by Eric Balnar, Guelphstorm.com
It is a game Guelph Storm fans will never forget.
In emphatic form, Guelph defeated the Sarnia Sting 13-1 to officially clinch top spot in the Ontario Hockey League in front of five thousand insanely loud fans on Friday night.
It’s the largest margin of victory in franchise history and tied for the most goals scored by a Storm team in a single game.
Those aren’t the only significant numbers eclipsed in this game. The Storm surpassed the franchise goals scored mark – previously held by the 94/95 team – and now own a new record of 339.
But most importantly, for the first time since 1997/1998 the Storm clinched the Hamilton Spectator Trophy for the post points in a regular season.
And they did it more than spectacular fashion.
Winnipeg Jets prospect Scott Kosmachuk scored four goals, giving him 48 on the year and 119 in his Storm career. That’s just one goal shy of legend Jeff O’Neil for #2 on the all time list.
Brock McGinn had four helpers, Nick Ebert had a four point night, Kerby Rychel chipped in with a pair of goals, Zac Leslie had three points and nine other players had at least a point.
Even though there were plenty of fine performances and a bucket-load of things to cheer about, perhaps the moment that sparked the loudest reaction came on the 13th goal of the game.
Entering play, Phil Baltisberger was the only Storm skater not to have scored this season. That changed when a puck drifted to the point and Baltisberger whipped it home to grab his first ever OHL goal and a priceless reaction from teammates.
The result of the contest was never in doubt. Kosmachuk scored his first two goals midway through the first before Guelph got two late ones from Fabbri and Dickinson to have the home side up 4-0 through 20 minutes.
Sarnia snagged their lone goal in the middle period but still trailed 6-1 after two.
Then came that third period.
It felt like the sold out Sleeman Centre crowd was on their feet the entire period. When Marc Stevens scored his second of the year on a sharp angle shot early in the period, there was a feeling that Storm fans were about to witness something special.
And they did.
The Storm just could not miss. Everything they touched turned to gold. Six more goals, seven for the period, and plenty of other chances. They even hit two posts.
It was as dominating performance as Guelph has had all season – and that’s coming from a team with 52 wins.
Lost in the magic was Justin Nichols who turned aside 19 of 20 shots to get his 35th win of the year. Nichols is one win away from tying a Storm franchise record for goalie wins in a season.
At the end of the day it’s only two points. It’s not a series win, an OHL championship or a Memorial Cup. But boy was it fun.
It was fan appreciation night and what could be a better gift to the best fans in the league?
Guelph has one game remaining in the 2013/2014 season before the playoffs start. They hit the road to try to avenge a 6-2 loss to the Owen Sound Attack.
The first round of the playoffs start next weekend vs. the Plymouth Whalers. Guelph hosts game one and two on Friday and Saturday.
Sarnia 0 1 0 – 1
Guelph 4 2 7 – 13
1st Period-1, Guelph, Kosmachuk 45 (McGinn), 8:45. 2, Guelph, Kosmachuk 46 (McGinn), 9:32. 3, Guelph, Fabbri 45 (Rychel, Ebert), 18:31 (PP). 4, Guelph, Dickinson 26 (McGinn, Finn), 19:14 (PP).
Penalties-Core Sar (hooking), 3:32; Lindberg Sar (hooking), 12:46; Chapman Sar (cross checking), 13:42; Chapman Sar (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 17:36; Ciccarelli Sar (cross checking), 17:36.
2nd Period-5, Guelph, Kosmachuk 47 (McGinn), 7:54. 6, Sarnia, Hodgson 9 13:42 (PP). 7, Guelph, Ebert 12 (Mitchell, Horvat), 17:35 (SH).
Penalties-Finn Gue (tripping), 3:40; Harpur Gue (cross checking), 9:12; Nikandrov Sar (high sticking), 10:22; Chapman Sar (elbowing), 10:44; Kosmachuk Gue (roughing), 12:10; Bushnell Sar (charging), 15:15; served by Auger Gue (too many men), 17:15.
3rd Period-8, Guelph, Stevens 2 3:43. 9, Guelph, Kosmachuk 48 (Leslie, Dickinson), 4:42. 10, Guelph, Leslie 14 (Suter), 7:03. 11, Guelph, Rychel 33 (Ebert, Leslie), 9:45. 12, Guelph, Rychel 34 (Fabbri, Mitchell), 13:30. 13, Guelph, Ebert 13 15:20. 14, Guelph, Baltisberger 1 (Stevens, Trojanovic), 16:50 (PP).
Penalties-Bushnell Sar (high sticking), 16:02.
Shots on Goal-Sarnia 9-8-3-20. Guelph 16-18-27-61.
Power Play Opportunities- Sarnia 1 / 4; Guelph 3 / 9.
Goalies-Sarnia, Barrick 5-15-0-1 (61 shots-48 saves). Guelph, Nichols 35-7-1-0 (20 shots-19 saves).
Referees-Brent Coulombe (2), Chris Carnegie (44).
Linesmen-Cory Piche (87), Ryan Holmstead (91).