After starting off the Ontario Hockey League season with a string of successes, the Guelph Storm got a taste of failure.
A disorganized and lacklustre performance by the Storm on Oct. 28 culminated in a 6-2 loss to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in a chippy, fight-filled game at the Sleeman Centre.
At times, scoring seemed secondary to the fighting on the ice. There’s no love lost between the Storm and the Greyhounds after they played each other last week (Oct. 21) with Guelph pulling off a 7-1 win.
By the end of Sunday’s game 36 infractions had been called with three players being removed from the game – Guelph’s Scott Kosmachuk for slashing, and Sault Ste-Marie’s Mark Petaccio for shoving an official and Colin Miller for slashing.
Worse, the Storm lost defenceman Andrey Pedan for at least two games after he was given a match penalty for kicking a Sault player.
Guelph has already lost a number of players to injury this season, most recently forwards Ryan Horvat, Patrick Watling and Hunter Garlent.
The team will have to make some adjustments to their lineup with another three games in three days coming up.
The game against Sault Ste. Marie started slowly, with Storm players looking distracted and sluggish right out of the gate.
It was a scoreless first period, but that quickly changed when the Greyhounds let loose with four goals in the first 12 minutes of the second period.
The Storm had a number of opportunities to get back in the game but struggled on the power play, missing scoring opportunities and having trouble keeping the puck out of their end. Even two five-on-threes produced nothing.
Storm coach Scott Walker said he was disappointed with the lack of discipline he saw on the ice but wasn’t about to berate his players’ performance, saying that a tough schedule and the loss of players to injuries has been tough on the team.
“We came out a little flatter than we should have. Mentally we weren’t into it. We weren’t moving our feet and got out of it early,” said Walker.
“I think their hearts wanted to take them places their minds couldn’t tonight.”
“But, we can live with it when we work so hard some other nights,” he added. “We’ve handled some tough games before and we’ll continue to handle them.”
Garret Sparks started the game in net, but was relieved by Jason Da Silva in the third period after allowing six goals on 28 shots.
His poor play came after a stunning performance the previous night in London, where he made 42 saves in regulation and then stopped all five London players he faced in the shootout as the Storm defeated the Knights 4-3.
A hangdog Sparks couldn’t explain what happened.
“I dunno. Every night’s a different night. You never know how the puck’s going to bounce and I just didn’t think I was getting the breaks that maybe I got on Saturday night,” he said.
“Part of it was me, part of it was just bounces. I take responsibility for it though and need to have a better weekend next weekend.”