The Windsor Spitfires had the Guelph Storm spinning around in circles.
The OHL West division leaders came into the Sleeman Centre Friday night and defeated the Storm 7-4.
Windsor came out flying right off the opening face off. Alex Christopoulos scored 53 seconds into the first for a 1-0 Spitfires lead. Then Oliver Peer made it 2-0 for Windsor on the power play at the 2:52 mark.
The Spitfires would go up 4-0 on goals by Matthew Maggio and Christopoulos. Christopoulos’ goal would chase Storm netminder Patrick Leaver (7 saves) out of the game. He was replaced by Brayden Gillespie (10 saves) at the 12:16 mark of the first period.
“We got out-competed,” said Storm captain Cooper Walker of that first period. “That’s not our game. When we are out-competing our opponents, we have success so we have to get back to that.”
Guelph (30-27-4-1) would finally get on the board when Max Namestnikov scored his 30th of the season and the Storm trailed 4-1.
With the Storm down 5-1 in the second, Guelph started to claw their way back.
Jett Luchanko (1 goal, 1 assist) scored 31 seconds after Christopoulos’ third goal of the game. Then Namestnikov got his second of the game on the power play and the Storm found themselves back in the game down 5-3 after two periods.
But the momentum was dashed in the third period when former Storm forward Jacob Maillet (1 goal, 3 assists) restored the three-goal for Windsor (39-16-4-2) with a short-handed marker.
Guelph head coach Chad Wiseman felt the team’s inability to capitalize on their power play opportunities (2 for 10 in the game) was the difference.
“I think we were having opportunities to get ourselves to win games, to finish games,” said Wiseman. “The last three games, we’ve given up three short-handed goals and it has cost us opportunities to win hockey games.”
After the game, the Storm — now mired in a three-game losing streak — had a player’s only meeting in hopes of trying to sort things out with six games left in the regular season before the playoffs.
“We can’t play 20 minutes, 40 minutes a night, we got to play a full 60 in this league,” Walker said. “When we play a full 60, we know that we have a chance to win every single game.”
Shane Wright had a goal and two assists while Joey Costanzo stopped 25 shots for the Spitfires. Maggio’s first period goal gave the Islander draft pick 48 on the season and 99 points, both tops in the OHL.
Despite the loss, the Storm were able to clinch a playoff spot when Sault Ste. Marie lost to Sarnia on Friday night. They remain tied with Flint for fifth in the OHL’s Western Conference with 65 points, one point up on Kitchener.
The Storm will have a few days to rest before they welcome the London Knights on Wednesday. You can catch the game on 1460 CJOY. The broadcast starts at 6:45 p.m.