by Matt Pelkey
It’s back to the drawing board for the Guelph Storm.
The first game of Guelph’s journey to repeat as Ontario Hockey League champions did not turn out as hoped.
In fact, it was far from that.
The Storm (4) were dropped 6-1 by the lower-seeded Owen Sound Attack (5) Friday night at the Sleeman Centre in the first game of the 2015 OHL Playoffs.
Jason Dickinson scored the lone goal for Guelph as Justin Nichols made eight saves on 11 shots before being relieved by Bradley Van Schubert, who stopped 11.
Jeffery Gilligan, Erik Bradford, Damir Sharipzyanov, Connor Walters, Justin Brack, and Daniel Milne all registered goals for the Attack. Jack Flinn turned aside 30 shots in the victory.
It didn’t take long for the game’s first goal to be scored.
Amidst a physical opening frame, Gilligan put the visitors up just 2:55 into the contest when he put in a centering pass from the side of the Guelph net courtesy of Liam Dunda.
Then, a turnover in the Storm end led to a partial two-on-one break. Bradford, the puck carrier, elected to shoot and beat Nichols to the low blocker side to give the Attack a 2-0 lead less than nine minutes in.
Guelph struggled to find their footing the remainder of the period as Owen Sound, the more energized team out of the gate, finished the period with a 2-0 lead despite being outshot 11-7.
The home team received a boost early in the middle frame that brought the game to within one.
Dickinson picked up a loose puck after a neutral zone turnover and fired a wristshot off the post and in over the glove of Flinn. The goal came just 2:07 into the period.
Unfortunately for the Storm, they couldn’t generate any momentum from it.
Sharipzyanov made a Guelph comeback more difficult when he beat Nichols with a wristshot from the right circle on an Owen Sound power play.
The goal was the third on just 11 shots and ended Nichols’ night as Van Schubert replaced the veteran netminder.
Guelph would get a few chances to claw back within a goal, but Flinn answered the bell every time.
As the second period horn sounded to end the frame, frustration boiled over as Robby Fabbri and Santino Centorame engaged in a fight.
Though down by two, the Storm led 19-15 in shots.
The third period wouldn’t prove to get any better for Guelph.
On another power play, Walters snapped a shot from the right circle that made its way past a screened Van Schubert to gave the Attack a 4-1 lead.
The marker was the dagger in the heart as it sucked out any energy the Storm had left for a comeback. And to worsen the matter, it was not the end of Owen Sound’s scoring, either.
1:56 after Walters’ tally, Brack scored the Attack’s fifth goal on a shot that Van Schubert would likely want back, a long shot from high in the Storm zone.
The fifth-seed Attack tallied their third power play goal of the night when Milne scored to put Guelph down by five.
In a game where the Storm could never get any momentum going, Owen Sound took the first game of the series by a final score of 6-1.
Final shots were 31-25 for Guelph.
The Storm will look to rebound and tie the series in Game 2, which goes this Sunday, March 29, at 6:30 PM at the Sleeman Centre.
– – Guelph won the season series 5-2-0-1. Before tonight, Storm were 3-1 at home this season against the Attack.
– 5 of the 8 games in the regular season were decided by 1 goal.
– Guelph went 0-for3 on the power play; Owen Sound was 3-for-5.
– – This is the first time Guelph and Owen Sound have met in the playoffs since 2004. That year, the Storm went on to win the OHL Championship.
Owen Sound Attack 6 at Guelph Storm 1 – Status: Final
Friday, March 27, 2015 – Sleeman Centre
Owen Sound 2 1 3 – 6
Guelph 0 1 0 – 1
1st Period-1, Owen Sound, Gilligan 1 (Dunda, Brack), 2:55. 2, Owen Sound, Bradford 1 (Platzer), 8:42. Penalties-Bradford Os (hooking), 14:05.
2nd Period-3, Guelph, Dickinson 1 (Smith), 2:07. 4, Owen Sound, Sharipzyanov 1 (Schemitsch, Bradford), 5:08 (PP). Penalties-Hall Gue (delay of game), 4:38; Nastasiuk Os (tripping), 9:19; Fabbri Gue (boarding), 10:51; Centorame Os (cross checking, fighting), 20:00; Fabbri Gue (fighting), 20:00.
3rd Period-5, Owen Sound, Walters 1 (Platzer, Bigras), 5:18 (PP). 6, Owen Sound, Brack 1 (Sharipzyanov, Meyer), 7:22. 7, Owen Sound, Milne 1 (Cook, Sharipzyanov), 12:21 (PP). Penalties-Stevens Gue (roughing), 3:21; Baltisberger Gue (elbowing), 11:09; Hall Gue (tripping), 14:28; Lindo Os (cross checking, 10-min. misc.), 15:26; Carroll Gue (cross checking, 10-min. misc.), 15:26; Szypula Os (fighting), 19:40; Stevens Gue (fighting), 19:40.
Shots on Goal-Owen Sound 7-8-10-25. Guelph 11-8-12-31.
Power Play Opportunities-Owen Sound 3 / 5; Guelph 0 / 3.
Goalies-Owen Sound, Flinn 0-0-0-0 (31 shots-30 saves). Guelph, Nichols 0-0-0-0 (11 shots-8 saves); Van Schubert 0-0-0-0 (14 shots-11 saves).
Referees-Brett Montsion (11), Joe Monette (25).
Linesmen-Dustin McCrank (68), Ryan Wilson (89).
3) OS Damir Sharipzyanov – 1 goal, 2 assists
2) OS Jack Flinn – 30 saves
1) OS Erik Bradford – 1 goal, 1 assist