Energy. Emotion. Execution. It was a perfect concoction for success as far as the Guelph Storm was concerned Monday night.
The Storm climbed back into the OHL championship series with a 7-2 win over the Ottawa 67's at a rowdy and raucous sold-out Sleeman Centre.
For Ottawa it was their first loss of the playoffs. They still hold a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 Wednesday in Guelph.
"I think it was was essential that we responded tonight," Storm coach George Burnett said. "The response tonight showed you how much they care and that they want to be part of this final."
Guelph seemed to feed off the energy in the building, as the Sleeman Centre was rocking.
"It's the OHL finals. For the City of Guelph to get behind us like they have, and for us to play in front of a sold-out building, it makes it fun," said Storm forward MacKenzie Entwistle.
The Storm's big boys turned in a big game, as linemates Isaac Ratcliffe and Entwistle each scored twice and the third member of the line Nick Suzuki picking up three assists. Alexey Toropchenko also had a pair of goals and Nate Schnarr had the other.
"I always had the philosophy that you cannot neutralize those guys. You cannot stop those guys," Ottawa coach Andre Tourigny said, speaking of star players in general and Storm centre Suzuki specifically.
"You want to shut down those guys? Good luck. If I knew how, I would make a lot of money. That's not going to happen.
"What's important for us is to limit his time and space and make him work really hard," Tourigny said of Suzuki. "He's not alone. Ratcliffe and Entwistle were really good tonight."
Guelph led 2-1 after the first period and 4-2 after two before polishing it off with three unanswered goals in the third.
Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich made a couple of big saves early, including a breakaway stop on Sasha Chmelevski, but after that had a pretty quiet night. Ottawa had just 12 shots after two periods and 20 on the night.
The game-winning goal came a minute into the second period, with Liam Hawel saucering a nice pass to the net for a streaking Schnarr to redirect past Ottawa goaltender Cedric Andree.
"I think Guelph played a really solid game," Tourigny said. "Our focus was not probably at the right place, but give a lot of credit to them. They played really well, they came out great.
"I think they were the best team on the ice tonight."
The 67's coach was asked if maybe facing some adversity might be a good thing.
"I guess we'll see soon," he deadpanned.
Guelph native Austen Keating said the 67's perhaps got a little too emotional Monday.
"I think for all the guys in our room, I don't think we were there mentally. They got in our heads a lot throughout the game and it showed with a couple of penalties," Keating said. "You never want to give a team like that power plays."
Ottawa defenceman Noel Hoefenmayer became public enemy number one for the Storm fans Monday.
After being checked into the Storm bench, Hoefenmayer punched back-up goalie Nico Daws in the face. Hoefenmayer received a minor penalty on the play.