There aren't many bigger supporters of Guelph Storm winger Cedric Ralph than the guy standing behind him on the bench.
Coach George Burnett is always quick to sing the praises of the speedy Ralph, even when he struggles on the scoresheet.
So when Ralph started to emerge as one of the better players in Monday's Game 3 against the Saginaw Spirit at the Sleeman Centre, it didn't take Burnett long to reward him with more ice time.
Ralph responded by scoring the game-winning goal early in the third period as the Storm scored three unanswered goals in the final period to down the Spirit 5-2 before a crowd of 4,698.
Saginaw still leads the best-of-seven series 2-1 with Game 4 set for Wednesday night in Guelph.
"I was just confident I was getting the chances," said Ralph, a 21-goal scorer in the regular season.
"It definitely boosts your confidence and I think it boosts the confidence of our team when you work hard and get rewarded with ice time. But we've got a deep team so whoever's out there on the ice we're confident in."
Ralph also had an assist Monday, recording his first two points in 14 playoff games.
He wasn't the only one to break out of a slump. Zach Roberts opened the scoring with his first goal in 13 games and Nate Schnarr scored his first goal in six games.
"We're a whole lot more difficult when we've got four lines kicking in goals, that's for sure," Burnett said.
"Ceddy doesn't concern me any night," the Storm coach added. "I know what I'm going to get every day. I get it every day in practice and the team gets it each and every day regardless of the circumstances and it's nice to see him be rewarded for his hard work both on and off the ice."
Earlier in the day the Spirit found out that star goaltender Ivan Prosvetov was suspended for five games for batting the puck into the crowd during a stop in play during Game 2 and overage defenceman Justin Murray was banned for four games for a hit to the head of Guelph's MacKenzie Entwistle.
They also lost defenceman Mason Millman early in the game with an apparent injury.
Prosvetov's suspension put 16-year-old goaltender Tristan Lennox in the spotlight. The Cambridge native was superb, making 41 saves in the game.
"I'm not really a player that usually gets nervous. I was just taking it as another game, really," Lennox said.
"I took it as a great opportunity to get in there and just try to do my best."
Saginaw coach Chris Lazary wouldn't comment on the suspensions following the game. Nor would he comment on Millman's injury.
Lazary called Lennox "a hidden gem in this league" who was more than capable of helping the Spirit win this series.
"We have zero issues with our goaltending," he said.
Lazary accurately pointed out that Saginaw got most of its 22 shots from the perimeter.
"We've got to find a way to break out of our zone better and get around the net more," Lazary said. "I think our compete is here, but we've got to find a way to get inside, get some more traffic and secondary chances and opportunities."
Game time Wednesday is 7 p.m.