If you hopped into a time machine and went back to before the London Knights and the Guelph Storm started their OHL Western Conference semi-final series, you would hear all kinds of descriptions regarding what it was expected to be like.
“Easy” would not be one of them.
The Guelph Storm held on to win a game they had to win, 4-3 at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph on Wednesday night to prevent the London Knights from taking the series in four straight.
“We got away from our game in the second,” said Dylan Hunter. “We got a little excited with the energy in the building and I think we lost focus. Now we’ll look at playing focused hockey for 60 minutes and we’ll try to win one in our .”
Hunter pointed to a couple of things defensively that he felt the Storm were able to take advantage of offensively.
“We’ll look back at what led to their goals, which was not getting the puck out and not getting the puck deep,” admitted Hunter.
With Guelph ahead 3-1 heading into the third period, Liam Foudy and Billy Moskal combined on a goal to make it 3-2 just 12 seconds after the opening faceoff. London continued to push and outshot the Storm 18-4 in the final 20 minutes. Liam Hawel extended the Storm lead to two goals with just over five minutes remaining and Alec Regula cut it to one again on a Knights power play just 44 seconds after that, but London could not find the equalizer before the final horn.
Londoner Nick Suzuki had a goal and two assists for Guelph and Storm forward Nate Scharr scored his first two goals of the series.
Guelph goalie Anthony Popovich had allowed seven goals on 22 shots in Game 3. He made 39 saves in the Storm net on Wednesday. Jordan Kooy stopped 27 shots for London, but saw a personal seven-game winning streak end.
The Knights were 2-for-5 on the power play. Guelph was 1-for 4.
Game 5 is Friday night at 7:30 at Budweiser Gardens in London.
Guelph came into Game 4 looking for their first lead in any game so far and got it on a power play in the first period. Nate Schnarr poked home a puck in the London crease for his third goal of the playoffs at 4:24.
The Knights tied the game at 17:32 of the opening period on a power play of their own. Alec Regula flipped a puck in front to Adam Boqvist and he scored his ninth goal of the post-season. That ties him with Owen Tippett of the Saginaw Spirit for the playoff lead.
Schnarr deflected a Dmitri Samorukov shot past Jordan Kooy less than five minutes into the second period to make it 2-1 Storm. Then, 47 seconds after that, a Nick Suzuki shot hit something in front and wound up in the Knights net for a two-goal Storm lead.
Off the faceoff to begin the third period, Liam Foudy of the Knights split the defence, went in and then dished a backhand pass to Billy Moskal and he scored to cut the lead to 4-3.
Liam Hawel and Alec Regula exchanged goals after that to close out the scoring.
Preview: Round 2 of the 2019 OHL Playoffs
Most points by a defenceman in the playoffs
Through eight games, Evan Bouchard of the London Knights has 19. That already matches last year’s leader on defence. Connor Timmins of the Soo Greyhounds had 18 points, but Sault Ste. Marie went four rounds. Ryan Ellis (now of the Nashville Predators) has the highest recent totals. He put up 31 points in 2009 and then 33 in 2010. The Spitfires won the Memorial Cup in both of those years.
The all-time record is held by Chris Pronger of the Peterborough Petes who had 40 points in 21 games in 1992-93.
Knights and Storm participate in U-18 OHL Priority Selection
On the ice, London and Guelph were playing Game 4; off the ice, they were drafting players. The Under-18 selection was held on Wednesday, which allows teams to pick players who played Major Midget this past season and were not selected as 16-year-olds.
London selected two forwards, Jacob Chantler of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs and Kolby Poulin of the Clarington Toros.
The Storm added three players. They took goaltender Felix Schnell of the Ottawa Senators Midgets in round one, defenceman Brendan Boyce of CIH Academy Green in round two and forward Gavin Brown of the North Bay Trappers in round three.
Three Chiefs find OHL homes in U-18 Priority Selection
Defenceman Connor Olson was picked third overall by the Erie Otters after an excellent year with the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs Major Midgets. The Chiefs themselves had a great season. The London Knights selected Jacob Chantler of the Chiefs with the 19th pick and then Erie went back to Elgin-Middlesex to take goaltender Bryce Walcarius who posted some fantastic numbers in 2018-19, including a goals against average of 1.78.
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