Another game, another injury for the Guelph Storm.
Veteran defenceman Jack Hanley, who already missed 19 games earlier this season with an ankle injury, left Friday's 5-3 loss to the Saginaw Spirit in the first period after tumbling hard into the boards while skating toward a losse puck with an opposing player in hot pursuit.
"I don't think he's great," said coach George Burnett of Hanley's injury, described as "upper body."
He definitely won't play Saturday in Owen Sound and is questionable for Sunday at home against Kitchener.
"That's a big hole for us in the back end when he goes down," Burnett said.
Hanley joins Pavel Gogolev (ankle), Sean Durzi (shoulder), Cam Hillis (collarbone) and Keegan Stevenson (shoulder) on the sidelines.
Of those only Gogolev is close to being ready. He's been practicing with full contact and might play next weekend, Burnett said.
Durzi, Hillis and Stevenson might return at some time during the playoffs depending on their recovery.
Stevenson is playoffs "at best," Burnett said.
"I'd be lying to you if I said it wasn't frustrating, because it is. But we can't make excuses, we just have to find a way to get through it."
It was trench warfare at the Sleeman Centre Friday between the second place Spirit and fourth place Storm.
Small battles all over the ice making up a gritty affair between the Storm and one of the few teams in the conference that match them in size and skating.
"We didn't win near enough of them, I know that," Burnett when asked about the "small battles."
"That was playoff-style hockey and it was a battle all game," said Storm defenceman Owen Lalonde. "I thought we played pretty well, but obviously not well enough.
"We're just going to finish this season strong. We've got five games left and we're going to do what we can and get some momentum going into the playoffs."
The Storm has five games remaining in the regular season, with Kitchener or Owen Sound the likely opponent in the first round of the playoffs.
The Storm fell behind 3-0 by midway through the second period before goals by Liam Hawel and Isaac Ratcliffe brought the crowd of 4,800 to life.
But Saginaw struck in the opening minute of the third period for what would turn out to be the winning goal by former Storm forward Albert Michnac, with Lalonde knocked down behind the Storm net and turning the puck over leading to the goal.
"I'll take that one. That goal was on me. I'm not going to make excuses," Lalonde said. "I should have made a better play."
Owen Tippett iced the game with an empty net goal.
Game time Sunday against Kitchener is a rare 4 p.m. start.