The Guelph Storm continues to be a different team at home this season compared to on the road.
The Storm gave the country’s top-ranked Sarnia Sting all they could handle Sunday at the Sleeman Centre before falling 4-3 in overtime.
At home this season Guelph has a 7-2-1-1 record. On the road they are 3-7-0-1.
“Playing at home, the guy’s get amped up, especially the young kids, hearing your home fans cheering,” said the Storm’s Liam Hawel, who had two assists in Sunday’s loss.
“Going into those other buildings, like Kitchener and London, it’s kind of intimidating at first for young guys I think they get a little star gazing at first,” Hawel said. “It comes with time.”
Guelph has outscored their opponents 42-30 at home. On the road they have been outscored 53-31.
Storm coach George Burnett said there are several reasons for the discrepancy in home and away results.
“Inexperience. Leadership. Lack of winning experience in our room. Lots of different things,” Burnett said.
“We’re a young, inexperienced team from the standpoint that we don’t have a lot of guys in our room that have had success and it clearly shows.”
Burnett said the team has also been able to have good starts at the Sleeman Centre and get early leads, something it hasn’t been able to do on the road.
“If we’re going to be considered a good team and a playoff team, we’ve got to learn a lot about playing on the road,” the coach said. “Simplifying our game and not getting into track meets with teams in their building.”
Sunday’s contest was a thoroughly entertaining and well-played affair.
Twice the Storm came back to tie the game, the second time when Ryan Merkley made it 3-3 with a goal from the slot at 13:34 of the third period.
In overtime the Storm ended up with three tired players on the ice, including James McEwan who had just taken a shot off the ankle.
Sarnia circled the Storm zone, maintaining puck possession, before Adam Ruzicka came off the Sarnia bench with a pair of fresh legs and fired a wrist shot past Anthony Popovich in the Storm net at 2:57 of overtime.
Isaac Ratcliffe and Garrett Mcfadden had Guelph’s other goal.
The Storm’s Nate Schnarr missed his third straight game with a lower body injury. Zach Poirier returns from his 10-game suspension on Friday.
Mason Primeau faces possible suspension for engaging in a pre-arranged fight with Sarnia’s Sean Josling, a spirited affair in the second period that was just the second fight this season by a Guelph player.
The Storm faces another tough weekend next week, with home games against Barrie on Friday and London on Sunday sandwiched around a trip to Owen Sound.