Off-season changes have been made, the final roster is finalized and the Grande Prairie Storm are set to kick off their 2013/2014 Alberta Junior Hockey League season tomorrow night against the Drayton Valley Thunder.
After posting a 2-3 pre-season record and having just less than a week to finalize this season’s roster, new bench boss Matt Hughes says roster cuts weren’t easy.
“It’s a roster that is dotted with a lot of different age groups. We got four 17 year-olds on the roster, we’ve got some older guys – we got a team that competes. We kind of said that from game one. We want a group of guys that are going to compete for a spot everyday and earn their spot everyday and we got that right now.”
Hughes says an interesting storyline for this season will be the team’s defence, which will feature several returning players.
“It’s going to be interesting because we have eight Junior A defencemen and they’re going to be competing for spots in the line-up every night and we’re only going to dress six. So that’s kind of been an interesting dynamic throughout the week so far. Our group back there is solid, they can move the puck, it can be physical – we’re pretty excited about that group.”
In the goal scoring department, Hughes says the team will roll four competitive lines and each player will be asked to contribute.
Returning in net is last year’s AJHL Goalie of the Year in Nick Kulmanovsky, who will be relied on for a strong follow-up season. Hughes says the team’s back-up goaltender will be Joakim Jutras. Jutras, a 19 year-old, played for the Sherbrooke (Quebec) College AAA Cougars last season.
“He’s very similar to Nick. He’s a smaller guy. He plays the puck real well, he’s extremely fast in the net and he stays square to the puck. He was good in pre-season, “ Hughes said.
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