It has been over four years since the Guelph Storm beat the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in a hockey game.
March 2, 2014, to be exact, when Justin Nichols stopped Blake Speers in the shootout to seal a 4-3 Storm win.
That’s a run of 20 straight losses. Not one member of the current Storm team played that day. Only Mark Shoemaker and Zach Poirier, playing for North Bay, know what it feels like to beat the Hounds.
So with the playoffs a week away and the Storm’s first round opponent still undecided, it’s safe to say we know who they don’t want to meet.
“We’re well aware there’s still three potential opponents. We know all three matchups are going to be formidable challenges for our hockey club,” Storm coach George Burnett said.
“We’ve got to worry about ourselves and how we’re feeling,” he added.
Guelph wraps up regular season action Saturday night in Erie, but probably won’t know who their opening round opponent is until Sunday, when the two teams one point back of them in the standings, Windsor and Saginaw, meet to end their regular seasons.
Of course Guelph controls its own destiny. Win tonight in Kitchener and Saturday in Erie and they are guaranteed sixth place and a first-round matchup against the Sarnia Sting..
Get three points and they are guaranteed sixth or seventh place, avoiding Sault Ste. Marie.
Get two or less points and the Soo is a possibility.
Any opponent is trouble for a team that has won just two of its past 14 hockey games. Guelph is a combined 2-13 against their three possible oppoonents.
They have, on occasion, played well against Kitchener and Sarnia.
Guelph is 0-4 against the Sting this season, but three of the games were decided by one goal, one ending in a shootout and another in overtime.
“We’ve played pretty well against Sarnia this year. Except for one game, the other three were very, very close,” Burnett said.
Against Kitchener they are 2-5, with one more game left to be played. The last two games went to overtime.
“Kitchener has kinda’ put the boots to us after the first game of the season until more recently,” Burnett said.
“The last two games have been much more close on the scoreboard, but there’s still a lot of things we have to figure out.”
Juggling the numbers and checking the schedule, it would appear seventh place and a matchup against Kitchener would seem most likely.
The Highway 7 rivalry would live on.
“I guess I’m new to this rivalry. We didn’t meet in the playoffs the last time I was here,” Burnett said of the possibility. “I’m sure there’s be a great deal of interest if Guelph and Kitchener do have the opportunity to meet.
“I’m sure if the two teams met there would be some interest in making the rivalry flourish again. If that’s the way it shakes out, we’ll do our best to prepare and do our best to excite the community.”
For how long that excitement would last remains to be seen.