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Young and shorthanded Guelph Storm can't hold on against Saginaw

Guelph played game missing five veterans
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Six months from now these are probably going to be games the Guelph Storm wins.

Not Friday though, as the Storm gave up a pair of unanswered goals in the third period in a 3-2 loss to the Saginaw Spirit at the Sleeman Centre.

The win puts Saginaw just four points back of the Sarnia Sting for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Storm, already the second-youngest team in the OHL, played without five veterans due to injury and suspension.

“With a lot more experience the guys are going to know how to battle in that third period,” said the Storm’s Isaac Ratcliffe.

“We definitely let the gas off a little bit and they took advantage of us. We’re going to come out on top of those with a little bit more experience in the league.”

Goals by Ratcliffe in the first period and Cedric Ralph in the second had Guelph up 2-1 heading to the final 20 minutes.

But Hayden Hodgson tied it on the power play at 5:18 of the third to tie things up.

Then three minutes later the Storm’s James McEwan made a great play on the backcheck to strip the puck off a Saginaw forward, but his clearing attempt went straight to the Spirit’s Filip Hronek, who rifled a wrist shot over the glove hand of goaltender Anthony Popovich.

Popovich was solid in net, making 26 saves. Evan Cormier made 24 for Saginaw.

Storm coach Jarrod Skalde said the team just couldn’t get the momentum back in the third period.

“There was a momentum shift in that third period. You could clearly feel the momentum changing and we’re asking 17 year olds to do something about it,” Skalde said.

“That’s where maturity comes in. You need some guys that can recognize it themselves.”

Skalde said it’s a grind mentally for a lot of  the players right now.

Guelph played without Barret Kirwin, Levi Tetrault, Luke Burghardt and Austin Hall, all injured, and both Matt Hotchkiss (two games) and Givani Smith (one game), who were suspended for incidents in Thursday night’s loss in London.

“There’s going to be a lot of people watching in the crowd to see what we can do these last few games, we have to show we have that will, that drive, to never give up and compete all the way through,” Ratcliffe said. “We’re going to push it these last few games.”

The Knights visit the Sleeman Centre on Sunday. Kitchener is in town on Tuesday.

 




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