By Tony Saxon, Guelph Today
Anthony Popovich became the first Guelph Storm player to wear the fedora this season after a big win Friday night at the Sleeman Centre.
The well-used hat, symbolic of the city’s Biltmore Hats connection, goes to the Storm’s player of the game after a win and Popovich was instrumental in helping secure the first victory of the season, making 36 saves in a 5-4 win over the Oshawa Generals.
“I felt good, even though they did score on me early, I still felt really strong in net,” said Popovich, who was beaten by Oshawa’s Nic Wong 5:36 into the first period.
“Then once they start to get a few shots on you and you start to feel the puck more and I just felt better and better throughout the game.”
It was the Storm’s first win in three tries this season, something Popovich said was good for all the new players on the team.
“I think it’s great to show everyone how good it feels to win in this league and the young guys can learn a lot from how good it feels and how much losing sucks,” Popovich said.
Storm coach George Burnett said Popovich was “the glue” that held the team together on Friday.
“I thought that when we did break down – and we didn’t break down a lot – but when we did I thought he made some big saves and some of them were second, third saves in a row.
“He did what a goaltender has to do and he gave us a chance to win tonight.”
Russian import Alexey Toropchenko had a goal and two assists, with the other goals coming from Isaac Ratcliffe, Liam Stevens and Garret McFadden. Ryan Merkley had two assists.
The Storm benefitted from some wonky goaltending by Oshawa’s Logan Gauthier in the first periods, scoring on three of their seven shots and taking a 3-1 lead to the dressing room.