By Ned Bekavac
The jubilant on-ice celebrations were winding down and Stephen Pierog, like his Guelph Storm teammates, was headed back to the dressing room on Friday night as an OHL champion.
But first, he held his phone high for one last documentation of this precious moment at the Sleeman Centre.
No wonder. Pierog grew up a Storm fan. Now, he’s helped bring the city its first Ontario Hockey League title in 10 years.
“I can’t believe it right now,” said Pierog, after the Storm earned a thrilling come-from-behind 4-3 win to knock off the North Bay Battalion in five games in the OHL championship series.
The Guelph native had spent his entire OHL career with the Peterborough Petes, until being traded here in January.
“My dream was to play here – this is so surreal right now,” said Pierog, as teammates passed him with celebratory hoots and hollers while making their way to the change room.
“It’s a great feeling, especially with this group of guys – we did it,” said the forward.
The former Guelph CVI student gave props to the Battalion, who put up a much bigger fight in the finals than many people expected. Four of the five games in the series were decided by one goal.
During on-ice celebrations, Pierog made his way over to a rink door and gave a big hug to one Mike MacPherson, who is the principal of Our Lady of Lourdes high school, and an OHL scout.
MacPherson was a Petes scout when Pierog played there, and the Stormer says he was hugely responsible for getting him through the OHL door. The two are good friends and do lunch together frequently, Pierog says.
“He’s one of the reasons why I’ve been playing in the OHL,” said Pierog. “He gave me the chance in Peterborough.”
The Storm will now move on to compete in the Memorial Cup, which starts on Friday in London, Ont.
While they are by now gearing up for the national championship tournament, the team was certainly going to enjoy their OHL win Friday first.
“It’s too early” to talk Memorial Cup, said Pierog, after Friday’s win. “We just gotta enjoy the moment right now. And we’ll get back to the drawing board in a couple of days.”