By Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury
The ride to Owen Sound might not be everyone’s cup of tea in the middle of winter, but it suits Garret Sparks just fine, thank you.
For the third straight visit to the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre the Guelph Storm goaltender shut out the Owen Sound Attack.
Sparks made 28 saves for his league-leading seventh shoutout of the season as the Storm won 2-0.
Three shutouts against one team in a season is impressive. Even more so when you consider the Attack are the nation’s 10th-ranked team.
“I just really enjoy the bus ride up here,” Sparks said of his success in Owen Sound this season. “It’s a good sleep and just the perfect amount of time to travel.”
Sparks said it’s also a team effort, as everyone seems to get up to play a tough divisional rival in a building that historically has not been good to Storm teams.
“I guess we’re kind of reversing the trend of what we used to do up here,” Sparks said.
Guelph got all the offence it would need in the first period, as Ryan Horvat smartly fired a low wrist shot at Jordon Binnington’s pad on a two-on-one, creating a big rebound for Patrick Watling to bang home.
Hunter Garlent accounted for the other goal, a shot from inside the blueline during a Storm power play that beat Binnington, who was being screened by Cody McNaughton at the time.
With the win, Guelph moves within three points of fourth-place Owen Sound in the Western Conference standings and four points back of third-place Kitchener, with a game in hand on both teams.
Sparks was named first star Wednesday, but the real star in the game was the Storm forecheck: a relentless, pestering 60 minutes that made a very good Attack team look hesitant and confused.
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