From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
Okay folks, here’s the deal.
This edition of the Guelph Storm has the chance to be the best team we’ve seen in Guelph in a decade.
They have won 10 in a row and outscored the opposition 60-26.
They are ranked first in the Ontario Hockey League with a 15-3-0-0 record and are No. 2 in Canada.
They have eight NHL draft picks on the team and play with a flare that reminds you of the fire-wagon hockey of yesteryear.
Don’t believe me? They have scored 19 more goals than the next closest team and 30 more goals than 16 of the 20 teams in the league.
If you haven’t been to a game yet, do it. This team can put you on the edge of your seat.
The record for wins in a row for this franchise is 11, set by the 1994-95 team that featured Jeff O’Neill, Todd Bertuzzi, Jamie Wright, Dwayne Hay, Todd Norman and Chris Hajt. That club also holds the record for consecutive home wins, with 12. The Storm are a perfect 10-0 on home ice this season.
But what is entertaining from a fan perspective is the way they can control the puck on offense. Friday night against Kitchener, it was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters perform their famous weave play, where they move the ball with lightning efficiency. The Storm skated and passed at full speed to the point you felt a little sorry for the young Rangers, who looked like deer in the headlights for the first two periods as Guelph mounted a 5-0 lead. The Storm put it on cruise control in the third, winning 6-3.
Even a veteran like Zack Mitchell, who was first star in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Sudbury, is a little in awe of what he’s seen.
“I’ve never been on a team that thinks we can win every night,” he said. “It is a lot of fun and there is not as much pressure on yourself or your line to score. All four lines can chip in every night.”
This team will still have their off nights and they’ll certainly lose some games with 50 still to play, but if they continue at this pace they will be a pleasure to watch because of their explosive style of play.
The tough part will be keeping their heads out of the clouds and giving an honest effort every night.
“It’s hard sometimes (not to stray from good defensive play) but we started getting seven goals a night by playing the right way,” said winger Scott Kosmachuk, who is tied with Brock McGinn for the team scoring lead with 30 points.
The key for this team is to realize that they have the chance to accomplish something very special as a group. Yes, it’s still early, but it is so obvious. This team has a chance to win the Ontario Hockey League championship and challenge for the Memorial Cup, but they have to play hard every night and at both ends of the rink.
“I think a number of guys realize we have a very good team,” said Kosmachuk. Certainly our (overage players) and all the fourth-year guys for sure. Our first year in the league we were supposed to have a great chance, and things didn’t work out.”
That team featured Taylor Beck, Peter Holland, Michael Latta, Richard Panik, and Sam Lofquist yet got turfed in the first round of the playoffs. It was a team that should have been much better but they were never as good as this edition of the Storm could be.
“Now that we’re No. 2 we get everyone’s A-game,” said Mitchell. “Everyone wants to beat you and knock you out.”
So far it has been the Storm scoring everyone else into submission.
From the Land of Oz . . . The Storm are waiting for a ruling against forward Robby Fabbri, who took a five-minute major for checking to the head in the Kitchener game. He scored a natural hat trick in the first two periods of that game. His suspension will likely be between four and eight games . . . former Storm player Brian Willsie was at the game Sunday. He started the year in the KHL playing for an expansion team in Croatia but had signed with Turku of the Finnish Elite league for the season and is now with that club. He really enjoyed his time in Croatia and may investigate that as an option for next year . . . Matt Finn has been selected as the OHL’s defenceman of the month for October . . . Guelph visits London Thursday at 7 p.m. before hosting Plymouth Friday at 7:30 p.m.