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Tip of the hat to Big Poppy as Storm gets first win of the season

Anthony Popovich makes 36 saves in the victory over Oshawa

Anthony Popovich became the first Guelph Storm player to wear the fedora this season after a big win Friday night at the Sleeman Centre.

The well-used hat, symbolic of the city’s Biltmore Hats connection, goes to the Storm’s player of the game after a win and Popovich was instrumental in helping secure the first victory of the season, making 36 saves in a 5-4 win over the Oshawa Generals.

 “I felt good, even though they did score on me early, I still felt really strong in net,” said Popovich, who was beaten by Oshawa’s Nic Wong 5:36 into the first period.

“Then once they start to get a few shots on you and you start to feel the puck more and I just felt better and better throughout the game.”

It was the Storm’s first win in three tries this season, something Popovich said was good for all the new players on the team.

“I think it’s great to show everyone how good it feels to win in this league and the young guys can learn a lot from how good it feels and how much losing sucks,” Popovich said.

Storm coach George Burnett said Popovich was “the glue” that held the team together on Friday.

“I thought that when we did break down – and we didn’t break down a lot – but when we did I thought he made some big saves and some of them were second, third saves in a row.

“He did what a goaltender has to do and he gave us a chance to win tonight.”

Russian import Alexey Toropchenko had two goals and an assist, with the other goals coming from Isaac Ratcliffe, Liam Stevens and Garret McFadden. Ryan Merkley had two assists.

The Storm benefitted from some wonky goaltending by Oshawa’s Logan Gauthier in the first periods, scoring on three of their seven shots and taking a 3-1 lead to the dressing room.

Gauthier was replaced by Kyle Keyser to start the second period but had to return to the crease when Keyser was injured midway through the second.

Danil Antropov made things interesting with a goal at 14:02 of the third period to make it a one-goal game, and a Tag  Bertuzzi penalty two minutes later made things really interesting.

But an interference call on Oshawa’s Riley Stillman with 1:23 on the clock was just what the doctor ordered for the Storm.

Guelph would be outshot 40-22 on the night.

The Storm’s penalty kill was very good on the night, killing off six of seven penalties, including a five-minute slew footing match penalty to Mark Shoemaker and a lengthy five-on-three.

Shoemaker receives an automatic two game suspension for the match penalty and it will be reviewed by the league.

The Storm plays in Saginaw on Saturday.



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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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