From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
They rose to number three in the national rankings, thanks to a 3-0 start, but the Guelph Storm were bodychecked back into reality this past weekend, getting pummeled 7-2 in London and 4-1 in Oshawa, two teams they had beaten the previous week.
Those losses followed a convincing 7-1 win over division rival Owen Sound Friday.
The Storm didn’t help their cause when veterans Matt Finn and Tyler Bertuzzi got involved in second and third fights in the same stoppage of play late in the win over Owen Sound.
That meant each received an automatic two game suspension.
And before you try to use that as an excuse for their losses, London was without their two top defencemen in Olli Maatta (still with the Pittsburgh Penquins) and Nikita Zadorov (injured) and one of their top two forwards in Max Domi.
“London was chomping at the bit to get to us because we knocked them out of the number one spot (in the country by beating them last week)” said head coach Scott Walker.
“On Sunday (against Oshawa) I thought we had one of our best first periods despite the fact we were playing (three games in three days), but in the second we took some bad penalties. It was extremely tough to watch.”
Discipline, or a lack thereof, has been an issue for the Storm already. Guelph is the most penalized team in the league, generously giving their opponents more power plays than any other club. Forty-six to be exact, and
Walker realizes that trend has to stop.
“We are definitely taking way too many penalties,” he admitted.
“You are always going to have some, but we have to get those nine to 10 penalties a game down to five or six. When players take bad penalties they aren’t just hurting themselves, they’re hurting their teammates who then have to go out and block shots and take on extra minutes.”
There is no magic potion to fix the problem.
“It’s a team thing,” said the coach. “We have a veteran team and teammates have to talk it out and hold each other accountable and the coaches do too. If we clean up the selfish and the lazy ones we’ll be fine.”
The Storm is still a tidy 4-2-0 this season. They did play shorthanded on the weekend and lost to two good teams.
So it’s not the end of the world so long as they right the ship now and start playing a disciplined game at 100 per cent effort.
This is a talented bunch, but it’s a tough league and if you let your foot of the accelerator for even a moment, you will find yourself on the wrong end of the score.
From the Land of Oz . . . Zack Mitchell and Brock McGinn led the way in the win over the Attack with a goal and two assists each. Seven players scored for the Storm and goaltender Justin Nichols was named third star, stopping 37 shots . . . Nichols was pulled after the second period in London. “He had faced (almost) 40 shots by that time and I didn’t think he needed to face 60,” said Walker. Rookie Matt Mancina started Sunday but was lifted after the Gens scored three quick goals in the second period.