Storm Back In Playoff Spot

The Grande Prairie Storm roller-coast ride continued on Saturday night.

For 10 games that ride was on a downward trajectory as the team slid from a comfortable hold on sixth place to last place in the North Division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

No wins in 10 games will do that.

But, a 4-3 win over the Lloydminster Bobcats in the border city Saturday has the ride pointed in an upward direction as the team heads into its last four games of the regular season – all in the friendly confines of Revolution Arena.

They're back in a tie for sixth place with the Drayton Valley Thunder with 32 points and one up on the last place Bobcats.

Prospects of a playoff spot for the first time since the 2012-13 season have improved considerably, but there is still work to be done.

The Storm finish up with teams they have yet to defeat this year – Sherwood Park Crusaders Feb. 24-25 and March 3 and the Bonnyville Pontiacs March 4. The Bobcats have the Whitecourt Wolverines and Fort McMurray Oil Barons twice and the Spruce Grove Saints. The only team they have defeated this year between those three clubs is the Saints.

The Thunder take on the Crusaders twice, Bonnyville Pontiacs, Oil Barons, Calgary Mustangs, Camrose Kodiaks and Wolverines and have a combined 6-15 record against those teams including wins over the Mustangs, Wolverines, Oil Barons and Crusaders.

All three teams wrap up their regular seasons on Saturday, March 4. Sixth, seventh and eighth may not be decided until then.

For now, the biggest goal of the season was scored by 21-year-old Dolan Bjornson. The Hines Creek native's 12th of the season was the game winner coming at 8:06 of the third period on Saturday.

It ended what was a see-saw battle.

Lloydminster had taken a 1-0 lead in the first one a powerplay goal by Zach Webb.

That set up a furious second period.

Goals by team scoring leader Michael Clark, on the powerplay at 12:05, and Parker Smyth at 14:48 gave the Storm a 2-1 lead.

Less than a minute later Daniel Hilsendager scored for the Bobcats to tie the game at twos.

Connor Blake`s 12th of the season at 16:48 to make it 3-2 Storm and they were hunting for their fourth of the night on the powerplay later in the period only to see Lloydminster, off the stick of Matthew Jones, score a shorthanded tally to tie the game at 3-3 with just 14 seconds remaining in the middle frame.

The late goal ended up having no adverse effect on the team and thanks to Bjornson`s third period game winner the playoff prospects have improved greatly.

There were 73 shots that hit the net in Saturday`s game with 32 of them directed at Storm goaltender Arik Weersink and 41 fired at Austin McGrath at the other end.

The weekend games against the Crusaders at Revolution start at 7:30 p.m.