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Guelph Storm focuses on the now as playoff hopes dim

Guelph Storm sits 18 points out of a playoff spot with 18 games remaining

It's the oldest cliché in hockey, but the Guelph Storm is invoking the right to use it.

As the team enters the home stretch, and with any hope of making the playoffs shrinking by the puck drop, the Storm is taking things "one game at a time."

The Storm split its two weekend games, downing the Saginaw Spirit 4-3 in a shootout at the Sleeman Centre Friday night then losing 6-2 to the Owen Sound Attack on the road Saturday.

"The attitude for us is getting better every day. The playoffs are in reach, but I think the main thing for us is getting better every game and getting ready for next year," said rookie forward Nic Sicoly, who had a shorthanded goal in regulation and the only goal of the shootout in Friday's win. He scored another shorthanded goal in Saturday's loss.

"We look more at the next game and getting better than we do at the standings," Sicoly said.

With 18 games left in the regular season the Storm sits 18 points back of the eighth place Saginaw Spirit for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Guelph has two games in hand.

Should the Storm not make the playoffs it will be the first time since their inaugural season in the league, the 1991-1992 season, that they have failed to do so.

"It's something that we don't really discuss," coach Jarrod Skalde said of the possibility of making the playoffs.

"It's not that it's not something that isn't a goal or wouldn't be nice, but I just think with where we've come from and where we're at, it's really just a matter of taking it one day at a time," Skalde said.

"Small victories," he said. "We're not about to raise expectations to the point where we think we're something that we're not. We are who we are."

The coach said the team is just looking to catch the next team up in the standings "then maybe, maybe, we can catch another team."

Guelph has pretty much been a .500 hockey team since Skalde took over as coach just after Christmas, but they are paying for their brutal start to the campaign.

"You want to be playing meaningful games in March. It's a challenge for any coach at any level if the games don't mean anything. We hope we can find some success in February and find some points so that come March we can look at the standings and say 'Hey, we have an opportunity here.

"But we'll see, I don't want to put the cart before the horse here."

Perhaps for a more telling tale you have to turn the OHL standings upside down and see how close the Storm is to being awarded the first overall pick in this year's draft.

The Storm is currently last overall, but just four points back of the Sudbury Wolves and eight back of the Flint Firebirds.

Saturday in the 6-2 loss to Owen Sound, the Attack scored a pair of goals on separate five-on-three power plays to pull away from the Storm, who led 1-0 early in the game.

Luke Burghardt and Sicoly had the Storm goals as the Attack badly outshot Guelph by a 49-18 margin.

The Storm is back at it Friday night when they host the vastly improved Sarnia Sting at the Sleeman Centre.


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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