Daws makes a statement as Guelph Storm opens exhibition play with a win

Tony Saxon /

Guelph Storm goaltender Nico Daws picked a pretty decent time to strut his stuff Saturday night.

Just a couple of hours after the Storm announced they had signed rookie goaltender Tanner Wickware to a contract, second-year man Daws stopped all 17 shots he faced at the Sleeman Centre as the Storm opened its pre-season with a 5-2 win over the Peterborough Petes.

Wickware played the second half and was beaten by two perfectly placed wrist shots on the first two shots he faced. He then stopped all 11 shots he faced the rest of the way.

Does Wickware’s signing mean there’s a battle for the backup job behind starter Anthony Popovich? Not really.

Storm coach George Burnett said Wickware was signed to add goaltending depth to the organization and he expects him to play a lot – in junior B with the Cambridge Redhawks.

“Let’s not overthink it, the key thing is that we needed goaltending depth in our organization,” Burnett said. “We got into a situation at the end of the exhibition season last year where Daws got hurt and we had to go trade for somebody.

“The plan probably is to see Tanner start in Cambridge and play with what I understand is a good opportunity there, plus he’ll practice with us when the schedule permits,” Burnett said.

“Tanner is a young guy and we believe in him … if we’re going to take another step as an organization, we have to be solid in goal. Poppy can’t play 60 games.

Even though it was pre-season, Daws was thrilled to turn in a solid performance after an admittedly slow start to training camp.

“I was a little rough in the scrimmages, but after tonight I feel more confident,” Daws said.

“It was very important (to play well Saturday). We’ve got another goalie here pushing and trying to take my spot. I have to work hard and make sure that I belong here.

“I’m fighting for my spot. Nothing’s guaranteed and I’ll work as hard as I can to keep my spot.”

Daws said he spent a lot of time working on his conditioning over the summer, something he felt he needed to do to stick and thrive in the OHL.

“I think that was one of my biggest issues last year, but now I feel a lot better,” he said of being in better shape.

“I had all the coaches tell me last year and I looked at myself. I wouldn’t be able to last in the league if I kept my condition the way it was so I worked on it every single day.”

The Storm jumped out to a 4-0 lead before taking their foot off the pedal a bit Saturday night.

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