Making the playoffs appears to be well in hand for the Grande Prairie Storm.
They are 18 points ahead of the eighth place Drayton Valley Thunder in the North Division with less than a third of the 60-game Alberta Junior Hockey League regular season remaining to play.
Whether they will finish in the top or bottom half of the standings will be settled between today and the final Storm regular season game on March 4.
It's going to be an exciting sprint to that fourth place finish line . . . made even more interesting after Saturday's play.
A 6-2 loss to the Spruce Grove Saints in Spruce Grove combined with a Sherwood Park Crusader 5-4 victory over the Canmore Eagles has dropped the Storm to fifth - a point back of the Crusaders.
Grande Prairie has 41 points and the Crusaders 42 and SP has a game in hand.
It's home, sweet home for the Storm as they wrapped up a five-game road swing to start the 2018 portion of the schedule.
They host the Calgary Mustangs on Friday and the Lloydminster Bobcats on Saturday in Revolution Place Arena; head out on the road to Drayton on the 23rd; and then return home for games against the Okotoks Oilers (Jan. 26) and Olds Grizzlys (Oct. 27).
A three-goal Spruce Grove second period was the turning point in Saturday's game.
The teams had ended the first tied at 1-1, but the Saints scored three in a row in the second to take a 4-1 lead with the period ending at 4-2.
Edouard Michaud, the Away Star of the Game, had both Storm goals and now has 28 on the season and sits third overall in the league points race with 51.
Chris Van Os-Shaw had a five-point night for the Saints with a goal and four helpers. He is now tied with the Storm's Justin Bernier with 60 points at the top. Bernier had two assists on Saturday.
Six different Spruce Grove players scored with Damon Zimmer, Josh Harris, Brett Trentham, Graeme Bryks and Parker Saretsky getting the other goals.
Rookie Ethan Slobodzian played the entire game for the Storm looking at 36 shots while the Storm fired 13 at Hayden Missier at the other end.
The win moves the Saints into a tie with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons with 65 points atop the AJHL North standings.
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