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Guelph Storm learning one of hockey's toughest lessons (6 photos)

Guelph wins its third in a row as the hunt for home ice in the playoffs continues

It’s one of the toughest lessons a young hockey player has to learn, particularly on a team that has struggled to the depths the Guelph Storm has the past couple of seasons.

“We’re learning how to win,” said the Storm’s Nate Schnarr, who led the way with a goal and an assist Friday as the Storm downed the Windsor Spitfires 3-1 at the Sleeman Centre.

It was Guelph’s third straight win and moved them into a tie for sixth place in the Western Conference standings with the Spits, one point back of Saginaw and three back of London.

“It’s going to take some time to learn how to win, but we’re putting a string of games together where we’re all playing well and we’re finding ways to win,” Schnarr said.

Learning how to win is a process, not an epiphany, and the Storm has been able to look great some nights, but putting a string of games together in a row has been an issue.

“It’s absolutely a process,” coach George Burnett said.

“It’s understanding situations and managing the puck. When to pinch and when not to pinch … it’s understanding situations and reading them and doing the smart, safe, strong thing at the right time,” Burnett said.

The game had an odd start, considering how it ended, as the Spitfires were all over Guelph, outshooting them 15-3 in the opening 10 minutes.

But goaltender Anthony Popovich held down the fort with some excellent saves and it was the Storm scoring first, with Liam Hawel’s top shelf wrister, Guelph’s fourth shot on goal, beating Windsor goaltender Michael DiPietro.

Barret Kirwin also scored for the Storm, a nice backhander from the slot in the second period. Popovich lost his shutout when Curtis Douglas scored with just under five minutes remaining in the third.

“The most important thing is winning. That’s how you have fun and there’s not a lot of smiles in the room when you lose,” Schnarr said.

It was the fifth straight loss for the Spitfires, depleted of most of its stars as it they kick into rebuild mode.

Guelph will face a much tougher foe Sunday when they travel to Kitchener to face the Rangers.