SAGINAW - Was it in or wasn't it?
The OHL video review crew in Toronto said it wasn't and that's all that matters.
A key video review of a play midway through the second period of Game 1 of the Western Conference final might have played a key role in the Guelph Storm's 7-2 loss to the Saginaw Spirit Thursday.
With Guelph trailing 3-2, Storm forward Alexey Toropchenko cut in from a sharp angle and got a shot away that was partially stopped by Saginaw goaltender Ivan Prosvetov. The puck came down on the Saginaw goal line and Toropchenko thought he had scored.
The referee thought otherwise and the play went down to the other end of the ice where Saginaw scored.
The play underwent a lengthy video review and the play as called on the ice stood.
What could have been a 3-3 game was now a 4-2 game.
"I think it might have been a turning point had it been a goal," Storm coach George Burnett said.
"At 3-3 I think we have a much different mindset. But there's a process, it was reviewed and called no goal. So we go on, we push on. Certainly our response after that wasn't particularly strong," Burnett said.
The questionable call aside, Guelph was clearly outplayed by the Spirit on Thursday.
Other than the opening shift, when the Storm went up 1-0 on an Isaac Ratcliffe goal, the Spirit controlled the play all night.
It was 1-1 after 20 minutes, then Saginaw blew it open with five goals in the second period.
Guelph, coming off an emotional Game 7 against London two nights ago, made more mistakes in two periods than they did in the last four games of the London series.
"We weren't a very good team tonight. They were hungry, they out-hustled us for most pucks and out-battled us for most pucks and territory," Burnett said. "We probably got what we deserved."
Saginaw coach Chris Lazary said his team wanted to take advantage of a potential emotional letdown the Storm might be experiencing.
"They just came off an emotional Game 7 win. We knew how hard it would be for them and get out playing. It was a huge opportunity for our group," Lazary said.
How bad was it? Anthony Popovich, outstanding in net for the Storm of late, got the hook after two periods and six goals. Defenceman Jack Hanley, the team's best defensive defenceman the past four games, was a minus-5.
"In the playoffs, the most important thing is a short memory," said Storm defenceman Sean Durzi. "They outworked us, they outbattled us and they deserved the win."
Game 2 goes Saturday night in Saginaw.