KITCHENER – The scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story in the Guelph Storm’s season opener Friday night.
While a 6-5 overtime road loss to the Kitchener Rangers certainly left a sour taste, there were definitely more positives than negatives in the Storm’s first real game in 577 days.
“We can’t fault the effort,” said Storm coach George Burnett.
“It’s a pretty new experience for a lot of guys, coming into a big building and I think we were in a bit of awe, but we got to work and had our opportunities to win."
After falling behind 2-0 the Storm rallied and made it a back and forth affair on the scoreboard, while holding a 37-23 shot advantage.
But some sloppy turnovers and a less-than-stellar opening night performance by goaltender Owen Bennett, including mishandling the puck behind his own net leading to a Rangers goal, proved their undoing.
Declan McDonnell was credited with the winning goal a 2:27 of overtime, a goal that came when Bennett made a save on the initial shot but had the puck dislodged by sliding teammate Danny Zhilkin, who slid into the net with the puck.
After a lengthy video review, it was called a goal.
Matt Poitras, the Storm’s first round pick in 2020, had a pair of goals to continue his hot pre-season performance that saw him lead the team in scoring.
Linemate Jake Karabela had a goal and two assists. Braeden Bowman and Ben McFarlane had the other Guelph goals.
“It was great to get that first one,” Poitras said. “It was a broken play where it hit me in the chest, then I shot it. I didn’t even know it went in at first, but the red light went on.
“It was always a dream of mine to score in the OHL and to get that first one was great to get the first one in the first game.”
The line of Poitras, Karabela and Bowman accounted for seven points. Just as impressive was that Poitras and Karabela were plus-3 on the night and Bowman was a plus-4.
“We had lots of pucks on net, lots of pucks down low, and everybody came together as a team when we got down 2-0,” Poitras said of the positives on the night.
“We got the point, but we wanted the win.”
Kitchener led 2-0 after the first period and it was tied 4-4 heading into the third.
Roman Schmidt put Kitchener up 5-4 2:28 into the third, then Bowman tied it with a wrister from the slot at 10:47.
The same two teams meet Saturday night at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph’s home opener. Game time is 7 p.m.
New provincial regulations announced earlier Friday will allow for full capacity in OHL rinks beginning Saturday. But because of the short turnaround in getting enough staff at the rink, Guelph will go with capacity of 3,500 for Saturday night’s home opener. Meaning 1,000 extra seats are on sale (the 2,500 capacity was sold out),
Fans are urged to arrive early, as proof of vaccination and identification will have to be shown before entry.