Another one goal spread gives Storm series win

Goals by Swiss import players Phil Baltisberger and Pius Suter 1:18 apart in the second period along with some superb goaltending from Justin Nichols allowed the Guelph Storm to hang onto a 2-1 victory over Owen Sound to defeat the Attack four games to one in their western conference quarter final series on Saturday night in front of 4,725 at the Sleeman Centre.

Owen Sound would open the scoring when Storm defenceman Noah Carroll turned the puck over to Ethan Szypula as he attempted to exit the Guelph zone. Szypula walked back into the Storm zone and fired a laser beam of a slap shot past Nichols to give the Attack a 1-0 lead.

Guelph spent most of the middle part of the opening period having trouble clearing the puck from their own end as the Attack dominated the puck possession game for several minutes before the Storm had a push back in the dying minutes. Jack Flinn didn’t seem to have any problem however as Owen Sound took their 1-0 lead into the dressing room along with a 13-10 edge on the shot clock.

While the opening minutes of the middle stanza seemed much of the same it would be some open ice that the Storm needed to take advantage. A slew of penalties mid way through the period began when Kyle Rhodes took exception to a high hit delivered by Jaden Lindo. The two took part in a spirited scrap that saw Lindo also penalized for his hit to the head and Rhodes penalized for instigating. Over the next couple of minutes Santino Centorame and Tyler Bertuzzi also found themselves in the penalty box creating a four on four situation. An unlikely source would provide Guelph with their first goal of the evening as Phil Baltisbeger drove toward the Attack net and somehow managed to slip the puck between a very narrow space between Jack Flinn and the post to tie the game 1-1 at the 10:51 mark. Moments after the goal the Attack found themselves on a power play with Centorame out of the box but Bertuzzi still in. During the Owen Sound power play however Pius Suter managed to strip the puck away from an Attack blueliner and break in alone putting the puck past Flinn’s blocker for a short handed marker to give Guelph the lead at 12:09.

Guelph’s 2-1 lead after 40 minutes was also accompanied by a 21-19 edge on the shot clock.

The final frame turned into a goaltenders dual with odd man rushes at both ends. Jack Flinn came up with some solid saves for Owen Sound but it was Justin Nichols who stole the show for the Storm. Nichols would stop 10 shots in the third period, many of which were quality chances by a desperate Owen Sound squad looking to extend their season by at least one game.

Storm fans had their hearts in their throats as Pius Suter was sent off for the dreaded delay of game penalty with 1:40 remaining. Owen Sound would enjoy a two man advantage as Flinn was pulled for the extra man over a frantic final 100 seconds.

Nichols would come up with a remarkable glove save off a Zach Nastasiuk shot from the top of the crease. The series saving stop drew a quick standing ovation from the crowd who then sat nervously back on the edge of their seats as Nichols withstood another barrage of Owen Sound chances over the final seconds before the buzzer mercifully sounded to give Guelph the 2-1 win in the game and the 4-1 series victory.

While Nichols seemed to be the busier of the two goaltenders it was Guelph who led the final shot count 34-29 as for the fourth straight game Guelph took victory by the margin of a single goal.

The victory also not only marked the first time in the series that the team that scored first didn’t win but also for the fifth straight series the Storm would clinch with a home ice victory in Game 5.

While the Owen Sound Attack saw their season come to an end on Saturday night the Storm now wait patiently for their second round opponent as they will go up against either the West Division champion Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds or the Midwest Division champion Erie Otters. Their opponent will be determined by the outcome of the London vs Kitchener series which continues with Game 6 Sunday night in Kitchener as the Knights lead that series 3-2. A London series victory will mean Guelph will go up against the Greyhounds while a Kitchener victory will give Guelph the Erie Otters for the second straight year. Regardless of their opponent the Storm are now without home ice advantage, something they have enjoyed since the start of the 2014 playoffs.


  • Suter’s winner was his first goal of the 2015 playoffs ending a four game goaless streak that dated back to the final regular season game on March 22nd against Sarnia

  • Suter had also been held pointless in the first four games of the series

  • Jason Dickinson’s assist on the Baltisberger goal ties him for the team lead in points with Tyler Bertuzzi, they each have 5. Baltisberger, Fabbri and Cairns each have 4.

  • The win was Nichols 20th career playoff win, all coming with the Guelph Storm

  • Despite winning the series in 5 games Owen Sound out scored the Storm 14-13 on the strength of a 6-1 victory in Game 1

  • Owen Sound also out shot Guelph in the series a total of 175-153

  • In 13 regular season and playoff games between the Storm and Attack in 2014-15, 9 games were decided by a 1 goal margin, a 10th game decided by 2 goals was thanks to an empty net goal

  • 5 of the 13 Storm vs Attack games were decided in extra time with overtime or shootout

  • In now 4 Owen Sound vs Guelph playoff series dating back to 1995 the Storm have been victorious in 3 series

  • Should the Storm face Sault Ste. Marie in the conference semi finals it will be the 4th playoff match up between the two clubs. Soo swept the Storm in a 2nd round series in 1994. The Storm were victorious in a 6 game series during the 2nd round in 1997. The Greyhounds then won a 5 game 2nd round series in 2008.

  • Should Guelph go up against the Erie Otters in the conference semi finals it will also be the 4th time the two clubs have gone head to head in the post season. The Storm have won all 3 previous series against Erie in 5 games. Guelph won first round match ups in 1997 and 1999 before winning last years conference final.

  • The Storm had faced the previous incarnation of the Erie Otters (the Niagara Falls Thunder) during the 1996 playoffs (the Thunder’s final season before moving to Erie) taking a 4 game sweep in the 2nd round

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