The Erie Otters made a valiant comeback attempt against Guelph Sunday afternoon.
But the Storm held on for a critical 6-4 win against the Otters in front of 2,864 fans at Tullio Arena.
Guelph (28-31-2-4) moved two points ahead of Sault Ste. Marie in the race for the Western Conference’s final spot in the OHL playoffs. Both teams have three regular-season games left. The Storm also are one point behind seventh-place Windsor, which also has three games left.
Meanwhile, the Otters (10-49-3-3) moved one regulation loss closer to equaling the 2006-07 club’s franchise record of 50. The 2011-12 club already owns the mark for most overall losses in a season (55), which surpassed the 53 defeats in 2006-07. The 2011-12 club already is assured of setting the mark for fewest losses in a season. The Otters are five wins behind the 2006-07 team with three games left.
The Storm grabbed a 2-0 lead late in the first period, as Brock McGinn scored the first of his two power-play goals with 4 minutes, 36 seconds left. Hunter Garlent followed with a goal 2:04 later.
Guelph’s lead reached 3-0 on McGinn’s goal 9:49 into the second period. But the Otters began to mount their comeback with rookie Mitchell Eisenberg’s third career OHL goal 47 seconds later. The Storm regained a three-goal lead at 4-1 on Jason Dickinson’s goal with 40 seconds left in the period.
But the Otters capitalized on Storm winger Scott Kosmachuk’s four-minute penalty for high sticking early in the third. Dane Fox and Anthony Cortellessa scored with the man advantage 1:09 apart to move the Otters within 4-3 at the 5:11 mark of the period.
Kosmachuk answered with his 29th goal of the season, which handed the Storm a 5-3 lead, only to have Otters rookie Jake Evans score with 3:08 left. Evans’ goal pulled the Otters within 5-4. But Zack Mitchell scored into empty net with 37 seconds left – his 34th goal of the season – to seal the Storm’s win.
McGinn (two goals) and Garlent (goal, assist) paced the Storm, while Garret Sparks made 31 saves.
Adam Pelech had two assists for the Otters, which had only 15 skaters – three below the league’s maximum – for the second straight game. J.P Cesario, who joined the team last week on emergency loan from Owen Sound, stopped 25-of-30 shots in his Otters’ debut.
Storm 6, Otters 4
Erie 0 1 3 — 4
Guelph 2 2 2 — 6
1st Period — 1. Guelph, Brock McGinn 11 (Kosmachuk, Finn), 15:24 (pp). 2. Guelph, Hunter Garlent 14 (Pereira), 17:28. Penalties — McCarthy (E) interference, :20; Kosmachuk (G) tripping, :35; Harper (E) hooking, 3:04; Kosmachuk (G) interference, 4:56; Pelech (E) tripping, 14:53.
2nd Period — 3. Guelph, McGinn 12 (Kosmachuk, Finn), 10:11 (pp). 4. Erie, Mitchell Eisenberg 3 (McCarthy), 10:58. 5. Guelph, Jason Dickinson 12 (Gaskin), 19:20. Penalties — Donnay (E) interference, 1:23; Pereira (G) holding, 6:02; Evans (E) slashing, 8:49; Maaskant (E) roughing, 18:49; McNaughton (G) roughing, 18:49.
3rd Period — 6. Erie, Dane Fox 22 (Pelech, Cairns), 4:02 (pp). 7. Erie, Anthony Cortellessa 7 (Pelech, Brown), 5:11 (pp). 8. Guelph, Scott Kosmachuk 29 (Garlent), 15:20. 9. Erie, Jake Evans 11 (unassisted), 16:52. 10. Guelph, Zack Mitchell 34 (unassisted), 19:23 (en). Penalties — Menard (G) tripping, :19; McCarthy (E) instigator, :19; McCarthy (E) 5-min. fighting, :19; Pedan (G) 5-min. fighting, :19; McCarthy (E) 10-min. misconduct, :19; Kosmachuk (G) 4-min. high sticking, 3:12; Harper (E) roughing, 4:57; Finn (G) roughing, 4:57.
Shots on goal — Guelph, 11-13-7—31; Erie, 9-10-16—35.
Goaltenders — Guelph, Garret Sparks 25-25-1-3 (35 shots, 31 saves); Erie, J.P. Cesario 0-1-0-0 (30 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Guelph (2-5), Erie (2-5).
Referees — David Gauthier, Steve Picco. Linesmen — Rick Janco, Mike Harrington.
Attendance — 2,864.
* Brock McGinn, Storm (2 goals) ** Scott Kosmachuk, Storm (goal, 2 assists) *** Anthony Cortellessa, Otters (goal)