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RECAP: Storm 5, Oil Kings 2

by Marc Ciampa / Edmonton Oilers

LONDON, ON - Two quick goals early in the second period gave the Edmonton Oil Kings the lead and some momentum but they couldn't hold on, dropping their Memorial Cup tournament opener 5-2 to the Guelph Storm on Saturday.

"We didn't get a win off the start but we've got to look at the positives. We proved to ourselves that we can compete at this level," said Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart. 

"There was some bonehead mistakes and some dumb penalties that cost us and we've got to fix that. We've got to realize it's not a seven-game series, it's one game against these teams. I think we'll learn from that and we'll be better."

The Oil Kings did outshoot Guelph 39-32. Head Coach Derek Laxdal echoed the thoughts of his captain.

"If you look at the first 10 minutes, it was a bit of a feeling-out process for both of the hockey clubs. I thought that once we figured out we could skate with Guelph we had a little bit of confidence in our game."

The Storm did have two power play goals while the Oil Kings went 0-for-5 on the PP.

"Special teams really let us down," Laxdal noted. "We have to figure that out pretty quick here and get ready for tomorrow night against London."

Photo by Getty Images

With a minute to play in the first, Aaron Irving received two minutes for roughing, sending Guelph on the power play for the first time and the Storm converted to make it a 1-0 game. Kerby Rychel picked up the puck in front of the net and wired it short side and high past Jarry to score the game's first goal.

Shots on goal after one period were 10 apiece.

It didn't take the Oil Kings long to get things going in the second period after scoring two goals in 27 seconds within the opening two minutes of the middle frame. 

Henrik Samuelsson's backhand attempt from the right faceoff circle somehow found its way past Storm goaltender Justin Nichols to get the Oil Kings back on even terms and just like that, the Oil Kings made it a 2-1 game. Curtis Lazar made a great pass to Ashton Sautner pinching in and he made no mistake, tapping it past Nichols for the goal.

"We came out with some good energy in the second period and we came out with the lead," said Laxdal.

Edmonton continued to take the play to Guelph and were rewarded with a power play as a result. They were unable to convert, however.

A penalty by Griffin Reinhart six minutes into the period sent Guelph back on the power play and they did find a way to convert.

With 44 seconds left in the Reinhart penalty, Jarry left the puck behind his net to Mads Eller but Eller's clearing attempt went off Rychel and in to tie the game up.

"It was a lucky bounce. It went off his stomach and went in the net," said Eller after the game. "At the moment it sucks but you've just got to reset and get back into the game. You can't do too much."

Jarry echoed the thoughts of Eller on the play.

"Things like that happen. You've just got to let it go and move on," he said. "It's part of the game. You've got to learn to let it go and that's one of things I can do is let it go quickly and get back to the game."

Guelph then regained the lead with five minutes to play in the second. Brock McGinn's shot went off the post and in to make it 3-2 Storm.

"If you look at the third goal, we had some zone time and had the D pinch, the way we want to play but we got stripped of it. That shows you the sign of a good hockey club," Laxdal remarked.

After two, shots on goal were 25-21 for Edmonton. 

Nearly six minutes into the third, Tyler Bertuzzi doubled the Guelph lead, taking the puck through the neutral zone and all the way to the hash marks before wiring the puck top corner for the 4-2 marker.

"That was a bit of a back-breaking for us," said Laxdal.

A turnover at the OIl Kings blueline led to another golden scoring chance for Guelph. Bertuzzi ripped a shot from the top of the right circle high past Jarry for his second of the game to make it a three-goal lead for the Ontario club.

Guelph had the edge early on, outshooting Edmonton 6-1 through the first portion of the opening frame of what was a physical contest right off the start.

The physicality boiled over four minutes in when Oil Kings defenceman Blake Orban dropped the gloves with Guelph's Ryan Horvat. Both fighters got their share of punches in but Orban was the one who ended up getting toppled over in the quick bout.

The Oil Kings started picking up the pace after the fight. By the time the period reached the midway point, the shot count was 7-6 in favour of the Western squad.

Best chance in the early-going went to Guelph's Robby Fabbri. The 2014 draft eligible centre nearly scored after deking out Edmonton starting goaltender Tristan Jarry but just narrowly missed the net on the backhand.

First power play of the game went to Edmonton. Guelph's Ben Harpur took two for cross-checking.

Oil Kings were unable to convert with the man advantage but shortly after it expired they looked like they scored the first goal after crashing the net. But after a quick review, it was ruled no goal.

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