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Guelph Storm celebrates with fans at season-ending rally (15 photos)

Celebration rally at Market Square Monday draws around 450 fans

Almost two hours after it started, long after most of the crowd had drifted away, Guelph Storm stars Isaac Ratcliffe and Nick Suzuki stood in Market Square signing autographs for a few fans who had waited just as long to get them.

Ratcliffe and Suzuki are OHL stars. Top NHL prospects for the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens. They will not be back in Guelph next season.

Yet two of them stayed until the end of the end-of-season rally, making sure everyone got an autograph.

Not only did it say something about the two young men, but it also said something about the bond between this year's Storm team and their dedicated fans, roughly 450 of who showed up at 4 p.m. on a weekday to cheer on their team.

Mayor Cam Guthrie said a few words, as did Ratcliffe, thanking the organization, his teammates and the fans for all their support.

Storm co-owner Rick Gaetz told the players that they will "walk together forever" after this season, which saw them win the OHL championship in remarkable comeback fashion before losing in the semifinal of the Memorial Cup.

"You're forever Guelph Storm family members now and you'll always be welcome back in Guelph," Gaetz said to the players. "You'll always be part of the GuelphStorm family, always be welcome in the community and always welcome through our doors."

At least 13 members of this team won't be back next season, moving on to the professional ranks, university hockey or other levels of pro hockey.

"This Guelph team will be spoken about in the OHL for decades and will clearly be remembered in Guelph for decades to come," Gaetz said.