The Guelph Storm has a successful template and it looks like they’re sticking to it: Lose the first game of the OHL final, maybe even the first two or three, then mount the heroic comeback.
They certainly kept true to form on Thursday, turning in a sloppy, careless performance in Ottawa to drop Game 1.
If it’s any consolation, they lost the first game of the Western Conference final to Saginaw by the same 7-2 score.
But there should be little consolation in what happened on Thursday.
It started badly with two bad goals as Anthony Popovich clearly wasn’t on his game. Any time a player shots across the grain and beats you high blocker like Tye Felhaber did late in the first period is a sign of bad positioning or bad thinking, or both.
But this one wasn’t all on Popovich.
Fedor Gordeev, who was having such a difficult time with speedy Ottawa wingers that he was moved up to forward by coach George Burnett, responded by hammering Ottawa’s Alec Belanger from behind into the boards.
The score was 4-2 at the time and Guelph was coming on strong.
Ottawa promptly scored three times on the Gordeev brain fart and it was all over but the crying.
And let’s not forget Ottawa was playing without 6’6”, 240-pound blueliner Kevin Bahl, a late scratch due to injury or illness.
Would Guelph have come back had Gordeev not melted down?
When your goalie lets in seven goals on 26 shots and your power play is 1-for-9, the problems on the night run deeper than an ill-placed shoulder to the back of an unsuspecting player.
And while there is no word early Thone would have to believe Gordeev is in for a suspension.
That means more playing time for rookie Daniel Chayka, who has dressed but rarely played since the first round of the playoffs.
Chayka actually saw more shifts Thursday than he has in the past two series combined, but what it likely means is more work for the top five defencemen.
If any positive can be taken from Thursday it’s that after that bad start, and before Gordeev’s hit, the Storm showed they can get Ottawa back on its heels and maintain consistent pressure.
Had the power play been a bit better last night, or Popovich had been his usual reliable self, the game might have been a different story.
Instead, it’s the same old story heading into Game 2.