STORM EDGE SPITFIRES 2-1 TO EVEN SEASON RECORD

Two nights after the season opener’s theme seemed to be a lack of experience, it was two of Guelph’s youngest and least established players who sent the Storm back to Guelph two points richer. With eight minutes left in the third period, sophomore defensemen Garrett McFadden broke into the attacking zone and dangled a couple of defenders before leaving the puck on a silver platter for rookie Matthew Hotchkiss; who aptly buried the game winner from the Windsor slot. Hotchkiss’ first career OHL goal was the deciding factor as Guelph edged Windsor for a 2-1 win Sunday afternoon, their first win on the season.

Everything about the Storm’s play yesterday was an improvement on their defeat Friday night versus Belleville – a 6-0 Bulls’ shillacking.

Yet again Guelph started the night strong carrying most of the play in the first, only to find themselves trailing 1-0 heading into the locker room. The lone Spitfires goal came from talented off-season acquisition Logan Brown on the powerplay and was the result of a costly Guelph turnover, perhaps their only noticeable mistake of the game. Spirfires forward Luke Kirwan, who was dealt from Guelph to Windsor this offseason as compensation in the Rychel blockbuster, assisted on the play.

Guelph came out firing in the second, capitalizing on the powerplay a few short minutes into the frame. With two Spitfires in the box, it was Ben Harpur who fired a rocket over the shoulder of netminder Alex Fotinos for the Storm’s first tally of the early season. Fotinos looked strong all night despite being credited with the loss, as he stopped 32 of 34 shots and earned second star of the game honours. Pierog and Bertuzzi were credited with the assists on the goal, and given their strong play all night were unfortunate to come away from this one with only a point to show each.

Fans who tuned into both Storm games on opening weekend can vouch that the Storm simply were stronger on all fronts in this game. They outplayed Windsor for most of the 60 minutes, making fewer errors and taking advantage on more opposing mishaps than the home team.

One of the troubling themes of Friday night’s loss was their inability to get anything going outside of their top line of Pierog, Bertuzzi and Suter. In yesterday’s game all four lines looked sharp, and this rings especially true for the “Baby Storm” line of Matthew Hotchkiss, Tyler Boston and Adam Craievich. While Guelph’s top line still played a heavy bulk of the minutes, the team’s supporting lines created many chances and more than anything gave the team a more consistent on-ice product throughout the game.

On the back end I was very impressed by Storm veterans Phil Baltisberger and Ben Harpur who, like the Pierog/Bertuzzi/Suter line, were relied upon heavily. Garrett McFadden was the other standout on defense, as he was consistently involved in creating plays on offense. Despite the little experience he has, McFadden carried the poise of a league vet and the confidence he has in his puck handling skills was made evident by his many well-timed pinches.

Justin Nichols also had a very strong showing following his forgetful opener on Friday. He was tested with 29 shots on the night, and made several acrobatic saves at crucial moments to keep his team in it.

Simply put, the team we saw yesterday is the team I think we all expect to see every night. Despite not having the depth and experience of last year’s team, this team here is expected to produce above and beyond just their top line. And that’s definitely what we saw yesterday. I’m not able to point at a player with a Storm jersey and say they had a bad game yesterday, and while we don’t expect that to be the case all year it’s nice to see the young team come together and really fire on all cylinders following the Friday night gong show.

The win evens up the Storm’s record at 1-1, and they’ll look to add more to the win column next weekend when they take on the Plymouth Whalers and Owen Sound Attack.

 

 

Joe Krizman
In 2013, Joe graduated from Queen's University with a degree in Physical and Health Education. During his years in school, he spent his summers off working with kids at a summer camp; an experience he credits as being highly influential in shaping who he is today. Joe followed up his university degree by moving out to Calgary for the 2013/14 hockey season, where he served as the Coordinator of Player Development & Recruitment for the Western Hockey League (WHL) in their head office. Having developed a love for major junior hockey with the WHL, he is excited to be getting involved with it again this season back in his hometown of Guelph. A self-proclaimed "sports enthusiast", Joe is thrilled about getting the opportunity to share his thoughts and sports insights in a new way.