Guelph Storm sniper Pavel Gogolev pauses before answering the question as tactfully as possible.
The question asked was whether he feels pressure to be ‘the man’ when it comes to scoring goals. Whether there is extra weight on his shoulders every time the Storm is down by a goal.
“Errr … a little bit,” said Gogolev, before quickly regrouping.
“I know that Hilly (Cam Hillis), Ube (Eric Uba), Stevie (Keegan Stevenson), Ralphie (Cedric Ralph), all those guys can score goals. They rely on me, I rely on them a little bit,” he said.
“I believe in this group and those guys that they can score goals.”
They can and they have. Just not with the regularity and consistency the team needs.
Guelph is the lowest scoring team in the Western Conference, has pretty much the entire season. Only the bottom two teams in the Eastern Conference have scored less.
Gogolev has 22 per cent of his team’s goals, which is the highest of any player in the league. Peterborough’s Nick Robertson is a close second at (21 per cent).
Last year Isaac Ratcliffe scored 50 goals, but it was just 16 per cent of the team’s total.
It’s great that Gogolev is having such a great season, with an outside shot at 50 goals if he got red-hot down the stretch. But it’s not a winning formula to have one player relied upon for so much of the scoring.
Hillis is primarily a playmaker and Uba, with 20, has been the only other consistent scorer. Ralph and Stevenson have been up and down all year. More down than up lately. Stevenson has two goals in his last 11 games, Ralph one in his last 13 games.
The scoring dearth didn’t matter quite so much when Nico Daws was standing on his head, but everyone knew that likely wasn’t sustainable.
Now the shoe is on the other foot and the team needs to pay their goaltender back with better offence.
Gogolev, a model of consistency this season at the offensive end of the ice, can’t do it alone. One line can’t do it alone.
Unless secondary scoring emerges, the weight on Gogolev’s shoulders, admitted or not, will only get heavier.