omniplex.