There is usually no solace in losing . . . but when you fall to one of the best teams in Canada in their building by just one goal it can be a confidence-builder for your team as it winds out the regular season preparing for the playoffs.
In the playoffs you are going to need confidence and good goaltending to advance. Stellar netminding is what the Storm got from Charles-Olivier Levesque on Friday in Okotoks in a close 4-3 loss to the No. 2 nationally ranked Oilers.
Levesque faced 52 shots and was named the Away Star.
The Storm scored once on three power play chances and the Oilers none on three chances. Special teams are something else important for a good playoff run so if that trend continues there is reason for optimism heading into the post season.
The loss didn't change anything in regards to three-point gap between the fourth place Storm and fifth place Sherwood Park Crusaders in the North Division standings. The Cru didn't play so the Storm did lose the game in hand they have. Both teams have now played 50 games and have 10 remaining.
This week's AJHL results mean the Storm can finish no lower than sixth place. They have finished seventh twice (2016-17 and (2014-15) and eighth twice (2015-16 and 2013-14) since placing second in 2012-13. There is still a mathematical chance of third, but it's a long shot. The third place Whitecourt Wolverines have 66 points and the Storm 49.
On Friday it was a powerplay goal by Jonothan Hader at 9:56 of the third that set up a furious finish to the game.
It made the score 4-3 allowing the Storm to pull Levesque for an extra attacker in the last minute in an attempt to at least gain a point in a building where the Oilers have given up just six all season long.
Logan Moon scored the only goal of the first to give the Storm a 1-0 lead, but the Oilers came roaring back in the second on goals by Quinn Olson, Kaleb Ergang and Austin Wong. The period ended up 3-2 when Edouard Michaud scored at 17:57.
Tanner Laderoute's goal at 4:10 put the Oilers up by two before the Hader goal midway through the period made it interesting for the final half of the final period.
Levesque faced 25 shots in the second, the same number the Storm fired at Riley Morris at the other end over the entire game.
The Storm finish up their road trip with a game against the Canucks in Calgary before returning home for a pair – Wednesday against the Bonnyville Pontiacs and then Friday against the Brooks Bandits.