By Aaron Bell
As an NHL player, Scott Walker enjoyed bursts of offensive production but nothing like what hes seeing now as the head coach of the Guelph Storm.
Walker played 16 seasons in the NHL and scored a career high 25 goals and 54 points in the 2000-01 season with the Nashville Predators. Now he's in his second full season behind the Storm bench and the 39-year-old from Cambridge has his team playing an up-tempo, offensive-minded style that has them tied for first place in the OHL standings.
The Storm have won five straight games and eight of their past nine and are the top scoring team in the league with 59 goals for in 12 games.
"We always wanted that - a high scoring, offensive team that was entertaining, I said that from the beginning," Walker told the Guelph Mercury after thumping the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 7-1 on the road on Sunday.
They have a 9-2-0-1 record and are tied with the Barrie Colts for first place in the OHL with 19 points despite playing one fewer game.
That success is coming from a balanced attack - nine Guelph players already have at least 10 points this season, including defencemen Matt Finn, Andrey Pedan and Zac Leslie.
"Everything is fun when you're winning," said Finn - the team captain. "It's great for the confidence of our younger guys and it's great because everyone is contributing. But we can't be satisfied with just winning and getting away with it."
Third year winger Scott Kosmachuk leads the way with nine goals and is tied with Tanner Richard for the team lead with 16 points.
Hunter Garlent and Jason Dickinson were Guelph's first two picks in the 2011 OHL Priority Selection and after paying immediate dividends as rookies last season, there were sky high expectations on both players coming into this season.
So far, they are delivering on those expectations. Garlent was named the OHL's player of the week after scoring eight points in three games last week and Dickinson has burst out of the gate with seven goals and 15 points.
"It's a lot of fun when the team is pumping on all cylinders," said Dickinson, who scored 13 goals and 35 points as a rookie last season. "Our success isn't specific to any one line. Everyone is contributing and what more could you ask for?"
Despite the success that has come from their tremendous offensive production, Walker isnt completely sold on his team's performance so far this year. They may be leading the Western Conference in wins but they are also the top team when it comes to penalty minutes and that's one area that their coach wants to see some improvement in.
"I'm not going to complain, but there are a lot of things we need to shore up," Walker said. "We also have to be disciplined."