13 sec­onds

Rangers quickly end OT against Storm

Waterloo Region Record - - Front Page - JOSH BROWN Water­loo Re­gion Record [email protected]­cord.com Twit­ter: @BrownRecord

KITCH­ENER — It’s an hour and a half be­fore puck drop and the mood is light on the vis­i­tor’s side at the Aud.

Mem­bers of the Guelph Storm are smil­ing as they exit the team bus. Some ex­change laughs as they make a run to a nearby Tim Hor­tons for a pre-game bev­er­age.

It has only been two days since the On­tario Hockey League club put the fin­ish­ing touches on a ros­ter re­make that has taken the Storm from com­peti­tor to cham­pi­onship con­tender.

But the changes are pal­pa­ble. “It’s hard to find words for it,” said Storm for­ward Nathan Sch­narr. “Not only does your con­fi­dence go up but you get a lit­tle bit of a swag­ger walk­ing into rinks.”

Sch­narr, a Water­loo na­tive, has en­dured some lean years since the Storm se­lected him in the third round in the 2015 OHL draft.

Dur­ing his rookie cam­paign, the Royal City bunch man­aged just 13 wins and fin­ished last in the 20-team league. As a sopho­more, Guelph im­proved but still didn’t get out of the base­ment in the western con­fer­ence.

Last sea­son they ended up fin­ish­ing sev­enth in the west.

“It has been tough,” said Sch­narr, who was drafted by the Ari­zona Coy­otes. “I’ve been here for some frus­trat­ing years. Now it’s time to re­ally go for it. It’s un­real to see that our own­er­ship and ev­ery­one be­lieves we can do it. Now it’s our turn to prove that we can.”

But the much hyped squad couldn’t solve the Rangers Fri­day at the Aud, fall­ing 4-3 in over­time.

Guelph had a 2-0 lead in the sec­ond pe­riod be­fore the Blueshirts bat­tled back. Jonathan Yantsis pot­ted his team-high 29th on the power play and Rickard Hugg added the equal­izer with 41 sec­onds to go in the stanza.

Rookie Isaac Lang­don looked to have the game-win­ner in the third but Guelph vet­eran Isaac Lang­don tied things up with 2:31 left in the tilt. Ri­ley Dami­ani capped the 4-3 over­time victory just 13 sec­onds into ex­tra time to snap Kitch­ener’s three-game los­ing streak.

The changes to Guelph’s ros­ter are stag­ger­ing.

The club ac­quired two Cana­dian world ju­nior for­wards in Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound) and Macken­zie En­twistle (Hamil­ton). The back end was boosted by Team Canada de­fence­man Markus Phillips and Sean Durzi, who also came over from the At­tack.

If that wasn’t enough, blue­liner Fe­dor Gordeev (Flint) and vet­eran Zachary Roberts (Owen Sound) were added too.

“I was hop­ing for a cou­ple of guys,” said Sch­narr. “You look at the ta­lent we have in our dress­ing room and it’s un­be­liev­able. It makes you prac­tise bet­ter and push each other more. The gym is bet­ter, the at­mos­phere is bet­ter, ev­ery­thing.”

And all those years of grind­ing it out? They’re all worth it now.

“Guelph gave us ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to de­velop when we were younger,” said Sch­narr. “It’s all about pa­tience. Right now you look at and it’s pay­ing off huge. I think the sky is the limit for us.”

Kitch­ener re­turns to the ice Sun­day when they host the Lon­don Knights at 2 p.m.

DAVID BEBEE WATER­LOO RE­GION RECORD

The Kitch­ener Rangers’ Ri­ley Dami­ani, left, was turned away by Guelph goalie Nico Daws on this chance, but he got the last word in over­time.

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