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Island Storm forward Brad States, left, goes for the block as the Saint John Riptide's Darin Mency goes to the rim during National Basketball League of Canada action in Saint John, N.B., earlier this season.
©Glenn Foote Photography
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – There won’t be any surprises when the Island Storm faces the Saint John Riptide in National Basketball League of Canada action tonight in Saint John, N.B.
It’s the last regular season meeting between the clubs and Storm head coach Joe Salerno knows what to expect from the Riptide and its head coach Rob Spon, and vice versa.
“I don’t know about surprises. You know what Gabe Freeman can do, you know what Anthony Anderson can do. I’ve coached a long time against Rob Spon. So much comes down to preparation,” said Salerno, who doubles as Storm vice-president of player personnel.
Game time is 7 p.m. in what’s been a homer series as Saint John is 3-0 at Harbour Station versus the Storm and 0-4 against the Island squad at Eastlink Centre.
Saint John (22-15) has won seven of its last 10 games and sits second in the Atlantic Division, while the Storm (14-19) went 4-3 in its recent seven-game run at Eastlink Centre, including a 129-91 thumping of the Cape Breton Highlanders on Sunday to round out the homestand.
The Storm is third in the Atlantic, but has four games in hand on the Riptide.
The contest also features four of the league’s top-five scorers.
Anderson and Freeman are first and second at 23.75 and 23.16 points per game, respectively, while the Storm’s Jahii Carson is third at 20.88 and Terry Thomas is fifth overall at 19.19.
So Salerno anticipates one last back-and-forth tilt.
“They’re playing exceptionally well. (Three of four) wins in Ontario don’t come easy. I think we’re coming off one of our best games of the season,” he said. “I think we have great guard play and their frontcourt has been solid all year. It just comes down to which team wants to play hard and compete.”
Salerno said Thomas is probable despite a back strain, while centre A.J. Stewart is questionable with a nagging foot injury.
He said the Storm could sign a healthy player to close out the regular season, but only if Stewart or Thomas go on injured reserve. While Salerno doesn’t see Thomas on the IR list, Stewart’s is a possibility.
“The foot just won’t heal without rest so we’ll see how A.J. is (Wednesday) night and we’ll take it from there,” Salerno said.
The Storm closes out the home season Thursday versus the Halifax Hurricanes. Game time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
Storm holding fan appreciation night
The Island Storm’s final home game of the regular season versus the Halifax Hurricanes on Thursday features $5 bowl tickets as part of the Storm’s inaugural fan appreciating game.
The price includes all adult, senior, student and youth tickets. All courtside seats and luxury boxes remain the same price.
All season ticket holders receive a free bowl ticket for the game when they show their ticket in person at the box office. Courtside or luxury box season ticket holders can choose a free bowl ticket or a $20 voucher towards a courtside or luxury box ticket.
Those with a single game ticket previously purchased will be entitled to free tickets. An adult or senior ticket can be presented at the box office and you will receive two free bowl tickets. Any student or youth tickets can be presented for one free ticket.
Contact the Eastlink Centre box office in person, at 902-629-6625 or www.eastlinkcentrepei.com.
Stewart wins weekly award
Island Storm point guard Al Stewart was named Atlantic Division player of the week in the National Basketball Association of Canada for tallying a triple-double (29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) in a 129-91 drubbing of Cape Breton on Saturday.
Stewart also became the franchise’s all-time leading scorer last Thursday in a 104-101 loss to Niagara.
Maurice Jones of the Windsor Express earned the Central Division weekly honour with a triple-double versus Orangeville (12 points, 11 rebounds, 19 assists).