Storm downs Whalers in series opener
It may just have been the first game of a (hopefully) long playoff run, but the Guelph Storm just got a crash course in what post-season play is like.
Fortunately for Guelph game one went their way.
The Storm used timely goals from a three different lines to down the Plymouth Whalers 5-2 in the opening game of their quarter-final series.
The game itself had just about everything. Countless hard hits, an anxious crowd, a pile of blocked shots, acrobatic saves on both of the rink and few grind-it-out goals. It even had two game misconducts.
Welcome the playoff hockey.
The eight-seeded Whalers made it quite apparent they intend to win this series just as much as the favoured Guelph Storm.
On Plymouth's first power play of the game former Storm first-round draft pick Carter Sandlak finished off a pretty passing play to put the visitors up one early.
On the other end of the rink, Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic put on a spectacular show. Guelph controlled the tempo and the shot clock but had difficulty solving the Whaler netminder.
Nedeljkovic denied a dazzling two-on-one from Robby Fabbri and Kerby Rychel one minute, stoned Rychel on the doorstep the next, and fought his way through traffic to stop a barrage of Storm shots fired from the point.
Despite his admirable performace, he couldn't keep the high-powered Storm offense in check for long.
Late in the first period, Brock McGinn ripped a shot to the back of the net from the slot to level the score at the break.
Guelph continued to be fooled by the athletic Nedeljkovic in the second as he kept the Storm at bay despite being Plymouth being outshot 18-3.
But sometimes you just need to grind a goal out to get things rolling. Guelph's fourth line of Adam Craievich, Chadd Bauman and Pius Suter worked the boards, crashed the net and then got a bounce. Craievich had the shot which set up a tasty rebound for Suter who just had to jam the puck home into the open net.
2-1 Guelph through two.
Guelph would add goals from Jason Dickinson and Stephen Pierog in the first half of the third period to extend their lead to 4-1, removing any doubt that game one would not go their way.
Three different lines scored for Guelph giving them a balanced attack across all four lines.
However, like every playoff game, this one had it’s fair share of physical play. Late in the second Yannick Rathgeb was dealt a five-minute major for a check to the head on Storm star Robby Fabbri. The Storm centre left the game and did not return.
All in all, the Storm has to be pleased with their game one performance. The opposing goalie made it difficult, they were faced with physical adversity and they didn’t have the fast start they expected but the Storm still pulled through.
Even when the Whalers finally controlled puck in the opposing zone, Justin Nichols made a few acrobatic saves to keep his team ahead.
The Whalers added a goal late before Kosmachuk scored the games final goal with 3 seconds left to send Storm fans home with free wings.
Storm 5, Whalers 2. Final.
Guelph will look to push their series lead to two games with a win on Saturday night.
Puck drop is at 7PM at the Sleeman Centre.
Plymouth Whalers 2 at Guelph Storm 5 - Status: Final
Friday, March 21, 2014 - Sleeman Centre
Plymouth 1 0 1 - 2
Guelph 1 1 3 - 5
1st Period-1, Plymouth, Sandlak 1 (Hartman, Crus Rydberg), 6:47 (PP). 2, Guelph, McGinn 1 (Fabbri, Finn), 15:14 (PP). Penalties-Baltisberger Gue (holding), 6:06; McGinn Gue (slashing), 7:47; Hartman Ply (roughing), 12:59; Peters Ply (cross checking), 12:59; Kosmachuk Gue (roughing), 12:59; Sandlak Ply (check from behind, roughing), 13:58; Pierog Gue (roughing), 13:58; Harpur Gue (interference), 17:19; Jones Ply (cross checking), 19:09.
2nd Period-3, Guelph, Suter 1 (Craievich, Finn), 7:30. Penalties-Horvat Gue (interference), 2:17; Bauman Gue (check to the head), 13:14; Rathgeb Ply (check to the head, game misc-check to head), 15:14.
3rd Period-4, Guelph, Dickinson 1 (Trojanovic, McGinn), 3:02. 5, Guelph, Pierog 1 (Auger, Horvat), 12:36. 6, Plymouth, Chatham 1 (Hartman, Crus Rydberg), 19:20 (PP). 7, Guelph, Kosmachuk 1 (Leslie), 19:56 (EN). Penalties-Sandlak Ply (slashing, match-slashing), 12:36; Leslie Gue (interference), 14:32; Mitchell Gue (inter. on goaltender), 16:45; Pierog Gue (high sticking), 18:41; Scognamiglio Ply (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:56; Finn Gue (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 19:56.
Shots on Goal-Plymouth 3-7-11-21. Guelph 18-11-10-39.
Power Play Opportunities-Plymouth 2 / 7; Guelph 1 / 5.
Goalies-Plymouth, Nedeljkovic 0-1-0-0 (38 shots-34 saves). Guelph, Nichols 1-0-0-0 (21 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Scott Oakman (23), Jason Goldenberg (19).
Linesmen-Kevin Hastings (61), Dave Pfohl (96).