OWEN SOUND - There may be 20 games left in the regular season, but it sure felt like a playoff game at the Bayshore Community Centre Saturday night.
In a rowdy, chippy, intense and loud affair, the Owen Sound Attack downed the Guelph Storm 2-1 in a thoroughly entertaining contest.
“Chippy and definitely a gritty game,” said Guelph Storm captain Garrett McFadden.
“That’s kind of what you get when you play in a smaller barn, things seem to happen quick.”
It was the kind of game the Storm can expect more of down the home stretch as teams jockey for playoff position.
“Yeah, and that’s all we can ask for and it’s going to make us better. If we can continue to get better and learn how to play in these tough games and come out on top, we’ll be the ones making the push instead of the ones getting pushed,” McFadden said.
It was the first time Owen Sound has beaten the Storm in five games this season.
The loss leaves Guelph tied for sixth in the Western Conference standings with the WIndsor Spitfires, three points up on Owen Sound and two points back of fifth-place Saginaw.
“There seemed to be a lot of emotion for some reason,” Storm coach George Burnett said, “but we knew they were going to be fired up.”
“We’ve still got to get to the net more against that hockey club. They make you pay the price and we’ve got to get more people willing to push the middle,” Burnett said.
“We’re still not managing the puck near well enough through the neutral zone,” he said. “Tonight the pace of our game slowed down at the blue line and consequently a lot of turnovers and not much off the rush, which we need to do.”
Rookie goaltender Nico Daws was the star of the game for the Storm.
Seeing his first action in over three weeks, Daws was the reason Guelph was still around to come close to tying it with the goalie pulled, as Daws made 46 saves on the night.
Owen Sound goaltender Olivier Lafreniere was no slouch, making 24 stops, including a couple of beauty glove snares.
All three goals came in the second period.
Cam Hillis put the Storm up 1-0 on the power play, then Cade Robinson tied it, with Ethan Szypula notching the winner late in the frame with Liam Hawel in the penalty box for a retaliatory roughing call behind the play.
The Storm plays in London Sunday afternoon. They are in Mississauga Thursday, then host Owen Sound Friday.