Popovich outstanding in 4-2 loss to Rangers

Aaron Bell/OHL Images

A mix of mistakes and penalties may have cost the Guelph Storm two points in Kitchener on Sunday afternoon.

Paying a visit to Midwest Division rivals, the Kitchener Rangers, the Storm fell 4-2 despite an outstanding performance by netminder Anthony Popovich who turned aside 34 of 38 attempts in the loss for second star honours.

Former Storm forward, Givani Smith, led the way for the Rangers in his first game against his old team, registering three points (one goal, two assists) with a plus-three standing as the game’s first star.

Mario Culina was between the pipes for the Rangers, making 28 saves in the win.

To get things started on the board, Adam Liska opened the scoring 9:14 into the first period on four-on-four play following a negated Storm power play with James McEwan awarded two for interference.

Following it up in the second was Smith, capitalizing on a Dmitri Samorukov turnover, rifling a shot from the face off dot to put the Rangers ahead by two at the 6:26 point.

Later, with under five minutes remaining in the second, the Storm cut the deficit in half as Ryan Merkley fed Alexey Toropchenko on the doorstep for his seventh of the season.

1:57 later, the Rangers responded with the eventual game winner as captain Connor Bunnaman stripped Garrett McFadden of the puck on the forecheck and capitalizing to make it a 3-1 game heading into the final period.

The Storm came out pressing in the third, finally converting in the latter half as Isaac Ratcliffe grabbed his 22nd goal of the year off a two-on-one break, pulling the Storm to within one with 8:38 left in the game.

With momentum favouring the visitors, the Storm headed to the power play shortly after with Logan Stanley sent off for cross checking. On the man-advantage, however, a miscommunication between Merkley and McEwan led to Smith breaking in alone, only to have Eric Guest follow it up shorthanded to make it a 4-2 game with 5:56 remaining.

From there, the Storm were awarded five penalties including a four-minute major for high-sticking to Owen Lalonde, falling in a 4-2 final to the Rangers.

The Storm look ahead to Friday, January 26th next, hosting the Flint Firebirds for a 7:30pm start. Purchase tickets online here, by calling (519) 837-9690, or in person by visiting the Guelph Storm Box Office in Old Quebec Street Mall.

Guelph Storm 2 at Kitchener Rangers 4 – Status: Final
Sunday, January 21, 2018 – Kitchener Memorial Auditorium

Guelph 0 1 1 – 2
Kitchener 1 2 1 – 4

1st Period-1, Kitchener, Liška 11 (Michael Vukojevic, Givani Smith), 9:14. Penalties-Stanley Kit (high sticking), 7:48; McEwan Gue (interference), 8:15; Toropchenko Gue (illegal equipment), 12:31.

2nd Period-2, Kitchener, Givani Smith 12 (Garreffa, Sherwood), 6:26. 3, Guelph, Toropchenko 7 (Merkley), 15:15. 4, Kitchener, Bunnaman 18   17:12. Penalties-Yantsis Kit (holding), 9:32; Ratcliffe Gue (roughing), 11:17.

3rd Period5, Guelph, Ratcliffe 22 (Hillis), 11:22. 6, Kitchener, Guest 4 (Givani Smith), 14:04 (SH). Penalties-Stanley Kit (cross checking), 12:46; Lalonde Gue (high sticking, high sticking), 14:34; Damiani Kit (high sticking, high sticking), 14:55; Hillis Gue (face-off violation), 15:11; Merkley Gue (holding, unsportsmanlike cnd.), 17:56.

Shots on GoalGuelph 12-8-10-30. Kitchener 12-15-11-38.
Power Play OpportunitiesGuelph 0 / 3; Kitchener 0 / 5.
GoaliesGuelph, Popovich 21-14-1-2 (38 shots-34 saves). Kitchener, Culina 7-5-2-0 (30 shots-28 saves).
Referees-Brett Montsion (11), Scott Oakman (23).
Linesmen-Will Dykeman (53), Kevin Hastings (61).

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