By Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury
If Guelph Storm general manager Mike Kelly wasn’t feeling pressure to make a trade before Tuesday night’s game with the Kitchener Rangers, he almost certainly is now.
On a day that saw four Western Conference teams make deals that improved their teams, the struggling Storm fell 6-2 to the revamped Rangers at The Aud.
Kitchener acquired four new players Tuesday and all four played significant roles in the win over the Storm, who now sit alone in fifth place in the conference, one point up on sixth place Plymouth.
Owen Sound, London and Windsor also added to their lineups on Tuesday, just ahead of Thursday’s OHL trade deadline.
“We’re okay here. We’ll get it going,” Storm coach Scott Walker said after the loss in Kitchener.
“I’m not panicking. People will call me crazy, and no question there’s mistakes and there’s some guys struggling, but I’ve got guys out there that are playing a lot of minutes and working their ass off.
“I’m not down, we just have to right the ship. We’ve all been through it.”
Guelph was missing four regulars with injury and had two players kicked out during the game.
They were hoping for a boost from the return of world junior participants Garret Sparks and Tanner Richard, but Sparks stayed home with the flu and Richard was given a match penalty for slew footing midway through the second period.
“I have no idea what happened. I came together with their player and the next thing I know he (the referee) was saying ‘you’re done,’” Richard said.
Walker defended Richard, saying replays showed there was no slew foot, but the match penalty usually carries an automatic two-game suspension.
“We watched the replay. It was clearly not a slew foot,” Walker said.
Andrey Pedan was also kicked out of the game for a mini-snap on Schoenmakers in the third period after the score got out of hand.
The late-game nastiness could set the stage for some interesting meetings down the stretch, as these two teams play each other six more times over the next two months.