Ralph, Kirwin lead Storm back to win column in 5-4 final over Frontenacs

The Guelph Storm got back in the win column Friday night, hosting former Storm forward Matt Hotchkiss and the Kingston Frontenacs.

In a 5-4 final, the offence was spread throughout the line-up, starting with defenseman Ryan Merkley registering four points (one goal and three assists) on the night, with Barret Kirwin not too far behind with three assists. Rookie Cam Hillis earned first star honours with a two-goal performance, while Cedric Ralph mirrored the effort as the game’s second star.

The Frontenacs had four different goal scorers, and only one player recording two points as Tyler Burnie netted a goal and an assist in the loss.

Between the pipes, Anthony Popovich made 27 of 31 saves for his 16th win of the season, while at the other end of the ice, Brendan Bonello turned aside 31 of 36 Storm attempts.

In the first, things got rolling pretty quickly on the scoreboard with the game’s first four goals coming in the opening 5:11 of play, starting with Merkley’s 10th of the season 3:59 into the game.

A quick 13 seconds later, the Frontenacs responded with an odd bounce finding it’s way behind Popovich to tie the game up at one.

The Storm jumped ahead again just 10 seconds afterwards as Kirwin put the puck on net for a driving Ralph, making it a 2-1 contest before the five minute mark.

Before the end of the first, the Storm added two more tallies – both from Hillis – first off a point shot from Merkley, followed by Owen Lalonde creeping in off a drop pass from Isaac Ratcliffe to leave a rebound for the Storm freshman’s second of the game, making it a 4-1 score┬áheading into the second period.

The Frontenacs made things interesting in the middle frame, opening the period with a goal from Burnie just 1:27 in. Luke Drewitt was next, pulling the visitors to within one with his first career OHL marker just over seven minutes later.

Ralph grabbed the eventual game winning goal in the final period of play though, finishing a nice passing play from Kirwin and Merkley to pot his 14th of the season and second of the game.

The Frontenacs added one more on the man-advantage to round out┬áthe 5-4 final, but couldn’t capitalize past that.

The Storm are right back in action on Saturday afternoon, hosting the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for a 4pm start at the Sleeman Centre.

Kingston Frontenacs 4 at Guelph Storm 5 – Status: Final
Friday, December 15, 2017 – Sleeman Centre

Kingston 1 2 1 – 4
Guelph 4 0 1 – 5

1st Period1, Guelph, Merkley 10 (Kirwin, Bertuzzi), 3:59. 2, Kingston, Robertson 18 (Nyman, Gordon), 4:12. 3, Guelph, Ralph 13 (Kirwin, Merkley), 4:22. 4, Guelph, Hillis 13 (Merkley, Samorukov), 5:11. 5, Guelph, Hillis 14 (Lalonde, Ratcliffe), 18:40. Penalties-No Penalties

2nd Period-6, Kingston, Burnie 15 (Cranford, Ali), 1:27. 7, Kingston, Drewitt 1 (Burnie), 7:33. Penalties-Dunkley Kgn (high sticking), 12:33.

3rd Period8, Guelph, Ralph 14 (Merkley, Kirwin), 7:10. 9, Kingston, Popov 6 (Brahaney), 12:31 (PP). Penalties-Hillis Gue (high sticking), 10:50.

Shots on Goal-Kingston 14-7-10-31. Guelph 13-11-12-36.
Power Play Opportunities-Kingston 1 / 1; Guelph 0 / 1.
Goalies-Kingston, Bonello 1-1-0-0 (36 shots-31 saves). Guelph, Popovich 16-9-1-1 (31 shots-27 saves).
Referees-Ryan Elbers (9), Darcy Burchell (38).
Linesmen-David Cianfrini (45), Dave Pfohl (96).

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