LONDON — It might have been close on the scoreboard, but the reality of Friday's Game 1 between the Guelph Storm and London Knights was a little different.
The Knights took the opening game of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal 3-2 at Budweiser Gardens, but it really wasn't as close a game as the score would indicate.
Other than an energized final 10 minutes of the game, brought on by a MacKenzie Entwistle goal that made it a one-goal game, the night belonged to London and the Storm knows it.
"The score was very kind to us tonight. We got what we deserved," said Storm coach George Burnett.
"They played with pace and we didn't have the puck. We didn't start with it, we didn't win enough face-offs and we chased the game for the first 48 minutes," Burnett said.
London won 40 face-offs and Guelph 29.
"They played with bigger pace and were more ready to play than we were and that's my responsibility, it's on me, and we're going to be better Sunday."
Game 2 is Sunday afternoon in London.
Burnett said the team didn't spend much time in London's zone, made some poor decisions on dump-ins and didn't get much second man support when there was a puck battle.
"We can pick it apart all we want. We weren't good enough and it showed on the scoreboard," Burnett said.
Storm captain Isaac Ratcliffe echoed his coach's sentiments.
"We weren't prepared tonight. They came out and outworked us right from the start of the game," said Ratcliffe.
"We showed a little life in the third, but definitely not enough to get past a team like that."
London jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Liam Foudy and Josh Nelson, the latter a shorthanded penalty shot.
Owen Lalonde's power play goal early in the second made it 2-1 but the Knights' Kevin Hancock replied with a power play goal midway through the second period, a power play that came courtesy of a retaliatory slash by Guelph's Nick Suzuki.
Entwistle's tally made for a thrilling finish and the Storm had a few chances in the waning moments, but in the end they got the loss they probably deserved.
Anthony Popovich was rock solid in the Storm net as London outshot Guelph 39-24.
Ratcliffe said London is a bigger and faster team than the Kitchener squad they swept in the first round.
"They're a lot stronger and a lot faster and they stick to their game plan a lot more. We weren't fully prepared in the way we needed to be," Ratcliffe said.
Game 2 goes Sunday afternoon in London.
Games 3 and 4 are in Guelph on Monday and Wednesday.