Persistence lastly pays off for Guelph Storm goaltender

Dixon Grimes waited a long time for Friday night.

Three years to be precise, as the 19-year-old goaltender, drafted in 2019, made his first start for the Guelph Storm Friday night at the Sleeman Centre.

It was bittersweet, enjoying the big moment but disappointed with the outcome, a 4-3 loss to the Oshawa Generals.

Guelph falls to 1-6-1-0 on the season, the worst record in the entire OHL.

“I just stuck with it. Junior B, kept training hard every summer to hopefully make it, and I did this year,” said Grimes, the son of former Guelph Storm associate coach Jake.

“There’s times I doubted it and you never know in this league, because opportunity comes and goes. But I’m thankful I stuck with it and worked through it.”

The key was to remain positive and believe in yourself.

“Don’t let anyone else tell you it’s over for you. You only quit when you decide to. Don’t let anyone else decide that for you.”

Grimes was drafted in the 10th round of the 2019 OHL draft by Guelph but spent the next three years with the junior B Listowel Cyclones.

He made the team this season as the backup to Jacob Oster and got in one game, a 20-minute mop-up appearance in a blowout loss to Saginaw. Granted, his lack of action this year was in part due to a leg injury suffered in the pre-season.

Just being motivated in the rink kept him.

“Working with the athletic therapist, being around the rink and the guys, just counting down to this day,” Grimes said.

He played well Friday, despite only facing 18 shots. His biggest save of the night was a post-to-post pad stretch to rob an Oshawa player on his doorstep early in the third.

The one he’d really like to have back was the game winner, which came at 9:41 of the third period.

Oshawa’s Beckett Senecke raced down the right wing, turned Storm defenseman Michael Bushinger inside out before getting off a quick shot that Grimes got a piece of, only to see it squeeze between his arm and body before dribbling into the net.

“It was good to get this first one out of the way, I was pretty nervous for it. But settled in pretty quickly. I’d like to get that fourth one back, but that’s the way it goes. The boys battled hard, it was close, I just have to come up with more saves,” Grimes said.

Guelph was better Friday, but you don’t get points for that.

They cut down on the penalties and played a decent game in their own end. It was the other end that was the issue, with sustained pressure again lacking and offense coming primarily from one line.

Danny Zhilkin, Sasha Pastujov and Cooper Walker had the Guelph goals.

The Storm was missing Matt Poitras (first game of a two-game suspension), and Niko Minkkinen, Cedricson Okitundu and Chase Coughlan to injury and healthy scratch.

Guelph plays a rare Saturday night home game Oct. 23 when Kitchener visits. Game time is 7pm

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