Guelph, ON – The Guelph Storm is headed to Game 7 once again, improving to 6-0 in elimination games with a 5-1 victory over the visiting Saginaw Spirit in Game 6 of the Western Conference Championship Series.
After erasing a 3-0 series deficit to charge back and eliminate the London Knights in the second round, the Storm have come back from the brink once again, climbing out of a 3-1 hole to set up Game 7 in Saginaw on Monday.
Pavel Gogolev (2, 3) scored twice while Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki (12) pulled off a highlight reel goal in the second period to increase his OHL Playoff production lead.
“Just good plays from both my linemates,” said Suzuki of his backhanded beauty that brought 4,692 at the Sleeman Centre to their feet. “Isaac took a hit down the boards and it led to Macker getting the puck and he just got it to me. I noticed it was a forward for their team so I wanted to try and get around him. It was an on-the-fly move but it worked out pretty well.
“The opportunity for another Game 7 for us is what we wanted,” he said of the club’s second comeback effort. “We were down 3-1 and we battled back so we have to finish the job.”
Gogolev took advantage of a Saginaw miscue 8:34 into the first period, snapping a shot up high over the shoulder of Spirit rookie Tristan Lennox.
Fedor Gordeev (2) kept the momentum going 2:28 into the second with a big blast through traffic before Suzuki scored his goal-of-the-year candidate to make it 3-0.
Sean Durzi (3) and Gogolev increased the Storm lead to 5-0 inside the opening two minutes of the third before Saginaw’s Jake Goldowski (3) snapped Guelph goaltender Anthony Popovich’s 125:40 shutout streak with 2:32 remaining in regulation.
“We know we’ve got to the better,” said Spirit head coach Chris Lazary of the effort. “When you look at shot attempts, we’ve got to hit the net. You can’t just have pucks flying around everywhere we’ve got to start hitting the net and getting traffic in front.
“It’s one game now, it’s going to be exciting and I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.”
Guelph outshot Saginaw 25-19, controlling the faceoff circle to the tune of 65.4%.
“We live for another day,” said Storm head coach George Burnett with a smile. “It’ll be an exciting night, a quick turnaround for both teams, the travel tonight and how we spend the next number of hours here preparing for tomorrow night is extremely important. A good rest, good eats, a good ride on the bus and enjoy this for a few minutes but then get refocused and be ready to start the game tomorrow night.”
Saginaw will have overage defenceman Justin Murray back in the lineup on Monday fresh off having served a four-game suspension.
The Spirit will have their hometown faithful behind them as they look to turn the tide of momentum and capture the franchise’s first ever Wayne Gretzky Trophy. The Storm have their sights set on claiming the prestigious honour for the third time.
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