By LOGAN CLOW
For the first time since 2013, the Alberta Junior Hockey League playoffs are coming back to Grande Prairie.
Wednesday, the Whitecourt Wolverines won 7-4 over the Lloydminster Bobcats to eliminate the Bobcats from playoff contention.
It also secured the Grande Prairie Storm a berth in the AJHL post-season.
“It’s huge for us and I’m sure the boys are pretty excited,” said Matt Keillor, head coach and GM of the Storm.
“Obviously, (when I took over as head coach and GM) the goal was to make playoffs.
“To achieve it the way we did with you’re in, you’re out, you’re in, it was a rollercoaster ride for sure but as a coach it’s one of the funnest things you can do, especially at this level, is participate in a post-season. We’re pretty excited for sure.”
It’s still unclear who they’ll be playing in the first round (best-of-five format) in the AJHL’s Gas Drive Playoffs, starting March 9. The Storm’s first playoff home game is Sunday March 12 at 7:30 p.m., the team confirmed Thursday.
The Storm close out their regular season on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m at Revolution Place against the Crusaders and Bonnyville Pontiacs.
“We can’t treat (our weekend home games) as a (weight of our shoulders). (Playoffs) have been the goal the whole time and now it’s playoff hockey. We don’t want to go into the weekend and play like ‘OK, we’re in, so now we can just settle in and relax,’” said Keillor.
“Saturday’s game against Bonnyville could be a team that we’re playing against in the first round, so we have to use these (home games) as a measuring stick and really trying to propel us into the first round.”
As part of the in-game entertainment Saturday, the Storm are hosting an East Meets West Kitchen Party featuring a Newfoundland screech-in, kissing the cod and music. There’s also various prizes and silent auction items up for grabs.
Storm playoff tickets are now on sale at the Revolution Place box office.