Storm Outlast Sting In Shootout

Its funny how sports work out sometimes. Former Guelph Storm (and Guelph native) turned Sarnia Sting forward and overager Stephen Pierog had the opportunity to extend a shootout and give the Sting a chance for the victory. Pierog beat former teammate Justin Nichols but couldn’t beat the post as the Storm walked away with a 4-3 victory via the skills competition Friday night in front of 4,811 at the Sleeman Centre.

The Sarnia Sting (24-22-4-3) made their first visit to the Sleeman Centre since an embarrassing 13-1 rout exactly 11 months ago at the tail end of the 2013/14 Ontario Hockey League season. While the Sting had already gotten some revenge in a 5-2 victory over the Storm at the RBC Centre a month ago they would certainly love to return to the scene of the crime and walk away with two points but on this night they had to settle for one despite firing a mind boggling 61 shots at Storm netminder Justin Nichols.

In the first period alone on Friday night Sarnia registered 20 shots on the Guelph goal thanks in large part to nine minutes of power play time including a full five minute major after an ill timed check by Storm forward Tyler Hill sent him to the showers just 13:43 into the game. Hill was trying to check Sting defenceman Kevin Spinozzi along the boards between the benches but as Hill leaned into the hit Spinozzi slipped and half fell down allowing Hill to crunch Spinozzi’s head into the boards. Regardless of intent it was a check to the head anyway you slice it but the Storm penalty kill responded with a solid five minutes in addition to a pair of minors Guelph had killed off earlier in the opening frame to keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes despite the 20-7 tally on the shot clock favouring the visitors.

Sarnia however would jump ahead early in the second period as Nikita Korostelev managed to snap a shot away while the puck lay in the feet of Phil Baltisberger in the slot and past Nichols for a 1-0 advantage. Guelph had very few dangerous chances in the middle stanza but it was a shot that didn’t appear to be that harmless that would tie the game at the 6:48 mark as an off balance Tyler Bertuzzi snapped a weak shot over the shoulder of Taylor Dupuis. The puck appeared to change direction on its way to the goal and the tally was originally credited to Givani Smith but was later changed to Bertuzzi’s 39th of the season. Sarnia would regain the lead later on at 13:22 as a Zachary Core pass from the half boards found a streaking Alexandre Renaud in the slot who fired the puck off the post and in for a 2-1 Sting lead through 40 minutes.

Guelph didn’t appear to look anymore dangerous in the opening minutes of the third period as the Sting extended their lead to 3-1 at 2:48 when Anthony Salinitri collected his 6th of the season and 5th since joining the Sting in a deadline trade with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Not only did the two goal lead not last long for the Sting but a one goal lead didn’t last either as the Storm out of no where connected for a pair of goals 59 seconds apart to tie the game 3-3. First at 3:21 a Tyler Bertuzzi shot from the half boards tipped off the stick of Pius Suter and past Dupuis to bring the score to 3-2 on Suter’s 28th of the campaign. Then at 4:20 on a 3 on 1 rush Chris Marchese fed Matthew Hotchkiss who collected his 6th of his rookie season with a wrister past Dupuis for the tie game.

Penalty killing seemed to be the name of the game for the latter stages of the third period as first the Sting had to kill off a too many men penalty before Guelph found themselves down two men with Garcia and Smith in the box for boarding and delay of game respectively. Just as the Garcia penalty came to an end Tyler Bertuzzi found himself sprung on a breakaway and even though he was foiled by Dupuis was given an extra chance in the form of a penalty shot at 18:25 after a hook during the initial attempt. Unfortunately for Bertuzzi and the Storm the puck could never seem to settle down during the solo attempt and the Sting continued to try to connect on the late power play but were unsuccessful and overtime was needed. The Storm found themselves a man short yet again in the extra frame as Givani Smith went off at 1:42 for delay of game. Despite being down a man it was the Storm with the best chance of overtime as the short handed magician himself Pius Suter was robbed on a breakaway when Taylor Dupis flashed the leather sending the game to a shootout.

Things appeared bleak for the Storm early as Suter was stopped by Dupuis on the first Guelph attempt while Sarnia was successful on their opening chance with Nikita Korostelev going back hand cheese for the shootout lead. Chris Marchese would follow up for Guelph with a shot that knocked off water bottle for the tie. After a Nichols save on Jordan Kyrou, Tyler Bertuzzi put the Storm ahead which led to Pierog having a chance to upset his former team but was denied by the post to hand the Storm the win. Justin Nichols was named first star with 58 saves on 61 shots through 65 minutes while Taylor Dupuis who was equally as impressive though less busy had to settle for the loss with 23 saves on 26 shots in the game.

With the win the Storm managed to keep pace with the London Knights and the Kitchener Rangers who were both victorious in the Ontario Hockey League on Friday evening.

The night wasn’t all good news for the Storm however as captain Jason Dickinson left the game mid way through the first period after he was checked by Jakob Chychrun as he attempted to power past the first overall pick with the puck. Dickinson lay on the ice in pain for several moments before heading to the Storm dressing room where he stayed for the remainder of the game. Official word had Dickinson out with a bruised and sore sternum.

The Storm return to the ice on Monday afternoon for a family day matinee game against the Windsor Spitfires who make their second and final visit to the Sleeman Centre in 2014/15 as they continue to pursue Saginaw for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.


  • The victory improves the Storm’s record to 30-20-2-2 for 64 points, 4th in the Western Conference

  • Guelph remains a single point behind 3rd place London while holding a three point edge over their highway 7 rivals from Kitchener, though the Rangers have a pair of games in hand.

  • Guelph’s home record improves to 16-8-2-1

  • Guelph has an overall record of 4-2 in shootouts this season, 3-1 on home ice

  • Tyler Bertuzzi’s 39 goals has him in a three way tie for the league lead with Joseph Blandisi from the Barrie Colts and Christian Dvorak from the London Knights.

  • Bertuzzi’s assist on the Pius Suter goal gave him 80 points on the season 23 more than the next highest on the Storm (Dickinson with 57) and tied for 6th in the league with Connor McDavid and Max Domi

  • Jason Dickinson saw the end of a 4 game point streak in which he had collected 4 goals and 7 assists for 11 points. Dickinson had 17 points in the 7 games leading up to the game against the Sting

  • Tyler Bertuzzi is on a 5 game point streak where he has collected 5 goals and 3 assists for 8 points

  • The game was the 100th in the OHL for Swiss import Phil Baltisberger who collected two assists in the milestone contest

  • The Storm went a very impressive 8 for 8 on the penalty kill, however they were 0 for 4 with the extra man in their favour
  • Guelph and Sarnia are now tied in their season series with one win each, though Sarnia has collected 3 of a possible 4 points against the Storm

  • Guelph returns to Sarnia on Sunday, March 8th

  • Sarnia will return to Guelph on Sunday, March 22nd the final day of the regular season.

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