LONDON — It’s been almost four years since Cedric Ralph dropped the gloves and fought.
He was a 16-year-old rookie when he took on Sam Duchesne of the Flint Firebirds. It didn’t go that well, the Guelph Storm forward admits.
But he answered the bell Tuesday night in London, jumping in to fight the much bigger Hunter Skinner in the second period with Guelph trailing 1-0 after the Knights defenceman levelled teammate Ben McFarlane.
The fight seemed to spark the Storm as they rallied to down the Knights 3-1 at Budweiser Gardens.
“That was the play of the game right there,” said McFarlane.
“I didn’t think twice,” Ralph said of stepping in against Skinner, who is five inches taller. “I saw Benny took a little bit of a hit and our whole team has each other’s backs. I’d know he’d do the same for me.”
The win snapped London’s 10-game winning streak.
Guelph scored all three of its goals in the third period.
McFarlane tied the game at 7:28 with a shorthanded wrist shot over Brett Brochu’s glove, then Ralph set up Eric Uba in the slot for the one-timer with 1:05 left in regulation for the winning goal.
Uba would ice it with an empty netter.
McFarlane had nothing but praise for the way Ralph jumped in after he got levelled on the hit by Skinner.
“I was saying to the guys, I thought it was the turning point. It shows that we respect one another and that we’d take a punch in the face for one another,” McFarlane said.
“I respect him for that. I love him like a brother for that.”
Guelph looked awful early on, not registering a shot until almost 12 minutes into the game.
But Nico Daws, showing his early-season form, held them in it and they started playing much better in the second period before dominating the Knights in the third, outshooting them 21-8.
“It just shows you the resilience we have to bounce back like that,” McFarlane said.
Storm coach George Burnett
“We looked like we didn’t deserve to be on the ice with them in the first period. We looked like we were standing around waiting for something bad to happen,” Burnett said.
“But we stayed with it, Daws made some real solid saves and we got a little better in the second period … in the third period we just stayed with it.”
The coach also recognized the impact Ralph’s defending of McFarlane energized the team.
“Give Cedric a lot of credit there. I think Ben took a high hit … and to see him respond like that was big,” Burnett said.
Burnett was also impressed with how the scoring and chances came from players other than the big two — Cam Hillis and Pavel Gogolev, who were both held off the scoresheet.
The Storm played Tuesday’s game without defenceman Martin Hăs, who was sick.
Guelph hosts the Owen Sound Attack on Friday, play in Flint on Saturday, then host Sault Ste. Marie in a 2 p.m. game on Family Day.