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Storm Clinch Fourth
Posted March 3rd, 2018 @ 11:58 pm

The Grande Prairie Storm had a win before their loss on Saturday night in Revolution Place Arena.

Before the game between the Storm and visiting Lloydminster Bobcats ended it was announced over the PA that the Spruce Grove Saints had defeated the Sherwood Park Crusaders 8-0.

The SGS win meant the Storm had clinched fourth place, and home ice advantage, in the first round of the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division quarter-finals.

The game in GP ended 4-3 in favor of the 'Cats, but the night finished up with the Storm holding a one-point lead over the Crusaders, who completed their 60-game regular season with the loss to the Saints.

The Storm and fifth-place Crusaders will open the best-of-five first round on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Grande Prairie.

Grande Prairie finishes up its regular-season schedule with another game against the Bobcats at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

While the defeat at the hands of the sixth place Bobcats wasn't a really big deal because of the Saints win, another loss has more serious implications.

Storm forward Dallas Comeau was handed a match penalty for spearing in the first period. A match normally carries at least a two-game suspension. That means Comeau, who is the team's third leading scorer with 67 points, could miss the playoff opener.

Lloydminster's win clinched sixth place for the Bobcats. They take on the Whitecourt Wolverines in the first round while in the other series the second place Fort McMurray Oil Barons will tangle with the seventh place Pontiacs. The Saints get a first round bye.

The Storm-Bobcat tilt Saturday was an interesting one before a crowd of over 1,700.

For stretches of the game, especially after rallying from a 1-0 deficit to tie the game in the second period, the Storm dominated.

Lloyd had taken a 1-0 lead on a goal by Shawn Harke just 46 seconds into the second period, but the Storm roared back on goals by Connor Blake (2:02) and Walker Cote (4:17) and completely took control of the game.

The Bobcats managed just two shots over a 10-minute span after falling behind 2-1, but one of those shots was a goal by Daniel Hilsendager at 14:50 to tie it at 2-2.

Hilsendager made it 3-2 at 1:36 of the third on the powerplay before AJHL Rookie of the Year Zach Okabe - who received his trophy from AJHL vice-president, and former Storm coach, Fran Gow before the game -netted his 21st of the season at 7:49.

The winner was a bit of a lucky one.

Matt Mohrbutter got credit for it at 15:09 of the third when his cross-crease pass bounced off a Storm defenceman's shin and into the net behind rookie netminder Ethan Slobodzian.

Slobodzian ended up facing 21 shots while the Storm fired 34 at Bailey Brkin at the other end.

A lower body injury has kept Storm veteran goaltender Charles-Olivier Levesque out of the lineup for the last few games. He could be back in time for the playoffs.

Game 2 in the Storm-Crusader series goes Thursday in Grande Prairie. The series continues in Sherwood Park for Game 3 on March 10. A Game 4, if needed, would be March 11 and then Game 5, if needed, back in Grande Prairie on March 14.

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