If the talent gap is wide, the work ethic gap better not be.
But Guelph Storm coach Jarrod Skalde felt his team had a serious work ethic issue Friday night at the Sleeman Centre and that wasn't a good thing against a very skilled Sarnia Sting squad.
The Storm was completely outplayed, falling 6-2 to the Sting.
"I just didn't think that the extra effort that's required to compete against a team like that was there tonight," Skalde said after the one-sided affair.
"Secondary opportunities in front ... their fourth man beating us up the ice .... there was some compete issues tonight. That's a good hockey team and they exposed some of our weaknesses."
Guelph was clearly a step behind Sarnia all night, most notably on the back check, with Storm forwards continually late getting back to help out with the defensive chores.
"We've had some success when the effort is there from everybody," Skalde said. "If we don't have that compete effort from 20 guys, it's going to be a tough night."
Don't let the score fool you.
The Storm escaped the first period down 1-0 more by the grace of God than anything. The Sting had four power plays and you had a feeling that eventually they were going to start capitalizing on their many chances.
They started doing that in the second, scoring five unanswered goals on Storm netminder Michael Giugovaz, who was mercifully relinquished of his duties for the third period in favour of Bradley Van Schubert.
Guelph managed to outscore the Sting 2-0 in the final 20 minutes, with Isaac Ratcliffe and Luke Burghardt, the latter on a pretty individual effort, managing to beat Sarnia netminder Justin Fazio.
But by the time the third period came around the Sting was pretty much in cruise control, with many of the top bees not seeing much ice time.
"I just felt that the urgency to defend, the urgency to compete, wasn't there tonight," Skalde said.
Liam Stevens took a Travis Konecny wrist shot to the face in the second period and after getting a couple of stitches returned to play in the third. Adding insult to injury, literally, was that the puck deflected into the net for a goal.
Konecny was a wizard all night, finishing with two goals and an assist to lead Sarnia. Nikita Korostelev also scored twice.
It doesn't get any easier for the Storm. They travel to Barrie Saturday to face the hottest team in the league. The Colts haven't lost in regulation in their past 10 games.
Expect Van Schubert to start in net.