Battle For Fourth Heats Up

Now it gets REALLY interesting!

A Grande Prairie Storm 3-0 loss to the Bonnyville Pontiacs in Bonnyville Saturday combined with a Sherwood Park Crusader 7-6 overtime win over the Calgary Canucks has created what should be a frantic homestretch dash for fourth spot in the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division.

And the team that will be the biggest factor is the Lloydminster Bobcats.

The Bobcats sit in sixth place in the eight team North, seven back of the fifth place Crusaders and eight behind the fourth place Storm.

Grande Prairie has three games remaining against the Bobcats (Sunday in the border city and then March 3-4 in Grande Prairie) while the Crusaders play them one more time, on Wednesday.

All three teams – the Storm, Crusaders and Bobcats – could finish fourth, fifth or sixth. The Pontiacs, in seventh place, could end up sixth or seventh.

The Drayton Valley Thunder, after a 9-2 loss to the Drumheller Dragons on Saturday have officially been eliminated from the playoffs.

The Spruce Grove Saints will also play a role in deciding which team finishes in the coveted fourth place and home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Spruce Grove visits the Storm on Wednesday and play the Crusaders in a pair to finish up the regular season – March 2 in Spruce Grove and March 3 in Sherwood Park. The Crusaders have yet to beat the Saints in four games this year.

Saturday in Bonnyville Justin Travis made 23 saves for the shutout while rookie Ethan Slobodzian at the other end faced 31. Bobby Young, Isaac Saniga (on the powerplay) and Adam Panacci scored for the Pontiacs.

Game time Wednesday against the Saints in Revolution Arena is 7:30 p.m.