Category Archives: OHL Championship Series

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Guelph Storm Complete Historical Comeback, Crowned OHL Champions

GUELPH– Not many thought it was possible. If a team was given what the Guelph Storm had to endure this OHL Playoffs, the odds were slim. But the 2018-19 Guelph Storm isn’t just any other team. They epitomize perseverance, determination and conquering adversity on another pedestal. In three consecutive series, they experienced deficits. Two of those were on the brink of elimination.

But this pesky Guelph team never gave up. The Storm surged when their backs were against the wall. And now, they are on top of the Ontario Hockey League, claiming the J. Ross Robertson Cup for the fourth time in their franchise history by dethroning the Ottawa 67’s in six games.

“I can’t put this into words,” said Isaac Ratcliffe, who had two goals and two assists in the 8-3 rout of the Ottawa 67’s in Game 6. “The resiliency from this team is unbelievable, none that I haven’t seen before. I’ve never played for a team with this much skill, class and character.”
Guelph Storm Battled Adversity All Playoffs, Including Game 6 Against Ottawa

Every OHL season has its ups and downs. Whether it’s a slump during the regular season or being down in a playoff series, the adversity that a junior hockey team faces is integral in building character and toughness.

This is the Guelph Storm mantra. Against the Western Conference leading London Knights they were down 3-0. In the Western Conference Final against the Saginaw Spirit they were down 3-1. Finally, the OHL Championship presented its own challenges, as the Ottawa 67’s took a 2-0 series lead.

But the experience of coming back to win against London and Saginaw proved to be vital for Guelph. In the final four games of the OHL Championship, the Storm would outscore the 67’s 23 to 13. The final two games saw the Ottawa 67’s have early leads.

On the brink of elimination, Ottawa scored two goals to open Game 6, putting doubt and silence throughout Sleeman Centre. But the Storm players never wavered. After being outshot in the first period 13 to 12, Guelph began to surge in the second period, winning the puck battles and creating scoring chances. After the 67’s missed on two wide open nets to put the game out of reach, Guelph would score five unanswered goals, two of which came from their captain Isaac Ratcliffe, and one from Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki.

It is this belief in each other and the veteran leadership that enables the Storm to have success coming back from any deficit.

“We had a nice response in the second period,” said Burnett. “Being behind in two series helped us when we were down tonight. We stayed patient and we were able to find the puck to generate offence.”
 
The Storm Surges to Halifax for the Memorial Cup

Not only was Isaac Ratcliffe a pillar for this Storm team, but also the players Guelph acquired at the trade deadline. Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, after acquiring him from the Owen Sound Attack, generated 42 points this postseason (16 goals, 26 assists). This earned the young forward the Wayne Gretzky Trophy for MVP of the OHL Playoffs.

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mackenzie Entwistle, after being traded from the Hamilton Bulldogs, used his veteran leadership to be a pivotal asset for the Guelph Storm. Playing alongside Ratcliffe and Suzuki in Game 6, Entwistle was a +2 with one assist, adding to his seven goals and 14 assists for the entire postseason.

With Guelph’s fourth OHL Championship in franchise history, the team now prepares for its next challenge. The Memorial Cup, the holy grail of junior hockey, is up for grabs and the Storm will look to continue its hot streak playing alongside the best junior hockey teams in Canada. For these youngsters, it’s an opportunity to showcase their gifted offensive abilities on an even bigger stage.

“For me to have another chance to play for a Memorial Cup, I am so excited,” says Entwistle.
 
Two years ago, a championship seemed like an unattainable concept. But through hard work and a devoted ambition to be better, the sunny skies turned to clouds. And the clouds turned into a Storm that has now surged to the top of the Ontario Hockey League.

This team isn’t ready to give that up just yet.
The post Guelph Storm Complete Historical Comeback, Crowned OHL Champions appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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St. Louis Blues Prospect Alexei Toropchenko Shines for Guelph Storm

Alexei Toropchenko has taken notice of his drafted NHL team. Early Wednesday morning, the St. Louis Blues would secure a dramatic Game 7 victory over the Dallas Stars in double overtime. The 31-year-old Patrick Maroon would instantly become a hockey hero in St. Louis, scoring the goal that would send the Blues to the Western Conference Final.

695 miles away, at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ontario, an investment into the St. Louis Blues future will be taking the ice. Blues prospect Alexei Toropchenko, has been the anchor for the Guelph Storm offence, scoring four goals the past two games in the OHL Championship Series. His two goals in Game 3 propelled the Guelph Storm to defeat the Ottawa 7-2, handing the 67’s their first loss of this OHL postseason.

And for Storm head coach George Burnett, it’s now a whole new series for his team, leading up to Game 4 at home.

“It was important for us to respond in Game 3,” said Storm coach George Burnett. “When we look at the tape from Games 1 and 2, particularly from Game 2 where we had a chance to win the hockey game, our energy was low. I thought our energy was high (Monday). We did get some bounces, but that comes with a lot of hard work.”
Alexei Toropchenko Keeps Legacy of Late Father Alive with Stellar Hockey
Before becoming a pivotal forward for the Guelph Storm, Alexei Toropchenko grew up in Russia. His Father, Leonid Toropchenko, played professional hockey in Russia and spent two seasons in Springfield and Cleveland, competing in the American Hockey League. Like his Dad, Alexei possessed deep aspirations of playing professional hockey. It is why he made the ultimate sacrifice to travel across the ocean to North America, when he got selected by the Guelph Storm, in order to make his hockey dreams become reality.

“I got a grasp of hockey in North America,” says Toropchenko. “Also, I have learned English, which is helpful. (Teammate and best friend Dimitri Samorukov) and I have English classes twice a week so now I understand more and can speak better.”

Life in North America was an adjustment for young Toropchenko. He had to adapt to the English language. Alexei was away from family, the people that provided him stability and support. The young forward’s ability to conquer personal adversity would be put to the test when Leonid passed away with a sudden heart attack. It was a loss that shook Alexei to the core, but it provided an opportunity for his Mom, Julia, to come be with him in Canada. Having his Mother close to Alexei was pivotal in his improved performance towards the end of last season. But as coach Burnett alludes, Toropchenko always exhibited sound hockey skills.

“His work and his compete and his hustle and willingness to block shots and cycle the puck and protect the puck, there are a lot of things that are good there,” affirms Burnett.  
Guelph Storm Offense Leading Comeback Charge in OHL Championship Series
With the win Monday night, the Guelph Storm are back in the OHL Championship Series. This pesky team has gelled with the offensive success of Alexei Toropchenko, along with Nick Suzuki, Isaac Ratcliffe and Mackenzie Entwistle, who each got two goals in Game 3. Toropchenko’s ability to create havoc in front of the net, as well as using his length and speed to create matchup problems, makes him an offensive force on the ice.

It is these qualities that attracted the St. Louis Blues to draft Toropchenko in the fourth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. In late 2018, a few months removed from his Father’s passing, young Alexei would sign his first NHL contract.

While his NHL affiliate St. Louis Blues are looking to advance to their first Stanley Cup Final since 1970, their young prospect Alexei Toropchenko is looking to tie the series in the OHL Championship. In back to back series, the Guelph Storm have come back from series deficits to win consecutive Game 7’s on the road. Their belief in themselves to have the ability to come back is felt throughout the locker room, particularly with Alexei Toropchenko.

With 17 goals and 26 assists for 43 points during the regular season, count on Alexei Toropchenko to provide more postseason magic, for a Guelph Storm team looking to etch themselves into the annals of junior hockey history.The post St. Louis Blues Prospect Alexei Toropchenko Shines for Guelph Storm appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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