Before the game the message on the big screen to the Malmo Redhawks said “valkommen” - Swedish for welcome.
Mitch Fillman must not have gotten the message.
The Grande Prairie Storm forward made the visitors from Sweden feel very un-valkommen at the Peak Energy International Experience.
Fillman, 20, scored five times helping the Alberta Junior Hockey League Storm to an 8-4 win over the Swedish elite junior league Redhawks before 2,357 in the Canada Games Arena on Wednesday night.
“Mitch had a very hot stick and hopefully he gains some offensive confidence from tonight,” said Storm coach/general manager Mike Vandekamp of the Oakville, Ont. native, who joined the team late in the season and has four goals and three assists in 11 games. “It was great to see him get rewarded on the scoresheet because he has been a real warrior for us since he joined our team. “
Fillman set the tone for the Storm early in the game scoring on a nifty backhander over Redhawks netminder Robert Vysehrad’s shoulder just 3:13 into the game. Dan Correale, as he crashed into Vysehrad on a solo rush cutting around a defenceman, made it 2-0 at 14:43.
Before the halfway point of the game the Storm had made it 4-0 on Fillman’s second at 3:52 of the middle period – a wrist shot off a rebound from about 20 feet out - and then his third at 7:25 as he rushed in from the left side and cut in front of Vysehrad sneaking the puck along the ice past the shell-shocked Swedish netminder.
His hattrick goal triggered a Swedish comeback.
Victor Ohman scored on the powerplay to make it 4-1 at 8:52 of the second; Nicolia Meyer made it 4-2 at 15:03; and Zebastian Ilestedt narrowed it to 4-3 scoring at 17:41.
Ilestedt scored again at 7:07 of the third period to tie the game at 4-4 –cueing a Storm comeback led by the line of Fillman, Cam McWilliam and Josh Juell.
McWilliam, who also had a five-point night with a goal and four helpers, led the onslaught that saw the Storm score four goals in less than five minutes.
He started it at 7:25 to make it 5-4; Juell made it 6-4 at 8:09; and then Fillman finished up his big night with a goal at 11:37 and then another at 12:11.
It was a bit of a rollercoaster of a game for Vandekamp and his troops.
“I thought we did some very good things and made some questionable decisions as well that caused us some problems,” said the coach mentor. “When we managed the puck properly we were very good and were able to create some good offensive opportunities off of the rush. We turned over the puck a few too many times and gave them their goals. We must cut down those types of mistakes in the final third of the season. “
One thing that was consistent was the Storm penalty killing. They allowed just one goal on six Malmo extra strength chances, including a long five-on-three in the third where they allowed no real good Swedish scoring chances. The Storm had just two powerplay opportunities.
Malmo had much more jump than they did on Tuesday after losing 2-1 to the Dawson Creek Rage following a long day of travel Sunday and little sleep Monday night and an eight-hour time change to get used to.
“We played much better than we did on Tuesday,” said Redhawks coach Roger Ohman.
Malmo now heads to the B.C. coast for five games against British Columbia Hockey League teams while the Storm host the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in an AJHL regular season game at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Canada Games Arena.
“It was an entertaining game for the fans and hopefully they’ll come back for the game tomorrow night against Fort McMurray,” said Vandekamp. “It was good for us to get some of the kinks out coming back from the Christmas break. “
Fillman was the obvious choice as the Storm Player of the Game while the Malmo honors went to Ohman, who was injured in the third period after colliding with a teammate and didn’t return to the ice to finish the game.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)