A month ago, the Grande Prairie Storm were battling for first place in the AJHL North Division. Now, they're battling just to hold on to home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Bonnyville Pontiacs thumping the Storm 5-1 Wednesday night at the Canada Games Arena to sweep the back-to-back games between the rivals. The result also moved the Pontiacs into a tie for second place with Whitecourt, with both clubs two points ahead of the fourth place Storm.
For the second straight night, any momentum the home side had coming into the game vanished early, as the Pontiacs once again scored on their first shot of the game. Most of the remainder of the first period was fairly close checking, with the Storm hitting the post in the dying seconds of the frame.
The second period turned out to be the major undoing for the locals, as the Pontiacs added three more goals to increase the lead to 4-0 before a goal in the dying seconds from Tanner Labbe broke Bonnyville's shut out bid.
A short-handed marker by the Pontiacs in the final minute of the third period capped off a tough night for the Storm powerplay, which went 1-for-10. Bonnyville wasn't much better, going 1-for-8 on a night where the two referees were determined to be the show.
Overall, the four game home stand for Grande Prairie was definitely not what the doctor ordered, as the team posted a record of just 1-3. The team now heads to Drayton Valley for a Saturday night match-up with the Thunder. It's another key contest, as the fifth place Thunder currently trail the Storm by just three points.
– Story submitted by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com