MISSISSAUGA — Injuries are a part of sport, but when you have four players injured, including three of your top playes, it can be a challenge.
The Guelph Storm rose to that challenge Wednesday, downing the Mississauga Steelheads 3-1 at the Paramount Centre in a school day game that started at 11 a.m.
The fact the team rose to the occasion had coach George Burnett feeling the win was one of the most satisfying of the team's 14 so far this season.
"I thought today was one of the most rewarding days that we've had this year. Everyone elevated, competed hard from start to finish ... It was a terrific road win against a team that was hungry to play today," Burnett said.
Some players stepped out of the shadows and turned in rock solid performances, namely Luka Profaca, Clark Hiebert and Owen Bennett, who made 39 saves in a rare start in net.
"Today put a lot of other guys in the spotlight and I thought they responded," the coach said. "They should be proud of their effort and I know I'm proud of them."
Missing Wednesday were minute-eating defenceman Fedor Gordeev (lower body), second-line centre Cedric Ralph (upper body), captain Cam Hillis (upper body) and defenceman Zack Terry (lower body).
Burnett said Hillis and Terry are both likely to return this weekend, but Gordeev and Ralph are unlikely to return before the Christmas break.
The Storm also loses Daniil Chayka on Monday as he leaves to join Team Russia to play in the World Junior A Challenge in British Columbia.
"When you look at the minutes that the guys play that are out of the lineup, some of them are 20 and 30 minute-a-game guys, somebody has to do it and I thought collectively as a group we really stepped up today," Burnett said.
Guelph got a second period goal from Matt Papais to open the scoring, then a Daniil Chayka power play goal made it 2-0 early in the third.
Mississauga's Richard Whittaker made it a 2-1 game midway through the third, but Eric Uba iced it with an empty net goal.
Guelph gave starting goaltender Nico Daws the day off Wednesday and Bennett stepped in and did an excellent job.
Not lost on him is the fact that when he is on his game, he plays a lot like Daws.
"Yeah, of course. Nico's a very confident in his movements and when I'm on my game I can always feel that I've got a little more pep and confidence to my game," Bennett said.
Having a busy game helped him stay focused.
"You never get those down times where you get cold. You always stay hot and ready," he said. "But everyone elevated today. It feels good to get back in the win column after a tough loss in Hamilton."
Guelph hosts the Saginaw Spirit on Friday night.