LAST TEAMS OUT


Mar. 08, 2020


It was ecstasy to agony in a matter of minutes for the Ernie's Sports Experts Storm in the deciding game of a best-of-five Alberta Midget Hockey League division semi-final on Friday in the Coca-Cola Centre.

The Storm had fought back from a 3-2 deficit against the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers to tie the game at threes with a goal off the stick of Hudson Foley with just 1.8 seconds remaining in the third period.

The excitement in the Coke Can was palatable as fans high-fived and hooted.

Minutes later (no flood) the 10-minute first overtime started.

Just 1:51 into the extra frame the excitement turned to disbelief when Ashton McNelly scored to give the Rangers the 4-3 win and finish off the Storm's AMHL season winning the series 3-2 in games.

The ESE loss, combined with playoff defeats by the Peaceland Directional Drilling Storm in Northern Alberta Midget AA Hockey League action and the Boson Pizza Storm in Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League play put a curtain on the playoff games for all GPAC teams.

The Rangers had finished just two points back of the second place Storm, who had 36 points, in the Dodge Division of the AMHL so the playoff loss was no major upset.

All four wins by the Rangers were by 4-3 counts while the Storm had 4-1 and 4-2 victories at home before the loss on Friday.

On Friday, the Storm took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Cam Wiebe at 9:25, but the Rangers responded to tie it at 11:43 on a goal off the stick of Matt Smith. Both were on the powerplay.

Only goal of the second was scored, on the powerplay, by Foley to put GP up 2-1 at 12:51.

Fort Saskatchewan got that one back quickly in the third when McNelly scored ju8st 16 seconds in to make it 2-2.

And then two more PP goals.

The Rangers took their first lead at 5:30 of the third to go up 3-2 when Rhett Melynk scored at 5:30, also on the powerplay, setting up Foley's late tally, the fifth PP goal of the game, with less than two seconds to go.

Fort Saskatchewan netminder Beckett Langkow made 27 saves while McCoy Bidewell in the GP net had 26 stop. The Storm took seven minors while Fort Saskatchewan took 10.

Peaceland bowed out of the NAMAAHL playoff divisional tournament after winning one, tying one and losing one in a round-robin tournament in Peace River. The win was 6-4 over the Whitecourt Wolverines on Friday, the tie was a 4-4 draw with the Fort McMurray Barons on Thursday and the loss was 5-2 to the Peace River Royals on Saturday.

The Royals and Barons met in the division final on Sunday.

The Boston Pizza Storm took part in the AMMHL Sutter Cup semi-final in Sherwood Park losing 10-0 to Edmonton SSAC Bulldogs, 4-2 to Edmonton KC Centennials and 5-1 to Edmonton SSAC United Cycle.

All GPAC teams will be at Clarkson Hall at Evergreen Park in early-April for the annual awards banquet.

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