It's been a while since Guelph Storm forward Jacob Maillet has beamed the kind of smile he carried into the locker room Sunday at the Sleeman Centre.
The 18-year-old Dundas native scored twice in a 7-3 victory over the Erie Otters, helping the Storm sweep all three of its weekend games and moving them to within three points of the conference-leading London Knights.
Maillet had gone scoreless in the Storm's first 20 games this season. In fact his scoreless streak stretched back to the final 14 games of the 2019-2020 season: 34 games in total.
"It's amazing. It's nice to contribute offensively and the boys had a great weekend. It's always nice to win three out of three," Maillet said after Sunday's win.
Players will usually tell you they don't think much about their goal totals. But when you're in a long dry spell, it's hard not to.
"It's been in my head probably all year, so it was nice to get the monkey off my back today for sure," Maillet said.
"The guys have been on me a little bit and I just tell them it's coming soon, so it was nice to see it finally happen."
While he hasn't scored, he has been playing regularly and contributing in other ways, something other lower-scoring players have also done.
"Everyone here has a big role on this team so it's nice to contribute what you can."
Sunday's game saw a couple of tired teams playing perhaps a step slower than they usually might, given they played less than 24 hours earlier four hours away in Erie.
It was 1-1 until the final five minutes of the first period, when Guelph scored twice to take a lead that was never really challenged the rest of the way.
Matt Poitras, Cooper Walker, Daniil Chayka, Chase Coughlan and Danny Zhilkin had the other Guelph goals, with 14 Storm players recording at least one point. Jake Karabela and Matt Papais each had two assists.
Owen Bennett made 20 saves in the Guelph net while Marshall Nicholls started in net for Erie before being replaced by Nolan Lalonde after allowing five goals.
"Coming to the rink every day you've got to come with the mindset of 'we're going to win' even if you're super tired, and that's what we did this weekend," Maillet said.
One of the more surprising stats from the three-win weekend is that they did it without any goals from leading scorer Sasha Pastujov, who had scored in eight straight games before this weekend.
The Storm payed without Ben McFarlane, who received an automatic two-game suspension for his five-minute slew footing major in Erie Saturday.
Zach Sandhu saw his first OHL action on the Storm blueline. Sandhu was a seventh round pick in this year's draft and has been playing junior B with the Ayr Centennials.
The Storm hits the road this week for games in Sault Ste. Marie on Friday night and Saginaw Saturday. Next home game is Wednesday, Dec. 8, when Sarnia visits.