The Grande Prairie Storm 5-2 victory over the visiting Bonnyville Pontiacs in Revolution Arena on Wednesday defintely wasn't pretty, but they'll take the two points and prepare for the powerful Brooks Bandits on Friday.
And those points come in handy as the fourth place Storm try to hold off the Lloydminster Bobcats and Sherwood Park Crusaders – tied for fifth five points back.
For the last couple of months the Storm have been holding off the Crusaders in the battle for home ice advantage in the first round of the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division playoffs – the coveted fourth spot- but a surge by the Bobcats of late – six wins in their last 10 games and eight losses in a row by the Cru – could mean a Storm-Bobcat tussle for fourth and fifth.
Interestingly enough the two teams have three games remaining against each other including the final two games of the regular season in Grande Prairie March 3-4.
Wednesday the Storm donned red-based sweaters that were auctioned off during the game with the proceeds to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.
Two goals in less than three minutes to start the game pretty much settled things for the Storm.
Dallas Comeau got the ice breaker at 1:07 and then Zach Okabe at 2:57 on the powerplay made it 2-0 and the Pontiacs were in chase mode.
The chase continued when Jared Power scored at 11:53 of the second to make it 3-0.
The period ended at 3-1 after Bekkam Willis scored with 2:34 to go in the middle frame.
If 3-1 didn't salt things away for the Storm the 4-1 goal, scored team scoring leader Justin Bernier just 56 seconds into the third, certainly did.
The Pontiacs found a new gear for a strech in the third making it 4-2 on a goal by Brendan Morrow at 6:33 and then Bernier netted his 30th of the season into an open net with 25 seconds to go in the third.
Charles-Olivier Levesque was in net for the Storm facing 25 shots while Justin Travis at the other end looked at 23.
While the Storm have, mathematically, secured a playoff spot they could finish anywhere from fourth to seventh. The Bobcats and Crusaders are five back and the Pontiacs in seventh nine back. Bonnyville has six, Sherwood Park seven and the Storm and Bobcats eight games remaining.
Friday's game against the Bandits, in second place in the South Division, starts at 7:30 p.m.