The Guelph Storm should have been celebrating a pretty gutsy win in Hamilton Saturday afternoon, instead they were worrying about the health of one of their teammates.
Guelph beat the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-3 in overtime for their fifth win in a row, but lost overage defenceman Jack Hanley in the second period to a serious ankle injury.
Hanley went down awkwardly into the end boards while going for a loose puck and had to be eventually helped off the ice. He went to hospital for further evaluation.
"It's not good," said Storm coach George Burnett.
"I don't want to speculate right now. They're concerned whether it could be a high ankle sprain or whether it could be a fracture, we just don't know yet.
"He's getting some pictures taken hopefully today and we'll know a little more in a day or two, but that's a huge loss," Burnett said.
The Storm, already shorthanded on defence with the trade of Ryan Merkley and the loss of Dmitri Samorukov to the World Juniors, played the last half of the game with three defencemen, one of them rookie Daniil Chayka, as Burnett was hesitant to put the other two 16-year-old rookies, Luka Profaca and Zack Terry, into such a tight contest.
"It certainly puts a big strain on our back end. We've got to get to work here and find somebody and if we have to find two, we will," Burnett said.
Guelph never trailed in the game and won it at 1:51 of overtime when Hamilton defenceman Nicolas Mattinen made an ill-advised behind-the-back pass in his own end that was intercepted by the Storm's Pavel Gogolev, who wristed it past goaltender Zach Roy for the game winner.
Gogolev also had three assists in the game.
Barret Kirwin, Nate Schnarr and Alexey Toropchenko had Guelph's other goals and Anthony Popovich was rock solid for the second straight night, making 34 saves.
"It was a pretty gritty win. I thought we were a whole lot better tonight than we were last night," Burnett said. "Some of the mistakes we're making are tired mistakes but to get two points today, especially with Jack going down, was pretty good."
Guelph plays in Owen Sound Wednesday night. Friday they're home to Windsor.