By Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury
If the Guelph Storm is going to break out of its current funk, it’s going to need its older players to be better.
That was the message delivered by coach Bill Stewart after the Storm lost for the sixth straight time Friday night at the Sleeman Centre, 5-1 to the Niagara IceDogs.
Guelph is now 1-9-1-0 on the season.
The Storm’s top performers on the night were rookies: Nic Sicoly (pictured), Isaac Ratcliffe, Liam Stevens and Nick Deakin-Poot. While that excites Stewart, it also shows the dire straits the team is in when its best players are three 16 year olds and a 17 year old.
“It comes to a point where sometimes, if you’re going to progress as a team, you need to play your young guys more than your older guys for the simple fact that they were better,” Stewart said.
The coach said his young players were “absolutely” his best players in a 5-1 game where the shots were 30-30.
“When that happens, it’s great moving forward, but you always have concerns when your top six players are playing, lets say, in an inferior role in a game like that,” the Storm coach said.
While the rookies played plenty, particularly in the third period, the same couldn’t be said for some of the veteran forwards.
Stewart wasn’t pleased with the play of his top two lines and cut their ice time considerably. One of them, overager Tyler Hill, sat on the bench the entire third period.
Justin Nichols had a rare average night and it seems the Storm only has a chance to win these days when he stands on his head.
“I was excited about our young guys. Liam Stevens, Ratcliffe had his moments and I liked Sicoly again tonight,” Stewart said. “It’s exciting to watch young people try to get better on a shift-to-shift basis.
“Maybe we’ve got to give the young guys even more to bite on. They certainly deserved it as far as I was concerned.”
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