Saturday, December 17, 2016

By Lee Samuels

Las Vegas –  It was tricky, a 3 on 3 player overtime to decide who wins – the WSHL Las Vegas Storm or the WSHL Vancouver Rangers

At the bench Las Vegas coach Gabe Gauthier laid down the blueprint: Get possession of the puck, drive towards the net, shoot on goal.

Which is why Teddy Astrom of Las Vegas – when he got the puck – went down the left side, angled towards the net and cut loose with a backhand shot which sent the puck on a jet-like blast underneath the goalie’s arm on the blocker side. It was quick, it was explosive and the reason why the Las Vegas out-gutted Vancouver 4-3 before a large crowd to open the WSHL Western States Shootout on Saturday at the Las Vegas Ice Center.

“Huge win,” said Gauthier afterwards. “We haven’t done that well at the WSHL Shootout tournament and it’s always good to win the first game.”

Assistant coach Evan Zucker, who scored some mighty big goals himself as a player, said the Vancouver goalie was “loose down low” which is why the coaches asked their goal scorers to go right to the net and fire away in overtime.

When the game was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation Gauthier sent out his three players – Teddy Astrom, Amandus Laukkanen and defenseman Nick Peck who had played as awesome game.

The ironry of all of this was that Teddy and Amandus a few weeks ago were playing for the Butte Cobras.  Gauthier got a text from the Butte team saying both were available for a player who Gauthier really liked – goal scorer Taylor Karr.  Gauthier at last made the deal and Las Vegas, which is getting outstanding play defensively and in the net with new goalie Spencer Kozlowski, has seen rapid improvement in the win department. The Storm is on a strong run, is now 12-11-1 overall and in third place in the WSHL’s West Division

The line of Jean-Christophe Lachapelle, Sam Sykes and Alex Roth scored the three Las Vegas goals in regulation.

Jake McKenna, a top Las Vegas defenseman, Nick Peck and Joey Allegrini – who was always in the way of attacking Vancouver forwards – had awesome games. It was Peck’s best game this season. He is a strong, powerful d-man.

But it was Teddy Astrom, from Sundsvall, Sweden, who drove in and won the game spectaculary with a backhand OT shot.

From the Blue Line – Las Vegas is very, very strong in the net with Spencer Kozlowski who was acquired in a deal with the WSHL Valencia Flyers….AAA callup Aiden McNabb was very strong in his play. “I played in five Storm games last season which was the limit for my age. This was the first Storm game this year for me.” ….Las Vegas broke to a two goal lead when Vancouver scored on a freaky long-range deflected shot to make it a 2-1 game….WSHL commisioner Ron White was at the game….There were strings of red, blue and green holiday lights overhead along with silver, blue sparkly Stars hung with care in the lobby area of the Ice Center…Long lines to get ring coffee and more good stuff at the Ice Center’s award-winning Snack Bar…

Next game: Sunday 10 am at the SoBe Ice Arena on North Rancho Drive. Las Vegas takes on a touring all-star team from Canada which was added to the field of teams. And, yes, this game will count in the WSHL standings.

Las Vegas Storm scoring

LV – Jean-Christophe Lachapelle (9th goal of season) Sam Sykes, Alex Roth assists

LV – Sam Sykes (9th) Alex Roth, Jean-Christophe Lachapelle

LV – Alex Roth (11th), Sam Sykes, Jean-Christophe Lachapelle

LV – Teddy Astrom (4th) OT

Las Vegas goalie – Spencer Kozlowski (3-0-0 record with Las Vegas)