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Guelph Storm on the verge of sweeping the Rangers (7 photos)

Anthony Popovich makes 37 saves as Kitchener battles, but still can't solve the Storm

Guelph Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich is rising to the occasion.

After an up-and-down regular season, Popovich has been outstanding in the Storm's opening-round playoff series against the Kitchener Rangers, which includes a 37-save performance Tuesday at The Aud in the Storm's 6-3 win.

Guelph, now up 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, will be looking to break out the brooms in Game 4 Thursday in Kitchener.

"You just try to stay in games. Tonight was a bit different, they kind of poured it on early in the first period," said Popovich.

"I knew they were going to come. They're playing desperate. We just had to hold on that first period."

Popovich was at his best in the third, making some brilliant saves with Guelph shorthanded.

He led a penalty kill unit that held Kitchener, who sported the OHL's top power play in the regular season, scoreless on five attempts.

"We knew they had a big power play coming into the series and that was one of our key focus, to just shut them down as best we can," Popovich said.

Guelph has dominated the opening 20 minutes in the first two games of the series, but the Rangers played well early on Tuesday, coming out of the first period tied 1-1 then taking their first lead of the series in the opening minute of the second.

But it was short lived, as Nate Schnarr evened the score 37 seconds later.

The Storm would go on to score four goals in a span of 5:35 in that second period to take control of the game.

The winning goal came off the stick of Alexey Toropchenko after what appeared to be an offside play at the Kitchener blue line. But the play was reviewed and the goal stood.

Nick Suzuki led Guelph with two goals and three points.

Puck possession was the key to Tuesday's win, particularly the Storm's top two lines, who in addition to scoring five of the six goals did a great job of cycling the puck.

"It's important for us to continue to have (puck possession)," Storm coach George Burnett said. "We try and put more pressure on their young defence, but we also keep the puck out of their very talented skilled forwards.

"They played with a lot of urgency, but I thought we got a few breaks tonight, some big blocks and some great saves from Poppy.

"It was great to come out on top tonight, but we had to work for it for sure," Burnett said.


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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