Battle For Fourth Continues

At the start of the Alberta Junior Hockey League season if Storm fans were told their team would in fourth place with a month remaining in the season they would be pretty happy about that.

The regular season ends March 4 and the Storm sit in fourth with a playoff spot clinched and a mathematical chance of still finishing third.

With 49 points and 12 games remaining the Storm are 14 back of the third place Whitecourt Wolverines.

At the other end of the spectrum they are 10 up on the seventh place Bonnyville Pontiacs; seven up on the sixth place Lloydminster Bobcats; and three ahead of the Sherwood Park Crusaders going into Sunday's game against the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the oilsands city.

Saturday the Storm didn't help their bid for fourth with a 7-3 loss to the Oil Barons, but either did the Crusaders losing losing 4-3 to the Okotoks Oilers.

While third is still a long shot, seventh is also a possibility, but the more likely scenario is the Storm and Crusaders battling for fourth and fifth.

Fourth is important for the organization because it means they start the playoffs at home and in a best-of-five  first round series home ice advantage is extra important.

The fact the Storm are 15-7-2 at home and 8-15-1 on the road makes it doubly important to finish in the top four.

Sunday's game (2 p.m.) is important for the Storm in a couple of ways.

A Storm victory – besides potentially putting them five points up on the Crusaders with a game in hand – would also give them some confidence against a team, a potential North Division second round playoff opponent, they have yet to defeat in four games this year. The Crusaders play the Calgary Mustangs in Calgary Sunday.

On Saturday the Storm fell behind 2-0 in the first and 5-1 after 40 minutes.

Edourad Michaud, who also had an assist, along with Justin Bernier and Jon Hader got the Storm goals. Coy Prevost had two and J.C. Thiverge, Jarred White, Nicholas Leeseberg, Jack Hamly and Will Conley singles.

Charles-Olivier Levesque and Ethan Slobodzian shared the GP netminder duties. Levesque played the first 40 looking at 25 shots while Slobodzian handled 13 in his 20 minutes on the ice. The Storm directed 22 at Eric Szudor at the other end.

Bernier continues to be in the hunt for the league points title. He is in second place with 65 points on 27 goals and 38 assists and trails league leader Chris Van Os-Shaw by 12.

After Sunday the Storm road travels continue with games in Okotoks against the Oilers on Friday and in Calgary against the Canucks on Saturday.

They return home to host the Bonnyville Pontiacs on Wednesday, Feb. 14 and then the Brooks Bandits on Feb. 16.