A year ago, Anthony Popovich might not have been around for the second period of a game like the one Friday night at the Sleeman Centre.
But despite allowing three first period goals to the Barrie Colts, Popovich settled down and was rock solid the rest of the way as the Storm rallied to beat the Barrie Colts 5-
The win snapped
Cedric Ralph won it, taking a sweet backhand saucer pass from Ryan Merkley at the blueline and breaking in on Colts goaltender Leo Lazarev before beating him with a backhand.
Popovich made 40 saves, several of them spectacular.
“I think honestly, some of their goals were a bit lucky,” said Popovich, whose team trailed 3-1 at one point.
“I tried not to blame myself for those goals and then the team bailed us out of it by scoring some big goals.”
Popovich agreed that three early goals probably would have gotten in his head a little bit last season.
“Yeah, probably. It still does,” he said. “Three goals is never good, but you have to bounce back and fortunately we did tonight.
Storm coach George Burnett said Popovich rebounded well from that tough start.
“He was good, for sure,” Burnett said. ”He was cool and he didn’t get flustered after a tough start.
“We maybe didn’t help him out as much as we needed to, but he gave us a chance and that’s what you need your top goaltender to do.”
While it was far from picture perfect hockey, it sure was entertaining for fans, with lots of end-to-end action and odd-man rushes.
Cam Hillis had a big night, scoring twice on the power play, and Isaac Ratcliffe finished with a goal and two assists.
Zach Poirier also returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a suspension.
Guelph trailed 4-3 heading into the third period before Barret Kirwin’s sharp-angled wrist shot somehow found its way through Lazarev’s pads 1:33 into the period.
That third period also saw a key four-minute penalty kill by the Storm.
“We weren’t very good a lot of times tonight. That’s not a team you can trade chances with … but it’s good to win,” Burnett said.
A tough weekend gets even tougher Saturday night as the Storm travels to
Sunday afternoon the Storm is back home to face the London Knights.