Guelph Storm hits the vacation break on a optimistic notice

Braeden Bowman nets the winner in overtime as Guelph downs Sault Ste. Mary 5-4

The Guelph Storm might be sitting near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but there is a sense of optimism as the team hit the holiday break Saturday with a win.

Guelph downed the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 5-4 at the Sleeman Center Saturday afternoon.

They enter the holiday break in a three-way tie for seventh place in the West with a 12-16-3-1 record, pending action Sunday.

That might not be cause for celebration for a team most thought would be in the conference’s top tier, but they are 8-5 in their past 13 games and have definitely played better hockey than a start that saw them go 2-11 in their first 13 games.

“I think the best way to describe it is that we’re a lot better version of ourselves, individually and as a team,” said Storm coach Chad Wiseman.

“That says a lot about the character in the room, the personnel and the leadership. It all started with practice, with habits and preparation and how we prepare to play games. We’re starting to see some results from that.

“It was a struggle. No one likes losing … we dug ourselves out of that hole, but we have to make sure we don’t fall back in it.”

Braeden Bowman netted the winner Saturday at 1:37 of overtime, the 10th time this season Guelph has gone into extra time.

Bowman was trying to get off the ice after a long shift, but the puck skittered loose and he found himself on a breakaway from center ice. He buried a wrist shot past Samuel Ivanov’s glove hand for his second goal of the game.

The Storm forward said he’s finally feeling like his old self after missing 14 games with a lower body injury.

“It takes a while to get back to the pace and get back to the physicality,” Bowman said. “It was a nagging injury. I’m not fully at myself yet, but I’m coming slowly back.”

Bowman shared the opinion that the team is a different one that had such a horrid start to the campaign.

“Those problems that we had at the beginning of the year were almost self-inflicted sometimes: work ethic, sometimes cheating for offense. But we’ve really taken pride in our own end and once you do that, offense takes care of itself. “

He said the team has much more confidence as players establish their roles and execute them better.

“The second half should be really exciting,” Bowman said.

Max Namestnikov also scored twice and added an assist for the Storm, including the opening goal that brought the teddy bears raining from the stands on Teddy Bear Toss day. Jake Karabela had the other goal and Jacob Oster made 25 saves. Michael Buchinger had a three-assist game.

Guelph’s next game is in Windsor on Dec. 28. They then host Windsor Dec. 30

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