From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
The Guelph Storm set a new franchise record Sunday when they defeated the Sarnia Sting 6-2 to win their 50th game of the season.
They now sit with 103 points on the year (which ties a franchise record) and if they get three of a possible six points in their final three games they will clinch first overall in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Storm, despite their best season ever, have struggled a little coming down the stretch. They frittered away a 5-0 lead in Sudbury to lose 6-5 and were pounded 6-2 on home ice by Owen Sound Friday night, a team almost 40 points behind them in the standings.
Those two losses have given Erie and London hope of catching the Storm to slide into first place, but Guelph should clinch this week playing Kitchener at home Wednesday night and hosting Sarnia Friday night.
The Rangers and Sting sit ninth and 10th respectively in the Western Conference.
The Storm has been strong in all facets of the game this season but goal scoring has been a special strength. Brock McGinn scored twice in the win over Sarnia and is just one goal shy of the 40-goal plateau. If he scores once more, it will give the Storm three 40-goal scorers for only the third time in team history. Scott Kosmachuk and Robby Fabbri have 43 goals each.
Fabbri is the big surprise when it comes to the goal total. As a 17-year-old, he has performed way beyond expectations and even he is a little surprised with his totals.
“When you consider the 10-game suspension I had earlier, I didn’t think it would happen,” said the modest sophomore. “We have a team with a lot of depth for sure and I hope that will bring us far in the playoffs.”
As the season goes along, Fabbri’s stock continues to rise in the NHL draft. His consistent work ethic and nose for the net will make him an attractive pick.
Both Erie and London went through stretches where they struggled to win games and right now it is the Storm trying to regain the crispness to their game. Friday against Owen Sound they dominated the second period but couldn’t bury the puck against netminder Jack Flinn and the Attack scored on every chance they had.
Coach Scott Walker said after the game that “It’s the most disappointed I’ve been with our team this year for sure,” feeling they were badly outworked.
“We’re not playing our best hockey right now,” admitted Fabbri. “We go into every game preparing more and more and trying to get back on track to where we were when we were playing well.”
It is hard to be critical of the best regular season team in franchise history, but the coaches and players would love to be going into the playoffs on a roll.
There are three games left before the postseason begins with a first round match-up against Plymouth all but a certainty.
From the Land of Oz . . . It was great to see Zack Mitchell sign a free agent contract with the Minnesota Wild last week. Mitchell, in his fifth year with the Storm, has set the all-time franchise record for games played with 319 . . . The other two seasons the Storm had three 40-goal men were 1993-94 (Jeff O’Neill, 45, Sylvain Cloutier, 45, Mike Prokopec 52) and 1994-95 (O’Neill, 43, Todd Bertuzzi, 54, Jamie Wright, 43) . . . If the playoffs were to start today, and all first round match-ups went according to Hoyle, Guelph would be playing London in the second round.