KITCHENER - Givani Smith claimed it was just another game.
Another game in his new team’s schedule, but the first one against his former teammates.
Smith, traded by the Guelph Storm to the Kitchener Rangers at the trade deadline for three second round draft picks, had a goal and an assist Sunday to help his new team beat Guelph 4-2 at The Aud.
“Just another game,” said Smith, who played 187 games in a Storm jersey.
“It’s nice seeing the guys I used to play with just a couple of weeks ago, but for me it’s just a hockey game.
“I’ve been here a couple of weeks now and the guys have really been making me feel like I fit in. I feel like I’ve been here the whole season.”
He did have a ‘Guelph moment,’ when Isaac Ratcliffe scored for Guelph in the third period.
“When Ratcliffe scored and you hear the name on the board, you think ‘oh, we just scored,’ but it’s the other team that scored,” Smith said.
Smith hammered one home on a one timer from the slot in the second period then almost scored on a breakaway in the third, picking up an assist when teammate Eric Guest poked home the rebound.
He was also willing to mix it up physically with his old teammates.
“I’ve to to play it hard. I’m a physical player and I’m not going to let up on certain players that I know. I play a physical game out there and that’s what I’m here to do,” Smith said.
Smith said there is a noticeable difference to the vibe in the Rangers dressing room than the one he was used to in Guelph.
“Yeah. A real different vibe. It’s a bunch of older guys, drafted guys and signed guys, and we’ve all been to pro camps and played pro games. It’s like an NHL atmosphere,” Smith said.
He wears jersey number 54 for the Rangers after wearing number 24 in Guelph for three years.
“I wanted to keep the 4,” he said. “I don’t want to forget Guelph all the way,” he said.
Sunday’s loss snapped Guelph’s three-game winning streak.
The Storm played an energetic, hard-working contest but were done in by turnovers and penalties.
All four Rangers goals were the direct result of turnovers by Storm players.
“I liked our energy and I thought Poppy (Anthony Popovich) was outstanding in net today and gave us a great opportunity. But every time we gained momentum we made a massive turnover and gave it right back to them,” said Storm coach George Burnett.
“All four of their goals were huge turnovers by not managing the puck the right way and you can’t do that against good teams.”
Trailing 3-1, Ratcliffe made it 3-2 midway through the third period and it looked like the Storm might have a good chance at tying the game on the power play with just under five minutes left.
But the Storm turned it over at the Kitchener blueline, leading to Smith’s breakaway that Guest eventually polished off to make it 4-2.
Guelph native Connor Bunnaman scored what would be the winning goal in the second period, stripping the puck from Garrett McFadden and firing one past a surprised Popovich.
Gueph plays three-in-three this weekend: Flint at home Friday, in Owen Sound Saturday and in London on Sunday.