Where: Leon’s Centre in Kingston
Time: 7 p.m.
Guelph Storm: 38 GP: 22-11-1-4 (49 pts – 3rd Midwest Div / 5th West Conf)
Kingston Frontenacs: 38 GP: 11-23-2-2 (26 pts – 5th East Div / 9th East Conf)
The Kingston Frontenacs came into the game off a 3-2 shootout win on Friday night looking to gain traction in the second of a five-game homestand. Sitting nine points back of Mississauga in the conference and Hamilton in the division has forced the hands of the Frontenacs to be in playoff-mode in January. While the Frontenacs have been trying to hunt down Mississauga for a while now, they could sit the same amount of points behind Niagara and Barrie in East Conference standings as well with a win.
Guelph added Washington Capitals prospect Martin Hugo Has in a trade from North Bay on Thursday. The 2019 import selection played for the Czech Republic at the recent World Junior Tournament. Goaltender Nico Daws was also at the tournament as a member of Team Canada’s gold-medal team and was honoured before the game with a plaque. Guelph is in a dogfight in the Midwest as one of three teams within two points of each other for the division lead but comes into Kingston having lost three-straight games. Pavel Gogolev and Cam Hillis lead the Storm offence with Gogolev sitting in second in OHL goals (30) and Hillis fourth in assists (40).
The last time the two clubs played was in Guelph on Nov 9 seeing the Storm down Kingston 4-2. That game saw Kington without head coach Kurtis Foster and Shane Wright as the pair were away at the U17 tournament.
Christian Propp, while not as busy as he has been in some games, took advantage of his team’s defence in front of allowing only one goal while killing a penalty to the now OHL leader in goals (Gogolev).
He made a beauty save off a one-time shot in the first period, where he was particularly good in a four-minute stretch that saw the Storm fire six shots on him to keep the game square earning his sixth win in Kingston uniform since the trade from Soo Greyhounds.
After a second consecutive win, the former Greyhound and Battalion goalie commented on sharing the net with Ryan Dugas saying: “It’s going well as a group. Dugas and I (as a goaltending duo) are taking the approach that it’s not about us but about the collective group.” A veteran attitude like this is as valuable as his on-ice play has been.
Game-Night Stat Check
- Wright needs one goal for 20
- Frontenacs Jordan Frasca has six goals and seven points in his last seven games
- Guelph added import defenceman Martin Hugo Has (Washington NHL 2018) from North Bay on Friday
- Kingston now has two players with 19 or more goals (Zayde Wisdom and Wright)after last season seeing former captain Ryan Cranford lead the team with that many after 66 games.
- Storm Pavel Gogolev had a point in 13 consecutive games coming in (16 goals, 11 assists)
Kingston head coach Foster has been stressing an approach by his team that sees a 60-minute effort by all and the desire to block shots and support your teammates. The coach got what he was looking for as the Frontenacs skated to a close 3-1 win over the visiting Guelph Storm on Saturday night.
A responsible game with only two penalties against saw Kingston get back to within seven points of a playoff spot. Martin Chromiak continues to shine since his arrival with a two-point night against the Storm and Christian Propp was solid once again only beaten once on 23 shots while Owen Bennett in the Storm net also was good and helped keep his team close stopping 25 of 27 shots.
After getting down an early goal in the team’s last game, Kingston looked much more ready to make their presence felt early tonight not allowing any Storm shots on Propp for the opening 10-minutes of play. During that opening half of the opening period, Wright and Vitali Pinchuk had Kingston’s best chances to get up a goal. Wright was in close and got two quick shots in succession on Bennett but couldn’t get it past the Storm starter. Minutes later, Pinchuk showed his gifted-hands, as he has a few times this season, and made a beautiful through-the-legs move to get by a Guelph defender before going in alone on Bennett and rifling a shot off the goaltender’s blocker.
The Storm tried to get some momentum back and got six shots over the next four minutes of play but Propp was solid and kept Kingston’s great start on par. He was forced to make a huge save off 12-minutes in when Ben McFarlene found himself alone in the slot and fired a one-timer looking for the go-ahead goal, but confident goalie made the save attacking the top of his crease.
The conclusion of the period saw Kingston get two scoreless powerplays but a shot by Jakob Brahaney off the post kept the game 0-0 going into first intermission.
Guelph had a developing chance on a two-on-one almost five minutes in but Brahaney was made a superb play laying down his stick at the right time and steering the cross-ice pass by Hillis out of harm’s way. Kingston kept up the physical game on Guelph in the second as rookie defenceman Braden Hache made a huge hit in the neutral-zone on Fedor Gordeev and shortly after, Evan Brand would staple a Storm forward to the boards in the Kingston zone.
Chromiak got his third goal since joining the team breaking the scoreless draw while on the powerplay at 10:20 with a wicked shot that beat a partially screened Bennett high. The play was all developed by a hustling Wisdom who got into the Storm zone retrieving a loose puck and fed it to Pinchuk in the corner.
After Pinchuk got the puck to the point for Brahaney to set-up, the captain passed off to an awaiting Chromiak and last summer’s import pick made no mistake taking a couple of strides before ripping it past the goalie. Brahaney now leads the Frontenacs in assists with 20.
“He looks unreal and you can tell he played pro, against men,” said Assistant Coach Luca Caputi of his newest player. “He helps everyone around him better and he’s got a great shot. The sky is the limit for him, Shane (Wright), and Wiz (Wisdom). They have some chemistry going, and we hope it grows even more special for us.”
“He’s got a great release. That was a goal-scorers goal, but I think everyone did their job tonight and that’s how it’s gotta be,” said Propp on NHL-eligible Chromiak.
Kingston continued to make it tough on Storm shooters getting good scoring chances and limited the visitors to 16 shots through two. Propp commented on his team’s maturing defence in front of him: “One word to sum it up was fantastic. Shots were down, anything they were getting was mostly outside, and any high traffic plays we either had sticks in front or strong box-outs.”
While the Frontenacs did an excellent job staying out of penalty trouble without a call against through almost 45 minutes of play, inevitably they were called at 4:38. The team did a great job killing it off playing tough defence, blocking shots, and closing lanes. The referee sent Kingston immediately back on the penalty-kill as Brahaney was sent-off on a questionable call two seconds after the King penalty had expired.
The Storm’s fifth-ranked powerplay broke through to tie the game 1-1 at 7:21 on a Gogolev shot that saw him tie Hamilton’s Arthur Kaliyev for the OHL scoring lead with his 31st. The goal was fitting for Guelph in that Hillis drew his team-leading 41st assist to sit fourth in the league.
Kingston’s young group of rookies continue to be a part of the team’s success and tonight it was rookie Maddox Callens scoring the game-winner at 13:39. The 2-1 goal is one Guelph’s Bennett may want back as Callens took a wrist shot from just inside the blueline that found it’s past him allowing Kingston to go up again by a goal. The shot may have dipped slightly as two Storm defencemen tried to block the shot. Callens’s third goal of the season was assisted by Dawson Baker, who also had a strong game playing heavy forecheck.
Kingston finished the scoring at 3-1 with under a minute remaining into an empty net when Wright scored his 20th. Pinchuk and Chromiak both drew assists for their second points in the game respectively.
After The Game:
Caputi was happy with the teams’ effort getting back on a winning track: “It’s about riding rhythm and trying to get in the playoff picture again where we’re fighting for that 8th spot, or maybe the 7th spot.” He does concede it’ll be a tough battle to pull off saying: “We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. We had a good weekend, something we can hang our hat on and now we have four days to prepare and get our minds focused and get ready for next Friday.”
He finished: “I thought we deserved to win and played pretty well. The team did an excellent job boxing out and mitigating chances and limiting, as best we can, star-guys like Gogolev and Hillis.”
Propp says accountability is going to come from everyone including the players themselves: “It has been a big thing that is preached from ownership down and I think just guys are maturing and knowing their roles and learning their way in the league and we are all buying in.”
- Chromiak – KGN
- Callens – KGN
- Propp – KGN
CHL Hardest Working Player (Voted by Fans):
- Francesco Arcuri
The rookie forward has had a great weekend scoring the game-winning shootout goal on Friday and being named the Hardest Worker by the fans.
“It feels good to be voted by your fans especially because we played good tonight so let’s keep it going!” the rookie forward said after the game.
Arcuri is fast making himself a fan-favourite on a team with many as he becomes more familiar with the OHL game. Though he played mostly on the wing, the 2019 2nd-round selection won five of the six face-offs he took tonight.
Kingston plays their next game on Friday, Jan 17 at 7 p.m. at home to the Hamilton Bulldogs.