MONTREAL - The Guelph Storm completed an historic comeback in their series with the London Knights, and it's thanks in large part to Nick Suzuki.
After being held off the scoresheet in the first two games of the series against London, the Habs prospect opened the floodgates and scored at least a goal in each of the following five games and finished the series with an impressive 13-point haul.
Suzuki was an key player for Guelph in their Game 7 showdown on Tuesday night at Budweiser Gardens. The forward, acquired by Montreal in September, finished the night with three points (1G, 2A).
The 19-year-old affirms it was the wildest contest he's been a part of.
"Definitely. Just the situation, being in a game 7 - and in London, that was a really tough place to win," explained Suzuki. "When we were down, nobody thought we were out. It was a crazy game and one I'll remember, for sure."
Being a London native, the win tasted especially sweet for the Storm forward.
"It's very special to win there. They've been the team I've always watched my whole life. To play a Game 7 there, with what was done there, it was pretty special," recounted Suzuki, who was named the second star of the deciding game. "I had a lot of family and friends there to come watch and that made it even more special for me."
The win was an historic one, as it marked the first time in Ontario Hockey League (OHL) history that a team successfully came back from an 0-3 series deficit to beat the Knights.
"It's definitely cool. I'll be able to keep this memory for the rest of my life," he added. "We had confidence in each other that we could do it. It's nice to be part of history."
On the personal front, Suzuki is enjoying an exceptional playoff run. The former first-round pick (13th overall) in 2017 by the Vegas Golden Knights is currently second in the league with 10 goals and 20 points. He also leads all OHL players with three game-winners in the postseason.
Suzuki's performance did not go unnoticed; he was named the Canadian Hockey League player of the week for April 8-14 after lighting the lamp five times for 10 points in four games.
Still, the Habs prospect wasn't ready to declare that he was playing the best hockey of his career.
"I don't know," he said. "It's hard to say. I think I've been feeling really good. As a team, we're playing really well."
Speaking of the team, the line consisting of Suzuki, MacKenzie Entwistle, and Isaac Ratcliffe was dominant in Game 7 for Guelph. The three forwards were on the ice for all six goals in their team's 6-3 win over the Knights.
Suzuki took the opportunity to recognize his teammates and explained why the line has gelled so well of late.
"We have a lot of chemistry off the ice and we've known each other for a long time. It's fantastic to be able to play together," outlined Suzuki. "Those two guys had a big game for us last night."
Two keys to the comeback
When a team like the Storm are able to complete a comeback after going down 0-3, players will often point out a key moment that led to the turnaround. For Suzuki, that moment happened with a couple of games still to go in the series.
"I would say the turning point of the series happened in Game 5. We didn't play well in the first period in London, but to be able to win that game was huge for us. It allowed us to put a bit of doubt in their heads that we could come back in the series," affirmed Suzuki. "That was really a key moment for us."
Another important marker happened in Game 6 in Guelph. Not long before the game, former Storm defenseman Drew Doughty stopped by the team locker room to lend his support.
The message the Los Angeles Kings rearguard gave most certainly had a positive impact on the outcome of the game.
"He came to tell us he was cheering for us, even if he also comes from London. He gave us the example of when the Kings came back from 0-3 against the San Jose Sharks in 2014 to win it," recalled Suzuki. "That really motivated us to want to do the same thing they did."
With the series against the Knights behind them, Suzuki and his squad must now prepare to take on the Saginaw Spirit in the OHL semi-finals.
According to Suzuki, another big challenge awaits.
"They're a fast team with a lot of good players. They're a very similar team to London," mentioned the Storm centerman. "It's going to be another good test and we should do better than we did against the Knights."
The Storm's series against the Spirit gets underway on Thursday night at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw.