But this team comes with several new faces after many key players departed after their Memorial Cup run.
Former captain Isaac Ratcliffe along with Nick Suzuki, Nate Schnarr, Dmitri Samorukov and Sean Durzi have all turned pro, while goaltender Anthony Popovich and forward Liam Hawel have recently been traded.
The team’s play-by-play host Larry Mellott has some high expectations for the 2019-20 edition of the Guelph Storm.
#31 Owen Bennett – goaltender
Owen Bennett, a six-foot-two goaltender, was drafted by the Storm in the fourth round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.
The native of Georgetown, Ont., posted a 17-10 record with the Carleton Place Jr. Canadians in the CCHL2 last season.
“A lot of teams backed away from him because they thought he was going to the NCAA,” Mellott said. “He comes to the team determined to play in the OHL and is highly regarded.”
Mellott expects Bennett to play 15 to 20 games this season.
#35 Nico Daws – goaltender
Nico Daws posted a 10-5-3 record as the backup goaltender last season.
The 18-year-old was drafted by the Guelph Storm in the seventh round of the 2016 draft.
Mellott expects him to be ready to take on the bulk of the games this year.
“He showed signs in games last year – he beat London 5-1, I believe, and shut out Owen Sound — that he would be ready for the number one job,” he said. “They’ll rely heavily on him.”
#2 Colin Campbell – defenceman
Defenceman Colin Campbell signed with the Guelph Storm in August.
Last year he split time between the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League and the Mississauga Rebels in midget triple-A.
Campbell is five-foot-nine and is from Mississauga.
“Tremendous speed and skill. He moves the puck extremely well,” Mellott said. “Battling for pucks along the boards could be an issue.”
#3 Alexandre Hogue – defenceman
The Guelph Storm acquired Alexandre Hogue in August from the Sarnia Sting, where he had five goals and eight assists in two seasons.
The Embrun, Ont., native was chosen by the Sting in the second round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.
Mellott said Hogue has many of the same traits as Campbell.
“Small defenceman who played a limited role in Sarnia but again he is skilled,” he said.
#4 Owen Lalonde – defenceman
Owen Lalonde is now into his third OHL season and second with the Storm.
He was drafted second overall in 2016 by the Sudbury Wolves and was acquired by Guelph in August 2017.
In 68 games last season, he scored seven goals and added 34 assists.
“Lalonde should be the team leader from the back end,” Mellott said. “Just an overall skilled guy.”
#11 Daniil Chayka – defenceman
Daniil Chayka returns to the Guelph Storm for a second year after posting five goals and nine assists last season. The six-foot-three Russian was taken seventh overall by the Storm in 2018.
Chayka represented Team Russia as the assistant captain at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and tallied two assists while winning the gold medal.
Mellott believes he will go in the first or second round of the 2020 NHL draft.
“Big, skilled — expect him to be a tremendous leader on the blue line this year,” he said.
#23 Zack Terry – defenceman
Zack Terry played in 51 games last season for the Guelph Storm and collected five points.
The Oakville, Ont., native is expected to have a larger role this season.
“Hopefully he starts to pick up his game,” Mellott said. “He played some last year but he had a very limited role.”
Terry was originally taken in the second round by the Storm in the 2018 draft.
#26 Luka Profaca – defenceman
Luka Profaca is also looking for a greater role on the Guelph Storm’s back end.
He only played 13 games last season and collected a pair of assists after being drafted in the eighth round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.
Profaca also spent time with the Brampton Bombers Great Ontario Junior Hockey League and the Toronto Jr. Canadians with the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“Profaca is going to be maybe a top-four defenceman,” Mellott said. “He played last year in a couple of different places and logged a tremendous amount of minutes, which has helped in his development.”
#29 Fedor Gordeev – defenceman
Overage defenceman Fedor Gordeev is entering his first full season with the Guelph Storm after he was traded from the Flint Firebirds last year.
He scored seven goals and added 24 assists in 63 games last season.
Gordeev is six-foot-seven and weighs 224 pounds, and Mellott said it’s a bonus to get him back on the team.
“The Minnesota Wild signed him, but they figured another year of development here would be good for him,” he said.
#6 Jacob Maillet – forward
Jacob Maillet is entering his first OHL season after he was selected in the second round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.
The Dundas Ont., native is five-foot and weighs 175 pounds. He played minor hockey in Hamilton last season.
“He’s supposed to be highly skilled,” Mellott said of the rookie. “He scored a couple goals in preseason and I’m looking forward to seeing how he develops.”
#8 Cam Hillis – forward
Cam Hillis will enter in his third OHL season by taking over the captaincy of the Guelph Storm.
He is the franchise’s 29th captain in their history.
Hillis was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft and attended their rookie camp over the summer.
The Enniskillen, Ont., native scored 22 points in 33 games for the Storm last season.
“The captain — that says it all about him,” Mellott said.
#9 Danny Zhilkin – forward
Danny Zhilkin, a six-foot-one forward originally from Moscow, Russia, was the Storm’s first-round pick in this year’s 2019 OHL Priority Selection.
He spent the 2018-19 season with the Toronto Marlboros minor midget triple-A program, posting 53 points in 63 games.
Zhilkin also recorded four points in six games with Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games in Alberta.
“He’s considered extremely skilled,” Mellott said. “It looks like he’s going to develop into a really good one.”
#11 Andrei Bakanov – forward
Andrei Bakanov was selected by the Storm in the 2019 CHL Import Draft.
He spent the 2018-19 season with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders of the USHL, where he collected five goals and nine points in 51 games. In 2017-18, the Moscow native tallied 112 points in 77 games with the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
Mellott said out of the new faces, Bakanov is the one he’s most looking forward to seeing.
“He’s probably going to be a first-line player,” Mellott said. “He’ll be somebody who will be a dominate-type player.”
#12 Keegan Stevenson – forward
Keegan Stevenson enters his third season with the Storm after posting 19 goals and 15 assists last year.
The native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was selected in the sixth round of the OHL Priority Selection.
Mellott said he’s a strong, two-way player, but was surprised Stevenson wasn’t drafted into the NHL.
“His dad (Jeremy Stevenson) played in the NHL and you can tell there is a family background of knowing the game extremely well,” he said.
#14 Cedric Ralph – forward
Cedric Ralph, originally drafted by Guelph, is heading into his fifth OHL season.
The 2018-19 season was Ralph’s best with 50 points in 65 games. The Peterborough, Ont., native has had 102 points in 195 games with the Storm.
Mellot said the five-foot-nine buzzsaw is a fan favourite and will probably play on the first line.
“He’s a guy who’s an energy-type of guy. Excites the crowd. Excites his teammates,” Mellott said.
#16 Eric Uba – forward
Eric Uba was acquired in a trade with the Flint Firebirds in August.
Uba is from Kitchener, Ont., and scored 19 goals while adding 23 assists in 67 games last season.
“He’s got decent size,” Mellott said of the six-foot, 181-pound right shot.
“He plays your typical north and south game and he plays the board very well. He should be a good two-way addition.”
#17 Pavel Gogolev – forward
Pavel Gogolev enters his first full season with the Storm after he was acquired from Peterborough in December 2018.
He has 86 points in 156 in the OHL and attended the Vegas Golden Knights rookie camp over the summer.
Mellott said Gogolev is another Storm player who should have been drafted in the NHL.
“Last year, the broken ankle really messed up his season, but in pre-season, it looks like he’s back in form,” Mellot said, adding that Gogolev is probably the fastest skater on the team.
#19 Marko Sikic – forward
Marko Sikic is another rookie the Storm drafted in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection.
He played minor hockey in Kitchener and collected 19 goals and 30 assists in 33 games.
Sikic is listed at six feet one inch and weighs 175 pounds.
“It’ll be a developing year for him, but he looks like somebody who, over the next couple of years, will be a pretty solid forward for them,” Mellott said.
#21 Ty Collins – forward
Ty Collins is heading into his second season with Guelph after being selected in the second round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection.
He scored six goals and added 10 assists in his rookie season.
In the 2017-18 season, he collected 31 goals and 37 assists for the York Simcoe Express in minor midget triple-A.
“He’s one of these forwards that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Mellott said. “He just plays a good, solid hockey game.”
#22 Ben McFarlane – forward
Ben McFarlane was drafted by the Storm in the sixth round of the 2018 OHL draft.
He played his first OHL game on Nov. 16, 2018, and finished the season with two points in 13 games.
He also played for the Cambridge Redhawks of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League and recorded 37 points in 46 games.
“He’s small but energetic,” Mellott said. “He’ll hit anybody — five-foot-eight or six-foot-four, he doesn’t care.”
#24 Matthew Papais – forward
Matthew Papais spent the majority of last season in the Great Ontario Junior Hockey League with the Brantford 99ers.
He totalled 41 points in 53 games for Brantford and only played 12 games for the Storm.
Papais was selected in the seventh round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and Mellott expects him on the Storm’s third line this year.
“He looks very comfortable with the puck,” he said.
#27 Jacob Roach – forward
Jacob Roach signed as a free agent in April 2019 and has trouble cracking an OHL lineup.
He was selected by the Sudbury Wolves in 2016 but spent last season in the Greater Ontario Hockey League with the St. Catherines Falcons while attending Brock University.
He posted 93 points in 47 games.
“Roach is somebody who looks as if he can be a goal scorer,” Mellott said. “He had a couple goals during the preseason.”
#28 Cooper Walker – forward
Cooper Walker was drafted in the fifth round by the Guelph Storm in 2018.
He played Junior A hockey last year with the Kitchener Dutchmen and recorded four goals and 11 assists in 47 games played.
The son of Storm alumnus Scott Walker, Mellott said the hockey genes are evident.
“He’s very comfortable with the puck, cycles the puck well, but needs to build up the body strength,” Mellott said.
The Storm will begin their season on Friday night against the Ottawa 67’s. Mellott said overall they look like a very fast team that moves the puck well and competes hard.
“So you add all of that up and it should be a team that makes the playoffs,” he said.
Fans can catch all of the games on 1460 CJOY throughout the season.