All the ingredients were there for a big game from the Guelph Storm on Sunday.
The team was well-rested, playing their arch-rival from down the highway, riding a four-game winning streak and the Sleeman Centre was packed for the Teddy Bear Toss game.
But things didn't quite work out as planned.
The Storm was hammered 10-3 by the Kitchener Rangers in front of 4,536 fans, turning in an absolute stinker of a game.
“Not a good day,” said Storm coach George Burnett in delivering the understatement of the season.
“To play that way with a great crowd, you’re playing against your number one rival and that’s not an acceptable effort on our part. I’m responsible. I’ll take the heat for that one,” Burnett said.
“We looked tired and sluggish … to lay an egg like we did, you don’t want to see that at all.”
The last time Guelph surrendered 10 goals was Nov. 13, 2015, to London. They gave up 11 to Mississauga early in 2016.
“They were faster, they were quicker and they won every loose puck,” the Storm coach said.
There would be no finger pointing after this one. Nobody played particularly well, although Burnett did make mention of the positive strides he sees Mason Primeau making.
"He was one of the few bright spots today," Burnett said.
There were turnovers galore, very few puck battles won and both goaltenders saw their goals-against average take a beating.
“The turnovers today were massive in all areas,” Burnett said. “A good team’s not going to let you off the hook and they’re a good team.”
Guelph trailed 3-0 after the first period then got a bit of momentum when Primeau brought the teddy bears down with a goal 2:40 into the second period.
But the 15-minute delay cleaning up the bears put a wet blanket on any momentum, then Kitchener’s Adam Liska scored 66 seconds after play resumed to restore Kitchener’s three-goal lead.
Cole Carter led the Rangers with a hat trick. Ryan Merkley and Givani Smith each had a goal and an assist for Guelph.
The bad news didn't end on the scoreboard. Storm forward Isaac Ratcliffe left the rink on crutches to go get checked out at hospital after taking a hard shot off the inside of his foot in the second period. The full extent of the injury is not yet known.
“It doesn’t look good,” Burnett said.
The Storm will wap up the pre-Christmas portion of its season next weekend, hosting Kingston Friday night, Sault Ste. Marie Saturday afternoon then playing in Oshawa Sunday afternoon.