A couple of struggling elements in the Guelph Storm arsenal rose to the occasion Friday night, as strong goaltending and a strong penalty kill were the key elements in a 4-2 win over the Erie Otters at the Sleeman Centre.
The penalty kill, dead last in the league pretty much all season, killed off six of seven Erie Power plays, including a lengthy five on three in the third period.
Goaltender Jacob Oster, whose season has been a roller coaster, was excellent between the pipes, making 27 saves.
It was a lunchbucket win that the Storm earned the hard way in a grind-it-out affair.
"It's a good win and it's a character win for us," said Storm coach Chad Wiseman.
"A good character win and some great leadership out there today. Plus I thought our attention to detail was strong.
Wiseman gave props to the team's much-maligned penalty kill.
"We've struggled for sure, but I thought we got that extra save from Oster. I thought he was excellent tonight."
Jake Murray was the surprising hero on offence.
The overage defenceman set up Max Namestnikov's tying goal at 13:38 of the third period then scored the winner with 1:59 left in regulation when his hard shot hit something in front of the Erie net and found its way behind goaltender Nolan Lalonde.
Cam Allen iced things with an empty netter.
"It doesn't happen too often," Murray said with a laugh of his two-point period.
"Those are definitely feel-good wins for sure. Not our best start (Guelph trailed 2-0 early) by any means, but Ozzie (Oster) held it down back there. He saved a couple of odd-man rushes and really kept us in that game.
"When you see your goalie playing like that back there it provides a lot of energy for the bench and helps us turn things around."
Murray said the team has had its fair share of bad luck and bad bounces this year, so it was nice to see one go Guelph's way, in reference to the winner that seemed to hit a skate.
Murray also took note of the improved effort on the penalty kill.
"It gives us some confidence to be really aggressive out there," he said. "There's nothing harder than an aggressive penalty kill because it makes you make three or four really good passes to score."
Danny Zhilkin had Guelph's other goal for the Storm, who had Braeden Bowman back in the lineup after missing 13 games with an injury.
Guelph hosts the Kitchener Rangers Saturday night at 7 p.m.