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Guelph Storm comes up short in overtime after spectacular comeback

Down 4-0 early, Storm scores five unanswered goals against Rangers to force overtime

It might not have been very good hockey at the Sleeman Centre Tuesday night, but it sure was entertaining hockey.

The Guelph Storm fell behind 4-0 in the first period before a snoozer turned into a thriller when Guelph scored five unanswered goals to take a 5-4 lead late into the third period, only to lose 6-5 in overtime to the Kitchener Rangers.

Nick McHugh won the game 1:39 into extra time, picking up a loose puck near the Rangers blue line then racing down the ice to beat Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich with a backhander.

“It was good for us to come back. It teaches us next year, when hopefully we’re in the running, that we can come back in games like that and we can compete as opposed to just packing it in,” said the Storm’s Nic Sicoly.

The Storm got a talking to after a dreadful first period that saw them trailing 4-1.

“The leaders have to step up and lead by example. I always say actions speak louder than words and our actions spoke pretty loudly tonight,” Sicoly said.

Isaac Ratcliffe, with his second of the game, had put the Storm up 5-4 with 2:38 left in the third period, redirecting a Garrett McFadden shot past Luke Opilka.

But the Rangers tied it with 1:34 left in regulation when Guelph native Connor Bunnaman took an errant shot that ricocheted off the end boards and stuffed it by Popovich on the short side.

Matt Hotchkiss, Cedric Ralph and Ryan Merkley had the other Storm goals.

“We had to say something after that first period because that was probably the worst 20 minutes we’ve seen all year … that was just an ugly 20 minutes,” Storm coach Jarrod Skalde said.

“You start caring a little bit about yourself a little self respect, because we sure didn’t see any in the first period.”

Skalde decided to stick with Popovich despite the four goals in the first period because he felt they weren’t really his fault.

“I wanted to make sure that he understood and the group understood that I felt that two or three of those goals were directly related to forwards and defence, it wasn’t necessarily on him,” Skalde said.

“I wanted to give him an opportunity to fight through that and I thought he did a good job.”

Guelph has a three-game weekend to wrap up its season, hosting Sarnia Friday night, playing in Erie on Saturday night, then ending with a Sunday night home game against Owen Sound.