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Young Guelph Storm exceeding expectations so far

By Paul Osborne, Guelphmercury.com

Expectations for this edition of the Guelph Storm were not high heading into the season.

A whopping 14 players that finished the club’s Ontario Hockey League championship season in May have moved on.

Their spots have been filled by a lot of rookies still trying to find their way in the league. Yet there they are, off to a 7-4-1-2 (wins-losses-overtime losses-shootout losses) start.

“This is a hard working group of kids, we are getting some big time performances from our older guys and our goaltending has been strong,” said coach and GM George Burnett.

“We are getting tighter as a group and guys are getting more comfortable despite being in their first year,” added captain Cam Hillis, who has exploded for five goals and 20 points in 15 games.

The combination of Hillis and Pavel Gogolev has been lethal so far. Gogolev is tied for 10th in league scoring with 10 goals and 25 points in 15 games.

“He scored 30 goals two years ago (with Peterborough) and was the eighth overall pick in the league (in 2016), so he came into the league with high expectations,” said Burnett, explaining it can’t be labeled as “surprising” that he is off to such an explosive start.

“He is being rewarded for his work energy, his second effort and his hustle is considerably improved.”

While no one questioned his ability to score goals, his commitment to defence was suspect but so far this season he has worked to become a better all-round player.

“He is doing a great job on the defensive end,” said Hillis.

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