Just one more point. That's all the Grande Prairie Storm now need to clinch second place in the AJHL North Division standings.
Storm made it four wins in a row on Sunday afternoon, as they downed the Crusaders 3-2 in Sherwood Park. The win completed a short but successful road trip, which saw them come up with a 3-2 shootout victory one night earlier in Drayton Valley.
The visitors got all the offence they'd need within the first fifteen minutes of the hockey game. Devin Case opened the scoring about two minutes into the first, followed by a pair of Ryan Matthews goals in the middle of the period to grab a quick 3-0 lead. Sherwood Park would get one back late in the opening frame.
From there on in, it was pretty much the Nick Kulmanovsky show. He blocked 33 shots in a game his club was outshot 35-22 and has been been in goal for all four wins during this current Grande Prairie hot streak. The Crusaders never seriously threatened to force overtime in this one, as their second goal came with just 14 seconds left in the game.
Matthews' winning goal came on the powerplay—the only one of of six during the contest in which the Storm scored. The Crusaders had no luck at all with the man advantage, going 0-for-6.
The win was the first in three trips to the Sherwood Park Arena and just the second in five tries overall against the Crusaders, who are almost certainly the Storm's first round opponent. The Crusaders appear destined to finish seventh, while Grande Prairie is almost a shoe-in for second. The only club that could now catch the Storm is Bonnyville and for that to happen, the Pontiacs would need to win their last two, while the Storm would have to lose both of their final two games in regulation time. Even one “loser point” for going to overtime will sew things up for Grande Prairie.
Storm will face the same two teams next weekend as they just met. Crusaders are into the Canada Games Arena Friday evening, while the Thunder pay a visit on Saturday night.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com