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Poppy blossoms as Guelph Storm forces Game 5 (6 photos)

Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich stands on his head in a 4-3 win to keep the Storm's season alive
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There was never any doubt in the mind of Guelph Storm coach George Burnett about who was going to start in goal against the London Knights Wednesday night.

Starter Anthony Popovich had a rough night in Game 3 and some felt with the season on the line Burnett would go to backup Nico Daws in Game 4 against the London Knights.

Guelph trailed the best-of-seven series 3-0 and needed to 'shake things up,' right?

The thought never crossed Burnett's mind.

Popovich got the start and responded by turning in a brilliant 39-save performance as the Storm downed the Knights 4-3 at the Sleeman Centre.

"There was no choice for me, it was simple," said Burnett.

"Poppy's worked hard and he deserved to be there. I never thought twice about it," said the Storm coach, adding that Popovich was "probably the difference in the game tonight."

Game 5 goes in London Friday night.

"I just felt good," said Popovich of his huge night. "I had a good warm-up before the game. I had a good nap. I did the right things to prepare."

Popovich said a comeback in the series starts with one game and they got that.

"We're just doing it for the guys in the room who are moving on next year. They don't want their season to be over. We're doing it for them and we're doing it for Guelph."

This one was a thriller.

Nate Schnarr's goal early in the first period gave the Storm its first lead of the series and twice they held two-goal leads, including a 3-1 margin heading into the third period.

But a goal by London's Billy Moskal 12 seconds into the third made it a one-goal game before the Storm's Liam Hawel banged home the eventual game winner at 14:34 of the third period.

Hawel's initial shot was blocked by a Knights defenceman and came right back to Hawel, who put it past goaltender Jordan Kooy.

London made it 4-3 on a power play goal with 4:42 left in regulation, setting up an edge-of-your-seat finish for the 4,034 in attendance, but Popovich stood tall, Schnarr won some big faceoffs and the Storm held on.

Schnarr had two goals and Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists for Guelph.

Even the guy that netted the game winner was full of praise for Popovich.

"He was huge for us tonight," said Hawel.

"Without him they could have had another seven goals. He made some huge stops in big moments that kind of changed the momentum for us and then when we scored and were up he made some big saves for us," Hawel said.

Game 6, if necessary, goes Saturday night in Guelph.



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