Guelph Storm goalie shines in OHL debut

But Storm still comes out on the short end of a 3-2 shootout loss to the Sarnia Sting

Brayden Gillespie didn’t get much sleep Saturday night.

Earlier in the day the 17-year-old goaltender signed with the Guelph Storm. Hours later he was between the pipes making his OHL debut against the Sarnia Sting.

“It was really quick and surprising and it was a shock to me, getting the call last night,| the Oakville native said of his whirlwind weekend.

“Chad (Wiseman) called me last night after my game with my Ayr team and I was just excited over the moon when he called and just really excited to get going.

“There was no sleep at all. Excited and nervous, all bottled up in one. But it’s all good.”

His official introduction to Storm fans had a ‘nervous rookie’ moment too, as Gillespie tripped stepping onto the ice when the starters were introduced.

“Just nerves kicking in … I hope that doesn’t go viral,” Gillespie said with a laugh.

Gillespie, 17, made 19 saves in regulation and two more in overtime – including the save of the night on a Marko Sikic wrister – before being beaten by a Nolan Burke shot on what was the lone goal of the shootout as the Storm lost 3- 2.

An 11th round draft pick by Guelph in the 2021 draft, Gillespie has been playing with their junior B affiliate, the Ayr Centennials, this season, where he had a 2.97 goals against average and a .918 save percentage.

He always hoped the day would come he’s be playing in a Storm jersey.

“I totally thought if I put the work in every day, every night, that hopefully the opportunity would present itself and it did.”

Like the rest of the team, the Storm’s goaltending hasn’t been good this season.

But Storm coach Chad Wiseman said Gillespie will head back to Ayr this week and the team will determine what the immediate future holds.

“He’s been working really hard and he’s worked his way into an opportunity,” Wiseman said of Gillespie.

“It hasn’t been determined yet (what the immediate future holds). He’ll go back down to Ayr and practice there and we’ll just take it one day at a time.”

With the loss the Storm drops to 4-12-2-1, still dead last in the Western Conference.

They played a responsible defensive game in front of Gillespie, as indicated by the Sting’s shot total, but had trouble on the power play (scoreless in three tries) and in the offensive zone in general.

Still, they led 2-1 until Burke scored a power play goal at 6:13 of the third period that would eventually force the overtime.

Matt Poitras and Cooper Walker had Guelph’s goals in regulation.

Danny Zhilkin, Sasha Pastujov and Valentin Zhugin were all stopped in the shootout by Sarnia netminder Ben Gaudreau.

“I thought the effort was good. We had some opportunities and just didn’t score. But any time you have 22 shots against in this league you’re doing something well,” Wiseman said.

The Storm was without regulars Michael Buchinger, Braeden Bowman, Jett Luchanko and Ryan McGuire on Sunday. Luchanko was flying home from the World Under 17 Challenge while the other three are injured. Of those, Buchinger is the closest to returning to action, hopefully this weekend.

Guelph hosts Niagara on Friday and Kitchener on Saturday at 4 pm.

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