By Ryan Pyette, London Free Press – The Brick House finally has a scratch.
Michael Houser started his OHL career on a roll with five straight wins.
In his sixth yesterday, he played Guelph’s Matt Hoyle to a standstill through regulation, overtime and eight shootout rounds.
But in the ninth, Guelph defenceman Adam Comrie discovered a slight crack and sent a rocket slapper past the sensational London rookie goalie to hand him his first defeat in the Knights’ 4-3 shootout loss before 3,773 at the Sleeman Centre.
The Storm won the low-scoring shootout portion 2-1. Houser’s aura of invincibility is over.
“I noticed he (Houser) was putting his leg (on his glove-hand side) down and thought I could get the puck over,” said the 19-year-old Comrie, the former Saginaw blue-liner whose Game 4 loss to London in last spring’s second round ended his Spirit-ed tenure. “Goalies aren’t usually expecting a slap shot so I tried to use that to my advantage.”
It took a marathon breakaway contest to bring down Houser.
He had seen the game-ending format in the United States Hockey League last year with Des Moines, but had never taken part.
Houser faced just 18 shots in 65 minutes, then turned aside seven of nine Storm skaters in the shootout.
“I felt like I let the team down (after allowing three goals in the first two periods),” the 17-year-old from Wexford, Penn., said. “In the shootout, you try not to anticipate anything and wait. We work on it in practice.”
Guelph’s little-used Connor Tresham — a hunch by Storm coach Jason Brooks — beat Houser in the third round, but London’s Jared Knight extended it with a nifty backhander to set the stage for Comrie’s heroics.
“It’s a toss-up in the shootout,” Brooks said. “You look over at the other bench and they’re throwing out Nazem Kadri, Phil McRae, Phil Varone and you wonder who else they have over there. But Matt (Hoyle) did a great job at keeping them out.”
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