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Storm’s valiant effort falls short as Greyhounds win Game 3 in overtime

The Guelph Storm were already in a hole going into Game 3 of their first-round OHL playoff series with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The Storm dropped the first two games of the series in the Soo and were without forward Max Namestnikov, who was serving the second game of his four-game suspension. Prior to the start of Game 3 on Monday night at the Sleeman Centre, captain Braeden Bowman and forward Jake Karabella were added to the scratch list. Bowman and Karabella were both out with injuries that occurred in Saturday’s loss.

Despite missing three of their Top-6 forwards, Guelph managed to build a three-goal lead and were in control of the game. But a lack of discipline and a controversial penalty call late in the third period saw the visiting Greyhounds rally to beat the Storm 5-4 in overtime.

“I thought we were disciplined in the game plan and had buy-in from everybody,” said Storm assistant coach Rob Collins on the team’s performance in the first half of the game.

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“I think where we came up short is we took too many penalties.”

Guelph were 1-for-2 with the man advantage but were short-handed six times resulting two power play goals for the Soo.

Perhaps the one penalty that killed any momentum that the Storm had was a delay of game call on goaltender Brayden Gillespie (33 saves) in the second period. During a Storm power play, Gillespie was in the trapezoid area behind the net but his stick in the restricted zone for goaltenders and played the puck.

The Storm were up 4-1 at the time and had just chased Greyhounds’ starting netminder Charlie Schenkel (nine saves) from the game. But the penalty on Gillespie killed that man advantage and pretty much any chance Guelph had to put the game away.

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The Soo would later score two goals :28 apart, one of them on the power play, to cut Guelph’s lead down to 4-3 before the end of the second.

Without Namestnikov, Bowman, and Karabella, as well as injured defencemen Brayden Hislop and Rowan Topp, Jett Luchanko was thrust into the spotlight. The second-year forward was centring the top line and the first power-play unit as well as on the penalty kill. He recorded only one assist in the game but Collins felt he contributed in other ways.

“The expectation for us to believe in him is that he is going to be consistently really good, and tonight was another example of him doing the right thing consistently with the right effort,” Collins said Monday.

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Luchanko thought the Storm played well enough through the first three games of this series.

“We showed we were the better team,” he said. “So from here, we’ll take it one game at a time, and I think we can win the series.”

The third period saw the Storm maintain their slim one-goal lead but were on their heels for most of the period allowing the Greyhounds to control the offensive zone.

But it was a controversial head check penalty on Charlie Paquette with the game tied at 4-4 and :15 left in regulation that perhaps sealed Guelph’s fate. The penalty occurred in the Soo’s zone as the play was unfolding at the other end of the ice.

TV replays didn’t appear to show any head contact was made. But referee Blake Beer made the call and that appeared to be the last straw for Storm head coach Chad Wiseman who had some choice words for Beer and the on-ice officiating crew resulting in Wiseman being ejected from the game.

The power play carried over into overtime where Owen Allard scored :57 into the extra frame and give the Greyhounds a 3-0 series lead.

Collins, who spoke to reporters after the game in place of Wiseman, said he didn’t hear enough of the exchange between Wiseman and the officials that led to the ejection. But he said there is no way that the Storm can give so many opportunities to the opposition and expect to win.

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“The guys gave a good effort, there was an ultimate effort in blocking shots,” he said. “But they have a good club over there and they capitalized on their opportunities.”

Vilmer Alriksson, Parker Snelgrove, Paquette, and Brody Crane scored for the Storm. Jacob Frasca, Bryce McConnell-Barker, Gavin Hayes, Krill Kudryavtsev and Allard had the goals for the Greyhounds.

Landon Miller stopped all eight shots he faced in the victory for the Soo.

Game 4 of the series is Wednesday night at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph. You can listen to the game on 1460 CJOY beginning with the pre-game show at 6:15 p.m.

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