For the fourth time in five seasons, the Storm and Knights opened a post-season series and on Friday night, London native Drew Doughty netted the overtime game winner to give Guelph the 3-2 win. Only seconds into the extra frame, Doughty pinched along the side boards beating the London winger to the puck and flipped a shot the Knights’ goal that handcuffed Jhase Sniderman and bounced in for the game winner. The two clubs will hook up for Game Two on Saturday night at the Sleeman Centre for a 7 pm start. Tickets still remain for the contest with the Storm box office opening at 10 am.
After a scoreless first period that saw the Knights carry the majority of the play and outshoot the Storm 15-5, London opened the scoring early in the middle frame with Jadran Beljo redirecting a Kale Kerbashian pass by Thomas McCollum in the Guelph cage. Down 1-0, the Storm began to gain momentum minutes later after killing off nearly two minutes of five-on-three just ,moments after Beljo’s marker. Guelph would finally solve Sniderman at the 9:09 mark of the second on a point shot by Stephen Miller through traffic that bounced off a London leg. Raffy Rotter, who was parked in front of the Knights’ net and Brandon Buck picked up assists on the tying goal. The two teams headed to the final twenty minutes of regulation tied at one with Guelph outshooting the home side 13-9 in the second.
The Storm continued to generate scoring chances in the third led by the strong cycling game of the trio of Tim Priamo, Luke Pither and Tyler Melancon. With Steven Tarasuk already in the box for cross checking, Kevin Montgomery was whistled for delay of game after a clearing attempt left the rink. Guelph grabbed their first lead of the contest on the resulting five-on-three when Brandon Buck took a couple of whacks at a loose puck and put the second swipe past Sniderman. Rotter with his second and Corey Syvret picked up assists on Buck’s goal. The Knights had a few chances to pull even including a point blank shot by Beljo, but McCollum stood tall for Guelph. Then with the London goalie pulled in favour of the extra attacker, Akim Aliu wristed a shot from the side boards through a maze of players that snuck past the Storm netminder and knotted the game at two with just 27 seconds remaining. Buck nearly broke the tie in the final seconds when he outraced a London blueliner and fired a shot at Sniderman, but the game was headed for extra time setting up Doughty’s heroics.
Brandon Buck was named first star of the game with a goal and an assist with Kerbashian of London earning second star honours and Doughty with the game winner getting the nod for third star. Thomas McCollum picked up the win turning aside 36 of 38 Knights’ shots.
With Game Two on Saturday night in Guelph at 7 pm, the two teams next meeting in London will be Tuesday, March 25th before returning to the Sleeman Centre for Game Four on Thursday at 7 pm. Follow the series at home and on the road with live coverage on Rogers 20 or listen live on 1460 CJOY.