STRONG PLAY OF VETERANS KEY IN TYING SERIES

Much has been made all season long of the amount of experience rostered on the Guelph Storm following their championship-winning campaign almost a year ago. Suter, Dickinson, Fabbri, Baltisberger, Nichols – all veteran players each with their fair share of playoff experience.

Coming out of the intermission that separated the third period of Friday’s game and the overtime frame, the Storm looked to put that experience to use. And it didn’t take very long for them to put their proverbially foot down.

Marc Stevens, who was also involved in the Storm’s Memorial Cup run, levelled an Attack player on the Storm blueline which resulted in a Guelph 3-on-1. Only a few short minutes into the overtime frame, Chris Marchese kept the puck, and tied up the Western Conference quarterfinal 1-1 with a strong wrister past Owen Sound netminder Jack Flinn.

A very electric, and potentially momentum-swinging, moment for the Storm and their fans before the team heads out to Owen Sound for games 3 and 4 this week. Rewind the clocks back only a few short hours, and things weren’t looking so great for the defending champions.

The Storm were walloped on Friday night in their playoff opener, on home-ice nonetheless. Despite playing with effort and intensity for the first 40 minutes of that game, they found themselves in a hole heading into the third. And unfortunately, looking back on the game it’s hard to remember anything but that third period. Owen Sound dominated Guelph in the third, and finished them off for a final score of 6-1. It was ugly, too. Owen Sound took it to Guelph for 20 straight minutes, so much so that it wasn’t long before Guelph appeared to throw in the towel.

Just like that, home ice advantage was wasted, and all the momentum was with the Attack.

Not only were they down in the series, Guelph had to suffer the lingering embarrassment of the way they had it handed to them. Keeping this in mind, Sunday’s 5-4 OT win is even more impressive. It wasn’t a perfect game, but the Guelph veterans found a way to power the team to victory.

Tyler Bertuzzi notched a rare playoff hat-trick, Chris Marchese buried the winner in overtime, Jason Dickinson found the scoresheet, Luke Cairns stepped up into a top-6 role, and Robby Fabbri provided his usual spark on offense. All veteran players, each finding their own way to carry their share of the load.

Guelph will have their hands full heading up north to Owen Sound, especially given the way the Attack have played this series. Overall, they’ve played a better team game, and it’s evident by the lack of chances Guelph has had from dangerous spots on the ice. The overarching battle of this series has been, and will likely come down to, can Owen Sound contain the dangerous Guelph offense? Likewise, can the Guelph forwards find creative ways to generate chances given the strong gameplan Owen Sound has put together. On the flipside, the thin Guelph defense corps has to keep the very competent Owen Sound offense.

Thus far, I’ve been very impressed by Owen Sound and the way they’ve approached the series. Guelph has a tall order to fill, and the x-factor in this series might very well come down the play of their veteran guys. And as the series lengthens, this will only continue to play a even more crucial role.

Catch Guelph in action on Tuesday as they try to take the series lead in Game 3 of the Western quarterfinal at 7 PM EST.

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.