The puck officially dropped on the 2017-18 Season on Friday night, with the Guelph Storm opening the campaign playing host to the Sarnia Sting.
After introducing the home roster and bench staff filled with new faces to the Sleeman Centre crowd, three of those new faces notched their first Ontario Hockey League point in a 4-3 shootout loss as Cam Hillis and Tag Bertuzzi each recorded an assist, and Alexey Toropchenko tallied a goal and an assist.
Sophomore Anthony Popovich got the call in goal, stopping 21 of 24 shots on the night, while Justin Fazio made 32 stops for the Sting.
To start the game, the Sting faced some penalty trouble, giving the Storm a two-man advantage just over two minutes into the contest. On the power play, Ryan Merkley found Toropchenko back door, giving the Moscow, Russia native his first OHL goal.
Later in the period, the Sting pushed back to tie the game at one-a-piece as Anthony Salinitri jumped on a rebound after Hugo Leufvenius’ initial shot off the face off win.
Minutes later, with 1:16 remaining in the first, it was Bertuzzi’s turn to make a nice feed to Liam Hawel rushing through the slot, who made no mistake in giving Guelph the 2-1 lead heading into the middle frame.
In the second, although outshot 10-9, the Sting would win the period with the lone goal coming from a Drake Rymsha wrist shot on the power play to tie the game up at two.
Looking ahead to the third, the Storm regained the lead once again at the 8:33 mark as Hillis added to the impressive playmaking highlights on the night, connecting with Merkley who found the back of the net for his first of the season, giving the Storm a 3-2 lead.
The Sting weren’t done yet though, as Connor Schlichting completed a Sarnia rush with the tying goal just under four minutes later.
Moving into extra time, although solving nothing on the board, saw the Storm come close to taking the win with a disallowed goal as a shot was blown dead after hitting Fazio in the helmet.
Requiring a shootout, Rymsha and Salinitri both scored for the Sting to complete the 4-3 win, while Isaac Ratcliffe was the lone goal scorer for the Storm. Hawel and Bertuzzi were Guelph’s second and third shooters respectively.
The Storm are back in action on Sunday, visiting the Windsor Spitfires for a 2:05pm puck drop.
Sarnia Sting 4 (SO) at Guelph Storm 3 – Status: Final SO
Friday, September 22, 2017 – Sleeman Centre
Sarnia 1 1 1 0 – 4
Guelph 2 0 1 0 – 3
1st Period–1, Guelph, Toropchenko 1 (Merkley, McFadden), 2:52 (PP). 2, Sarnia, Salinitri 1 (Leufvenius, Ruzicka), 14:13. 3, Guelph, Hawel 1 (Bertuzzi), 18:44. Penalties-served by Grima Sar (too many men), 1:34; Sproviero Sar (slashing), 2:07; served by Kammerer Sar (too many men), 8:57.
2nd Period-4, Sarnia, Rymsha 1 (Ruzicka, Ernst), 15:28 (PP). Penalties-Ernst Sar (slashing), 2:24; Poirier Gue (inter. on goaltender), 3:23; Calvas Sar (cross checking), 4:03; Ralph Gue (hooking), 5:36; Hotchkiss Gue (blindsiding), 6:08; Egert Sar (hooking), 9:10; Toropchenko Gue (interference), 13:29; McGregor Sar (holding), 15:53; Ruzicka Sar (hooking), 19:21.
3rd Period–5, Guelph, Merkley 1 (Hillis, Toropchenko), 8:33. 6, Sarnia, Schlichting 1 (Josling, Rymsha), 12:29. Penalties-Merkley Gue (slashing), 19:09.
OT Period– No Scoring. Penalties-Ruzicka Sar (roughing), 1:44.
Shootout – Sarnia 2 (Rymsha G, Salinitri G, Ruzicka NG), Guelph 1 (Ratcliffe G, Hawel NG, Bertuzzi NG).
Shots on Goal-Sarnia 7-8-9-0-1-25. Guelph 12-8-10-5-0-35.
Power Play Opportunities-Sarnia 1 / 5; Guelph 1 / 9.
Goalies-Sarnia, Fazio 1-0-0-0 (35 shots-32 saves). Guelph, Popovich 0-0-0-1 (24 shots-21 saves).
Referees-Pat Myers (40), Patrick Battista (10).
Linesmen-Adam Harris (49), Dustin McCrank (68).