Guelph Storm gets its mojo back in big win over Prince Albert (10 photos) – GuelphToday

Guelph Storm gets its mojo back in big win over Prince Albert (10 photos) - GuelphToday
Suzuki scores twice, Storm eliminate Raiders from Memorial Cup
The London native and Montreal Canadiens prospect had two goals and an assist as Guelph beat the WHL champion Raiders 5-2 on Tuesday, eliminating Prince Albert

Guelph Storm's Nick Suzuki celebrates after he scored against the Prince Albert Raiders in first period Memorial Cup action in Halifax on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Andrew Vaughan / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Guelph Storm rebounded from a sub-par effort two nights ago with a near-dominant performance against the Prince Albert Raiders Tuesday, wrapping up the round-robin portion of their Memorial Cup with a 2-1 record following a 5-2 victory over the Western Hockey League champions.

HALIFAX — Nick Suzuki put an end to the season for the Prince Albert Raiders, while also giving his Guelph Storm a chance to go directly to the Memorial Cup final.

"We showed some improvement," said Storm coach George Burnett. "We don't need to play like the Globetrotters. We need to play hard and take care of the puck. If we do we will score some pretty goals."

Guelph Storm gets its mojo back in big win over Prince Albert (10 photos)

The London native and Montreal Canadiens prospect had two goals and an assist as Guelph beat the WHL champion Raiders 5-2 on Tuesday, eliminating Prince Albert from the four-team tournament.

“In order for the Storm to win the tie-break formula under this scenario the Huskies must win by one goal with a score of 5-4 or higher, win by two, three or four goals (other than a 4-0 shutout.”

The OHL champion Storm (2-1) are turning their attention to Wednesday’s final round-robin game that will decide which one of the three remaining teams goes straight to the championship.

"We just wanted to come out with a strong head on our shoulders and play with a little more confidence than we did in our last game and we did that," Storm captain Isaac Ratcliffe said.

“We knew we had to up our compete level, win more battles. I thought we did a good job of that,” said Suzuki.

Guelph must now wait for the final round robin game Wednesday between Halifax (2-0) and Rouyn-Noranda (1-1) to find out if they play in the semifinal on Friday or go straight to the final on Sunday.

“We’re definitely happy, but we have to watch this next game to see where it takes us, but we know we are in at least the semifinals.”

The host Halifax Mooseheads (2-0) play the Quebec league champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1-1) to wrap up the preliminary-round portion of the tournament on Wednesday (7 p.m., SN, TVA Sports).

It was a 2-2 game after 20 minutes, but the Storm's Liam Hawel fired home a power play goal from the top of the slot early in the second to give Guelph the lead for good.

A Halifax win would send the Mooseheads directly to the final with a 3-0 record, while a Huskies victory would leave Halifax, Guelph and Rouyn-Noranda with 2-1 records and needing a tiebreaker to determine playoff seeding.

“We can’t control anything that happens in that game, we just have to watch it. They don’t really like each other, so hopefully it’s a hard competitive game,” said Suzuki.

Fedor Gordeev and Liam Hawel added goals for the Storm (2-1) while Sean Durzi tacked on two helpers for a tournament-leading seven points in three games. Anthony Popovich made 19 saves.

Sean Montgomery and Dante Hannoun scored for the Raiders (0-3). Brayden Pachal had two assists as Ian Scott stopped 20 shots.

“Not the way we wanted to finish for sure,” said Raiders coach Marc Habscheid. “I’m disappointed for the guys right now.

"We tried to come back with a little bit more pace tonight. That comes with energy and that comes with rest."

“Tonight we were gassed. Just didn’t have much of a tank, so that’s the tournament.”

WHL champions have struggled in recent years at the Memorial Cup and this time around was no different.

If Halifax wins, or loses by one goal, with a score less than 5-4, the Mooseheads go straight to the final.

The Raiders dropped three games in a row at the national major junior hockey championship to be sent home early.

Tuesday’s loss was the 13th in a row for the WHL at the four-team competition, in the past five tournaments.

The last time the WHL champion won a contest was the 2015 semifinal, when the Kelowna Rockets beat the Quebec Remparts before falling to the Oshawa Generals in the final to start the streak of defeats.

If Rouyn-Noranda wins 4-0, or by five goals or more. they go straight to the final.

Suzuki picked up the puck near centre and skated over the blue line before sending a cross-ice pass to Gordeev, who beat Scott high blocker at 10:18 of the first to open the scoring.

"We got our chances tonight and the best part about it was that we capitalized on them too."

The Raiders responded less than two minutes later when Montgomery deflected a Noah Gregor point shot through Popovich only eight seconds into a power play.

An emotional Prince Albert coach Marc Habscheid said his team was running on fumes against the Storm.

Ratcliffe got the better of Pachal in a battle between the captains to restore Guelph’s lead, toe-dragging around the Prince Albert defenceman before sliding a backhand between Scott’s legs at 15:18.

The Storm looked to be heading into the break up 2-1 only for Hannoun to tip one by Popovich with 44 seconds to go in the period.

Hawel snapped one glove side on Scott for a 3-2 advantage just 1:21 into the second, and Suzuki doubled the lead as he got in behind the defence and finished off a pass from Ratcliffe at 5:02.

Despite being down two and their season on the line, the Raiders weren’t showing the urgency they needed and didn’t get a shot on Popovich until 11 minutes into the period.

Suzuki put the game out of reach for good at 6:42 of the third when he banked the puck into the net off the back of Scott’s pad from the goal line.

“There was some improvement from Games 1 and 2 here tonight, managed the puck better, played with the lead better,” said Storm coach George Burnett. “When we were a little sloppy we got through it.

“I think it’s important for us to get some rest. Make sure our energy is high for the next opportunity.”

An emotional Marc Habscheid tried to sum up a season of adversity after the Prince Albert Raiders were eliminated from the Memorial Cup Tuesday night in Halifax.

"I'm just kind of disappointed for the guys right now," said a subdued Habscheid, whose Raiders lost 5-2 to the OHL's Guelph Storm and finished the tournament 0-3.

"Tonight we were gassed," the Raiders coach said. "I could tell in the first two shifts that their heart was it and they tried, but they were done. They gave everything they could, but it just wasn't going to happen.

"They were fresh and we just didn't have much in the tank. We couldn't generate much."

"Just a bunch of guys that got laughed at three, four years ago. Got sand kicked in our face and our franchise was made fun of. Our players, everyone, we were all made fun of. We were no good and (told) our midget team was better than us but we just stuck together"

"They faced a lot of adversity. We had the death of our head scout (Ron Gunville) midway through the season.

The death of former head coach Donn Clark, and of Adam Herold who lost his life in the Humboldt Broncos bus crash last year, also weighed heavily on the team.

"I lost my father," said Habscheid, choking up. "Those young men in there helped me through that. They are just like my adopted kids."

Tuesday night saw Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki put an end to the season for the WHL champion Raiders, while also giving his Guelph Storm a chance to go directly to the Memorial Cup final. He had two goals and an assist.

The OHL champion Storm (2-1) are now turning their attention to Wednesday's final round-robin game that will decide which one of the three remaining teams goes straight to the championship.

The host Halifax Mooseheads (2-0) play the Quebec league champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1-1) to wrap up the preliminary-round portion of the tournament. It's a rematch of the QMJHL final that the Huskies took in six games.

A Halifax win would send the Mooseheads directly to the final with a 3-0 record, while a Huskies victory would leave Halifax, Guelph and Rouyn-Noranda with 2-1 records and needing a tiebreaker to determine playoff seeding.

Raiders captain Sean Montgomery and Dante Hannoun scored for the Raiders (0-3). Brayden Pachal had two assists as Ian Scott stopped 20 shots.

WHL champions have struggled in recent years at the Memorial Cup and this time around was no different.

Tuesday's loss was the 13th in a row for the WHL at the four-team competition, dating back five tournaments.

Montgomery, who has played more games in the green and white jersey, said it will take time to get over the loss.

"Just two years ago we were almost dead last in the league and now we're champions of the (WHL), but it sucks pretty bad right now."

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.