Tony Saxon, Guelph Mercury – Perhaps it was the Guelph Storm’s four-goal comeback in the third period that soothed the savage beasts Friday night at the Sleeman Centre.
The Storm ended up losing its fourth consecutive game 5-4 to the Erie Otters in overtime.
But a rare post-game town hall meeting was, all things considered, a relatively dignified affair considering the team now sits in ninth place in the conference – just two points ahead of last-place Sarnia.
About 250 fans packed into Draught Picks restaurant to listen to comments and ask questions of coach/general manager Jason Brooks, owner Rick Hoyle and Sleeman Centre manager Rich Grau.
Most of the questions surrounded team strategy and opinions on players: Michael Latta doesn’t go in the corners enough. Adam Comrie doesn’t shoot enough. Number 3 sucks.
One passionate season ticket holder objected to the Storm’s penchant for dumping pucks into the corner of the offensive zone before hitting the blue-line.
“You, as fans, have every right to make comments about players. I have no issue with that,” Brooks told the orderly gathering.
He said he and the coaches see things the fans don’t when they analyze video of games and he, too, would like to see more offence from his team.
The same fan told Brooks that fans feel they have a right to push team management and hold them accountable.
Brooks didn’t argue.
“Every day I look at myself in the mirror and ask if these guys (the players) are doing what we’re asking them to do,” Brooks said.
“I look in the mirror. I look in the mirror every day.
“I take it personally, I really do,” he said.
When questioned about the team’s goaltending. Brooks said he is just looking for either Matt Hoyle or Cody St. Jacques to step forward and earn the number one job.
Both have been inconsistent.
Co-owner and team president Rick Hoyle said it is still very early in the season.
“We haven’t played very well very often, but we still have a lot of confidence in the team… we’re still optimistic we can have a good season,” Hoyle said.
In response to a question, Grau said the plan is still to have the new scoreboard in place before the end of the season, but the original estimates of a January installation seem unlikely.
As for Friday night’s game, Guelph almost pulled off a win with a brilliant third period that saw them outshoot Erie 18-4 and outscore them 4-0.
“We just worked hard in the third and played our system. That’s how we came back so far,” said the Storm’s Cody McNaughton (pictured).
“It’s just a matter of time before we pick it up again,” Taylor Beck added.
“Everyone’s just trying to stay positive.”
The Storm trailed 2-0 after one period and 4-0 heading into the third.
But Connor Tresham, Peter Holland, Michael Latta and J.P. Labardo, all scored to tie the game with Labardo’s goal coming at 12:29 of the third.
It was Erie’s Andrew Yogan who swatted home a rebound 1:21 into overtime to give the visitors the win.
The Storm hosts Kitchener tonight at 7:30 p.m. and then will play again in Mississauga on Sunday at 2 p.m.