HALIFAX – Not this time.
The comeback kids ran out of miracles Friday night in Halifax, as the Guelph Storm was eliminated from the Memorial Cup with a 6-4 loss in the semifinal to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
They went down fighting. They went down scrapping. They almost didn't go down at all.
But in the end they couldn't muster the one goal they needed to tie the game with the goalie pulled and a playoff run for the ages came to an end as the Huskies iced it with an empty-netter.
Rouyn-Noranda will now face the Halifax Mooseheads Sunday in a rematch of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League final.
Twice the Storm held one-goal leads and twice the Huskies tied it up.
It was 3-3 heading into the third period and a Storm team that has shown an ability to rise to the occasion so many times was confident they would on this night too.
But some aggressive forechecking by the Huskies, and some subsequent turnovers by the Storm in its own end, led to a pair of goals by the Huskies' Felix Bibeau to make it 5-3, the second one coming with 7:27 left in regulation.
Isaac Ratcliffe, with the goalie pulled, made it 5-4 with 1:13 left and the Storm had several good chances to tie it up, but couldn't put another one past Samuel Harvey.
"It sucks. A lot," said Storm defenceman Jack Hanley.
"But I couldn't be more proud of this group. We came together when nobody thought we could. We heard we were going to be beat out by Kitchener in the first round and we're sitting here in May now.
"We're OHL champions and third in the country isn't too bad when you look back on it," Hanley said.
Hanley said some loose defensive zone coverage played a role in the loss.
"They were the better team tonight. It kind of sucks the way it had to end, but I'm very proud of everybody," said Dom Commisso. "It sucks the way it ended, but it is what it is."
Sean Durzi, eyes full of tears, called it was "an unbelievable season."
"I love every one of those guys in that dressing room," Durzi said. "To go through what we went through, to win an OHL championship and to come here...." he said, his voice trailing off.
"It's going to be tough to get over," Durzi said. "It was a pleasure to play with every one of those guys."
"We had our chances," said captain Isaac Ratcliffe.
"We battled so hard tonight, those last 10 minutes we were all over them but unfortunately we couldn't pot one earlier."
Ratcliffe said it's hard to accept it's all over.
"About a thousand things run through my mind. It's hard to soak in right now," he said.
Storm coach George Burnett said the last nine weeks have been "quite a ride," with more ups than downs.
"I didn't think we were at our best tonight. Give them credit. Behind our blue line I thought they were a little stronger than we were."
Burnett said he was "so proud" of the way the team worked to get this far.
"It's been a lot of fun. They're a quality group of young guys that should be very proud of their efforts throughout the playoffs and here in the tournament. They represented the city well and our league, but it is a little disappointing to come up short in the final."
Burnett said the team felt good going into the third period, given that they were tied heading into the third period despite not playing that well in the first 40 minutes.
"A couple of breakdowns and they made us pay and we had to fight back at the end," Burnett said.
Huskies coach Mario Pouliot said his team played its best game of the tournament.
"We found our rhythm," Pouliot said.
"I'm really happy with the win, but most importantly with the way we played the full 60 minutes."