Another Close One In Spruce

 So close . . . yet.

That has been the mantra of the Grande Prairie Storm for a good part of the season.

Very few times has the team not been in the thick of the battle in any game after 27 tries during the regular season of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Happened again Wednesday night.

The Storm didn’t allow their opposition to feel good about their chances of victory until very, very late in the contest.

Wednesday it was an empty net goal with a minute to go that allowed the Saints to relax a little en route to a 3-1 win – their 18th in 27 tries this year and a solid grip on fourth place in the North Division of the AJHL.

The Storm came out of the gate well out-shooting the Saints 13-11 in a scoreless first period.

Spruce Grove got on the board first when Parker Smioth scored at 12:08 of the second and then went ahead 2-0 on a goal by Noah Westgate at 8:15 of the third.

Zac McNeill, with his ninth of the season, narrowed the gap to 2-1 at 18:09 of the third setting up the frantic finish that, for Storm fans, ended in disappoint with the empty net goal by Parker Saretsky.

Arik Weersink got the start and was the Away Star of the game facing 36 shots. The Storm fired 28 pucks at Nolan Kent at the other end.

The Storm and Drayton Valley Thunder’s grip (they both have 16 points) on sixth/seventh place is a little more precarious after the Lloydminster Bobcats, in eighth, upset the Sherwood Park Crusaders 3-1 on Wednesday. The Thunder are now just five points back with 11.

A pair of home games could be just what the Storm, now 0-9-1 in their last 10, need to get back on track.

They host the Whitecourt Wolverines, tied for first in the North with the Bonnyville Pontiacs with 41 points, in a pair of games this weekend.

The two teams tangle on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in Revolution Arena.