For the Grande Prairie Storm, it just wasn't to be. An excellent regular season, which saw the club put on a late charge to finish in second place, ended up going to waste with a first round playoff upset by the Sherwood Park Crusaders.
Saturday night in Sherwood Park, the Crusaders nipped the Storm 3-2 to win their opening round best of five series three games to one. The Crusaders did exactly what you have to to pull off an upset—splitting the first two games in Grande Prairie, before sweeping back-to-back contests at home.
After a scoreless first period, the Crusaders tallied twice in the second. Ryan Baskerville would tie the game up in the third, as he scored two goals within a 51-second span. However, just a couple minutes later, Sherwood Park would go back out in front with what proved to be the game winner.
In the final analysis, the Storm simply lost too many key players during the season, after an eleven game winning streak back in November had the city thinking about another AJHL championship run. Heart-and-soul captain Taylor Cote and talented forward Sam Lawson were both lost for the year with concussions, while star forward Marc-etienne Drapeau left to go to college at Christmas time.
So, while the Storm pack away their equipment for the summer, the Crusaders move on for a second round meeting with first place Spruce Grove. The Saints had a bye in the opening round of the playoffs.
– Story by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com.