Storm dug themselves deep hole, Bulldogs hang on for victory

The struggling Guelph Storm were the ones that ended up in the dog house.

The visiting Brantford Bulldogs built a big lead and hung on to beat Guelph 6-4 at Sleeman Centre on Friday night, handing the Storm their fifth straight loss.

It was 1-0 for the Bulldogs after one period before the wheels began to fall off for the Storm in the second. Patrick Thomas scored twice for Brantford in that period, one on the power play, the other shorthanded.

“I got a bit lucky on that power play goal,” said Thomas, who finished the game with three points. “I was just kind of standing here with my stick hard on the ice and fortunately it bounced in.”

After 40 minutes, Brantford were comfortably up 5-0.

“We’re working on trying to get to the net, fighting for body positioning,” Thomas said on their play in the second.

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While the Bulldogs (26-15-6-2) were skating hard and completing their passes, the Storm (25-20-3-1) at times looked lost on the ice.

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“First seven or eight minutes (of the game), we were getting a decent forecheck, kind of imposing our will on them,” said Storm captain Braeden Bowman. “Second period, we weren’t focused and ready to dial it in on the power play and we have to be ready in those areas.”

Storm goaltender Brayden Gillespie (14 saves) was pulled at the 13:32 mark of the second after Florian Xhekaj scored Brantford’s fifth goal. Damian Slavik (11 saves) came in and finished the game.

“Gillespie’s been our goalie,” Bowman said. “He’s kept us in many games this season. We could have been better for him tonight.”

The third period was when Guelph started to show some life. Jett Luchanko (17th) got the Storm’s first goal of the game at 4:02, then Max Namestnikov (23rd) scored 1:30 later to cut the Bulldogs’ lead down to 5-2.

“Last game we played them, we were also up 4-0,” Thomas said, referring to the Bulldogs’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Storm in Brantford on Nov. 1, 2023. “It kind of felt a bit of a ‘Oh no, here we go again’ feeling.”

Namestnikov had a chance to really swing the momentum in the Storm’s favour when he was awarded a penalty shot at the 9:20 mark of the third  after he was held trying to score on a short-handed breakaway. However, Namestnikov wasn’t able to put it by Matteo Drobac (37 saves) who closed the door the rest of the way.

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Noah Nelson and Jake O’Brien also scored for the Bulldogs who snapped their two-game slide. Vilmer Alrisksson and Hunter McKenzie had other Storm goals.

Guelph went scoreless on five power play opportunities while Brantford were 2-for-3 with the man advantage.

The next game for the Storm is Saturday night in Sarnia against the Sting. You can hear the game on 1460 CJOY starting at 6:45 p.m.


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