The rumours of Nico Daws' demise were greatly exaggerated.
After a couple of rough outings upon his return from World Juniors duty, the Guelph Storm netminder has clearly returned to pre-Christmas form.
Healthy, playing regularly and confident, Daws is once again providing the kind of goaltending that made him the OHL's best goaltender in the first half of the season.
Friday night at the Sleeman Centre he recorded his fifth shutout of the season, leading the Storm to a 2-0 win over the Owen Sound Attack on a night that saw Guelph outshot 40-14.
"I definitely feel like myself again finally," Daws said after the win. "I'm getting my confidence going, I've gained the weight I lost while I was away. I just feel like myself again."
He had the first star honour wrapped up by the end of the second period.
"It's been a while since I've had that many shots. Well, I guess Tuesday," he said on second thought, remembering his 37 saves against London.
"I like lots of shots, especially in the first period because it kind of helps you get warmed up," Daws said. "When you're not getting as many shots it's kind of hard to get into it, but when you get as many as tonight it's pretty easy to get into it."
Friday's effort lowered his goals-against average to 2.28 and raised his save percentage to .930.
Daws didn't get the one statistic he was hoping for late in the game.
With Owen Sound goaltender Mack Guzda on the bench for the extra attacker Daws played a puck and had a thought of going for goal, but it didn't pan out.
"I wanted it. I was looking for it. I'm still looking for my first goal," said Daws, who lists Mike Smith, the NHL's best puckhandling goaltender, as one of his favourites.
Guelph got the only goal it would need midway through the first period on a Cam Hillis one-timer set up nicely by Fedor Gordeev.
Pavel Gogolev, on a penalty shot late in the second period, provided breathing room.
Storm coach George Burnett wasn't overly thrilled with his team's performance overall.
"There's not a lot I can find in the game except from Nico's effort," Burnett said. "He was big, strong, poised. I thought he did a great job."
He said the team made bad choices throughout the game.
"We've got to figure that out quickly. We can't keep putting that much pressure on our goaltender," Burnett said.
The Storm also lost one of its anchors on the blue line Friday.
Fedor Gordeev was given a game misconduct for a slew foot late in the second period on an icing call and will miss the next two games at least.
Burnett felt the incident happened in part because of a late icing call by the officials.
The Storm is in Flint Saturday night then hosts the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Monday afternoon at 2 p.m.