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Guelph Storm's Walker proves his worth beyond goals and assists

But it was nice to get the game-winner in a 3-2 win over the London Knights Friday

Cooper Walker's contribution to the success of the Guelph Storm this season has nothing to do with goals and assists.

He takes big faceoffs, he plays in key defensive situations, his line helps shuts down the other team's big line more nights than not with a grit-and-grind approach that is called on countless time when the coach needs to steady the ship.

But it was still nice to get on the scoresheet for the first time in a while Friday, as Walker scored the winning goal in the third period of a very entertaining 3-2 win over the London Knights at the Sleeman Centre.

"It was good to get one and it was good to get the win," said Walker, who now has two goals in 19 games this season.

"It's always nice when you can contribute offensively, help the team have success as well as shut down the other team's top line. When Ben (McFarlane) and I can both get one in the same game it's fun."

Walker was Johnny-on-the-spot midway through the third period, breaking a 2-2 tie when a goalmouth scramble saw a loose puck come to him with an open net to swat it into.

After that it was circle the wagons, get a couple of huge saves from Owen Bennett, then savour the moment.

The win snapped London's three-game win streak and moved Guelph to within five points of the front-running Knights.

"It's nice for us to win a big game and not have to rely on Sasha (Pastujov) to carry the big load every night," Storm coach George Burnett said.

"Big goals by Cooper and Benny and I thought their line, with (Matt) Papais played really well tonight."

Burnett knows Walker's worth to the team goes well beyond points.

"He's been pressing a little bit, but he has an impact on our game every night, usually in a very positive way, so to see him rewarded for his hard work is a lot of fun for us as coaches and for his teammates. They know how hard he works and how much he cares each and every day."

Walker's linemate Ben McFarlane scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist and Danny Zhilkin, on a nice setup from Cameron Supryka, had Guelph's other goal in a game Guelph led 1-0 after one period and 2-1 after two.

Luke Evangelista scored both London goals, one of them on the power play, and Knights goaltender Brett Brochu was outstanding in a 34-save performance.

"We know that if we work hard and play our game that we can beat anyone in this league," Walker said. "We've just got to keep doing that: sticking to our game."

The Storm played without defenceman Cam Allen, who is off participating in the under-17 Capital City Challenge in Ottawa. Jakob MacRae, who has been primarily with the junior B Ayr Centennials this season, dressed for the third time this season in his absence. Charlie Paquette remains out of the lineup with non-COVID-related illness.

Guelph plays in Erie Saturday night then hosts Erie on Sunday afternoon at the Sleeman Centre. Game time is 2 p.m.


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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