There are trips teams look forward to . . . and then there are the other ones.
For pretty much every team in the Alberta Junior Hockey League a road swing at the other end of the province and three games in three days is not at the top of the wish list.
And when you have to do it missing year head coach/general manager and three starting players it makes it all a little more cumbersome.
So, it was not unexpected that the Grande Prairie Storm rolled into Canmore to take on the Eagles Friday and rolled out after suffering a 5-2 loss.
And, as often happens on these lengthy ventures, the “bus legs” may have played a role early on.
Canmore took a 3-0 lead in the first period scoring the trio of tallies all before the eigh- minute mark of the opening frame.
It was pretty much even up after that, but the damage had been done.
The Eagles led 3-1 after 20 minutes and 5-2 heading into the third.
Cruz Cote, Walker Cote and Landon Vollman are not on the road trip. The veteran linemates were all suspended for what the AJHL called a “staged” set of fights in Bonnyville against the Pontiacs two weeks ago.
The Cote brothers were suspended for five games and Vollman for six following a melee early in the third period.
The AJ also suspended head coach/GM Matt Keillor for three games for what it felt was his involvement in the event. Assistant coach Dennis Rix, in an interview with the Daily Herald-Tribune, said the coaching staff did not set up the fights, knew nothing about it beforehand and said that is not the way he and Keillor coach.
Vollman got the extra game because it was his fifth fighting major of the season.
Keillor will return for the third game of the road trip in Okotoks against the Oilers on Sunday while the Cote brothers will be out of the lineup until the second game of a two-game home stand against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons Feb. 10-11 and Vollman won't see any game action until the Storm play the Thunder in Drayton Valley on Feb. 16.
On Friday team scoring leader Michael Clarke (now with 50 points on 25 goals and 25 assists) and Jason Wenzel scored the other. Braden Saretsky had two and Cole Noble, Travis Verveda and Coy Prevost got the Canmore tallies.
Arik Weersink was in net for the Storm facing 32 shots while the Storm fired 33 at Ryan Bontorin at the other end.
The Storm continue to hold onto sixth place in the North Divison with 30 points while the Drayton Valley Thunder (7-2 losers to the Pontiacs Friday) have 28 and the Lloydminster Bobcats (4-2 winners over the Sherwood Park Crusaders Friday) have 21.
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