As the playoff races tighten up down the stretch, and teams jockey for playoff position losses like last nights to the 9th place Spitfires hurt so much more. Guelph is in the thick of it when it comes to challenging for home ice advantage in the playoffs. Going into action last night they were just 3 points behind the rival Kitchener Rangers who sit 4th in the West. Guelph faced a short handed Windsor Spitfires squad that's on the outside looking in when it comes to trying to extend their OHL season. Habs prospect Brady Vail had to play defence last night because of suspensions. Windsor only played 3 forward lines last night.
Guelph was coming off a 3-2 loss to the Rangers last Sunday and it seemed that the Spits were what the doctor ordered to get back on track. Windsor was 14 points back of the Storm in the standings and had lost their last 2 games. But Jordan DeKort and the Spits had other plans.
The Storm couldn't catch a break the entire game. The Spitfires scored on their only real good scoring chance in the first when Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev was aloud to come in and draw both defencemen's attention to him leaving Kerby Rychel wide open in the slot and he made no mistake. Guelph would get a a few good chances on a couple later power plays including a Jason Dickinson deflection that hit the crossbar. Dekort stopped the rest including a dandy off a Robby Fabbri scoring chance all alone from the near circle.
The second period featured more of the same, as DeKort continued his excellent game and the Storm continued to waste good opportunities. Tanner Richard got in on a clear cut breakaway and missed the net with his shot. The teams exchanged a few power plays but nothing came of them for either side.
Early in the third period the red hot Spitfires goalie was finally solved when Richard would bang home a rebound to tie things up. The goal was Tanner's 2nd on home ice in as many games. However just three and half minutes later Kerby Rychel was sent in on the wing and sent and absolute laser into the back of the net for his 2nd of the game and 29th on the year. Rychel fired the puck from about 40 feet out, one that Sparks probably should've stopped despite the speed on the shot. One could easily make the case that Sparks misplayed it because he had not faced a lot of shots in the game let alone the period to that point. Although the Storm continued to pour on the shots DeKort was game, turning aside 46 of the 47 shots he faced. Windsor would ice the game with a late empty netter by over ager Alex Aleardi, to make it 3-1.
The Storm won't have to wait long to get their revenge as they will travel to Windsor on Sunday to face the Spits at 2:05pm. I am certain given his performance on Friday night they will face Jordan DeKort again. The reigning OHL goalie of the month Garret Sparks had a lack luster game against the Spitfires and he has to be better on Sunday. He only faced 14 shots and let in 2. Sparks who has been near lights out for the Storm since returning from Russia couldn't make the save the team needed from him last night. That will likely change tomorrow when the team looks to return the favor to Windsor.
The Storm can't afford to lose another 2 points to the lowly Spitfires, with the Soo GreyHounds hot on their heels and Kitchener just ahead of them in the standings. Kitchener visits Guelph on Wednesday night. The game could be a preview of the Storms first round match up, if the teams stay where they are in the standings.
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