The Grande Prairie Storm’s 2018-2019 season is over. The team fell to the Fort McMurray Oil Barons 5-1 Monday night, dropping the best-of-five first round playoff series 3-1.

Like the series overall, the Storm were hot to start game four, ending the first period with a 1-0 lead. However, the Oil Barons scored four minutes into the second and Grande Prairie never recovered.

“Unfortunately, on the defensive side of things, you can’t have break downs like we did,” says head coach Matt Keillor. “Our break downs weren’t small; they were big and where there’s a break down like that eventually it’s going to be in the back of the net.”

Facing elimination and with their backs against the wall, Keillor admits it was hard to keep emotions from running high, especially for older players facing the end of their junior hockey careers. However, the coach gives kudos to some of the younger members of the team.

“I think the guys returning next year… mentally they’re a very mature group for their age. I think with a really good summer I’m excited to see what happens next year.”

The 20-year-olds graduating are Xavier Pouliot, Vincent Milot-Ouellet, Noah Corson, Zach Webb, and captain Connor Blake. The Storm have been actively recruiting all season and Keillor says coaching staff will be spending the off-season evaluating each player and position.

“There’s no denying that we’re trying to build a program that can win championships.”