by Peter Ruicci (Independent Media) | Photo by Bob Davies
Not to seem like ungrateful guests, but the Guelph Storm couldn’t wait to leave Sault Ste. Marie on Friday.
Who could blame them?
The Greyhounds erupted for five first period goals, four in a span of 5:02, and went on to beat the Storm 7-2 before 2,465 at GFL Memorial Gardens.
Displaying a high level of both speed and skill, the Hounds controlled play, while taking advantage of a shaky start by Storm netminder Owen Bennett.
“That was our best period all year,” said Hounds head coach John Dean, whose club exhibited savvy and confidence offensively, while also limiting the number of scoring chances by a very good Guelph team. “The guys had a really good week of practice. We happened to click tonight (Friday).”
“We played with a lot of pace and kept trying to push their defencemen back,” added centre Rory Kerins, who was outstanding while contributing two goals and two assists to help the Soo win its second straight.
The Greyhounds improved to 13-9-0-0 heading into Sunday’s 2:07 p.m. home start against Saginaw.
“If we play our game, the way we’re capable, we can beat anyone,” added Kerins, whose team outshot the visitors 21-7 in the first period and 43-24 overall.
Storm head coach and general manager George Burnett spoke of how his club wasn’t ready for the Soo’s early onslaught.
“I don’t have any answers right now,” said Burnett, whose team had its four-game winning streak snapped, while falling to 13-7-1-1. “It’s my job to get my team ready to go and we weren’t tonight. I’m going to have to take responsibility for that.”
When asked, Burnett admitted Bennett “has got to be better, but we have to be better around him, too.”
The Greyhounds were slated to play host to Sudbury on Wednesday, but that game was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak involving several Wolves players.
Having an extra day of practice was critical, the Hounds believe.
“I was really impressed with how we played and this game was a product of the work we put in all week,” said winger Cole MacKay, who turned in a strong game and finished with two assists.
Dean spoke of how the unplanned – but welcomed – day of practice allowed his players to regroup and work on areas of their game which needed it.
“We travel a lot on Sundays and we play a lot on Wednesdays,” Dean added. “A three-practice week was important for us.”
Having split four previous games with the Storm this season, the Hounds wasted little time on Friday as Marc Boudreau scored just 3:24 in.
Boudreau took a feed from Kirill Kudryavtsev and ripped a shot past Bennett high to the glove side.
The assault began 11 minutes later as Marco Mignosa set up Bryce McConnell-Barker who buried a shot into a yawning cage to make it 2-0 at 14:28.
Kerins scored his first goal 1:27 later as Bennett was only able to get a piece of his shot.
Just 24 seconds after that, a slick passing play involving Kerins and MacKay resulted in Rob Calisti blasting home a one-timer from the top of the right face-off circle.
The goal at 16:19 made it 4-0 and gave the Soo three markers in just 1:51.
Kerins completed the first period scoring with a backhander through the five-hole, a goal at the 19:30 mark which increased the margin to 5-0 and helped chase Bennett.
“We were shooting a lot in the first period – they could barely get out of their zone,” said Boudreau. “We had a good forecheck and our D was pinching really well.”
Bennett was replaced by Jacob Oster to start the second period.
Sasha Pastujov of the Storm and the Hounds Tye Kartye, on the power play, traded second period markers. Both players have 19 goals on the season, 13 of Kartye’s have come with the man advantage.
Hounds’ rookie Justin Cloutier and the Storm’s Daniil Chayka, on the power play, traded third period goals.
Ryan O’Rourke was impressive for the home team and finished with a pair of assists.
Asked about the job his club did keeping Guelph’s offence to the perimeter, Dean said his defencemen “did a good job of closing early and our forwards did a good job of getting back.”
That allowed netminder Samuel Ivanov to enjoy a fairly easy night.
Following Sunday’s clash with Saginaw the Greyhounds are on the road for five games before they reach the Christmas break.
A three-game trip begins Thursday (7 p.m.) in North Bay and continues with back-to-back clashes in Sudbury. The teams are slated to meet on Friday (7:05 p.m.) and Sunday (2:05 p.m.) at Sudbury Community Arena.