The Storm beat the Owen Sound Attack 2-1 at a sold-out Sleeman Centre Saturday night to take their best-of-seven Western Conference quarter-final four games to one.
“When you go out there like that and put a performance on like that with as young a team as we’ve got, it’s a good feeling for everybody,” Storm coach Bill Stewart said.
“We played a pretty solid 60 minutes if you ask me,” said Storm goaltender Justin Nichols.
The Storm will now face the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the conference semifinals. Dates for that series will be announced Monday, with the first two games in the Soo.
The other conference semifinal has the London Knights up against the Erie Otters. London eliminated the Kitchener Rangers in Game 6 of that series Sunday night with a 5-0 victory.
It was Guelph’s pair of Swiss imports supplying the goals on Saturday.
After Owen Sound’s Ethan Szypula had given the visitors a 1-0 lead in the first period, Baltisberger tied the game midway through the second when he bull-rushed the Attack net and slid it by goaltender Jack Flinn.
Seventy eight seconds later with Guelph killing a penalty, Pius Suter pushed the puck past Owen Sound defenceman Thomas Schemitsch at the Guelph blue line and raced down the ice before firing a wrist shot past Flinn’s blocker for what would be the game winning goal.
“I knew to go blocker side. We’d talked about it before,” Suter said of his winning goal. “I just tried to get it through him. I was a little bit far away from the net but I thought it was the right moment. He wasn’t ready for me to shoot from that far.”
Things got a little tense at the end of the game when Guelph played the final one minute, 40 seconds down two men, thanks to a penalty and a pulled goaltender. But they held on, blocking shots and getting a brilliant glove save from Nichols on what looked like a sure Zach Nastasiuk goal.
“When your star (Robby Fabbri) blocks a shot it raises the bar,” Stewart said. “I think that third period was by committee and that’s what you have to do in the playoffs.”
Nichols made 28 saves in the game, including a key pad-stacker on Erik Bradford in the second period.
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Guelph vs. Sault Ste. Marie
Game 1: Wednesday, Guelph at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:07 p.m.
Game 2: Thursday, Guelph at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:07 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday, Sault Ste. Marie at Guelph, 6:30 p.m.
Game 4: Tuesday, April 14, Sault Ste. Marie at Guelph, 7 p.m.
Game 5: Friday, April 17, Guelph at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:07 p.m. (*)
Game 6: Sunday, April 19, Sault Ste. Marie at Guelph, 6:30 p.m. (*)
Game 7: Tuesday, April 21, Guelph at Sault Ste. Marie, 7:07 p.m. (*)
(*) – if necessary