KITCHENER – George Burnett isn’t about to push the overage panic button on his Guelph Storm.
Choosing to leave the team’s three overage spots vacant to start the season and let the younger players develop, Burnett knew that could mean a rough early going.
It has been, as Guelph fell to 1-3-1-0 on the season Tuesday with a 4-2 loss to the Kitchener Rangers, its third loss to Kitchener already this season.
“If you look around the league, there’s not a lot of overage players available,” Burnett said when asked if he is considering bringing any in.
“It’s fine to want to have one or two, I’d love to have one or two veteran guys to help our young players here. There’s just not anyone available at this point in time that makes a lot of sense for us.”
Guelph has three extra players, with Jakob MacRae and Chase Coughlan (injured) yet to dress and import Leo Hafenrichter having played one game.
Burnett said developing the young players is the key. He isn't adverse to bringing in an overage player, but they have to be the right ones.
“We’re committed to playing our kids and there’s going to be some tough nights because of that.”
Kitchener led 2-0 after the first period on goals by Mitch Martin and Mike Petizian, the latter coming with 49 seconds left in the period.
The second period saw Kitchener control most of the play but not get rewarded, at least until the final 1:06, when Martin and Roman Schmidt both scored similar goals – left all alone in front of Storm netminder Owen Bennett – to give the hosts a 4-0 lead heading into the third.
Cam Allen’s first OHL goal, on the power play, and a nice deke in tight by Matt Papais made it a 4-2 game by the 11:55 mark of the third period, but it was too little too late for Guelph.
Guelph outshot Kitchener 23-21, with Bennett going all the way in net for the Storm.
“That last minute (of the second period) wasn’t good by any stretch, but I thought for the first 40 minutes we didn’t deserve much. We didn’t compete very hard tonight and it showed,” Burnett said.
“We were second to the puck most of the night and they outworked us and deserved to win. I didn’t like our energy at all tonight, that’s my biggest concern.”
With an unbalanced schedule, Guelph plays Kitchener 10 times this season.
“Whether it’s them or London or Owen Sound, there’s so many head-to-head matchups that it’s critical to find a way. One point out of three games (against the Rangers) is not nearly good enough.”
Guelph plays in Sarnia on Friday night then hosts Kitchener again Sunday at 2 p.m.