So close ... yet so far!
The Grande Prairie Storm needed just one more win to advance to the Alberta Junior Hockey League North Division semi-final heading into Game 4 of a best-of-five against the Sherwood Park Crusaders on Sunday.
They still do after falling 8-5 to the Crusaders creating a must-win for both teams in Game 5 in Revolution Place Arena in Grande Prairie at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A late first period Storm slump was the turning point Sunday.
With the game at 2-1 for GP the Cru scored three goals in just over two minutes late in the opening frame to take over the scoreboard and force the Storm into catch-up mode for the final 40.
The Storm had taken a 1-0 lead just 1:40 into the game, but a reply from Crusader Ben McLeod made it 1-1 at 5:33. Blake's second of the period at 12:20 gave the Storm back the lead at 2-1.
And then the Sherwood Park outburst.
Arjun Atwal tied it at 2-1 at 17:17; Ty Readman made it 3-2 at 19:09; and just 13 seconds later Ryan Cox stretched the lead to two at 4-2 heading into the second.
And they kept coming.
Cox got his second at 1:22 of the second to up the margin to 5-2 and then goals by Erik Miller (8:30) and Ashton Casault, on the powerplay at 11:27, pretty much put it out of reach at 7-2.
Saturday night's OT hero Cruz Cote scored his second of the playoffs to narrow it to 7-3 and Miller's second of the game finished up the Sherwood Park scoring at 15:58.
Goals by Sean Thomson and Zach Okabe in the third gave the Crusaders notice the Storm were not going to go away in what was a bit of a chippy one with lots of minors, fights and misconducts.
Brandon Vogel in the Sherwood Park net and Grande Prairie's Ethan Slobodzian both faced 39 shots.
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