Reduced to a spoiler for their final seven games of the Ontario Hockey League season, the Kingston Frontenacs had a good start in that role on Friday night in Guelph.
The Frontenacs, eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday, led 2-0 just 10 minutes into the game before a timely timeout by Guelph coach Scott Walker fired up his club.
The Storm promptly came on to essentially win the hockey game in the second half of the first period with four straight goals against shaky Kingston starter Jacob Riley.
Guelph would go on to post a 6-3 win before 2,451 fans at the Sleeman Centre.
The victory was an important one for for Guelph, keeping the Storm in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Wilton’s Darcy Greenaway scored twice for Kingston to reach the 25-goal mark in his rookie season. Ryan Kujawinski picked up his 15th.
Coach Todd Gill wasn’t real happy, though.
“Totally mind-boggling how we can come out and dominate the first 10 minutes and then turn around and play our worst 10 minutes,” Gill said.
“There were some mistakes made and a couple of goals (against) I didn’t like. That is why I pulled (Riley).”
Gill said it wasn’t just the goaltending. Players were giving up the puck too often in the Kingston end.
“They only have to look at (Guelph) to see how to do the right thing. (The Guelph defence) would flick it out of their end if there was any trouble. Can’t score if the puck is not in your end,” Gill said.
“We’ve got some guys who are giving 100% and others who are just going through the motions. It is very frustrating to watch.”
The Storm led 4-2 after the first and 5-3 going into the third.
After a wild six-goal first period, the teams settled down in the middle frame. Igor Bobkov came on in relief for Riley, who was unable to protect a 2-0 lead, allowing four goals in an eight-minute stretch.
The Storm made it five straight goals scored with a power-play marker by Andrey Pedan. The defencemen sent a shot through traffic that Bobkov couldn’t track.
The first period turned out to be a tale of two distinctly different 10-minute halves.
Coach Walker used his only timeout at the 9:45 mark of the first, after the Frontenacs had jumped in front 2-0 on goals by Kujawinski and Greenaway.
A minute after the timeout Zack Mitchell scored for Guelph and the rest of the period belonged to the Storm.
Goaltender Garret Sparks made a good save on Trevor Morbeck in alone and the Storm took off after that.
Riley made an overzealous play that led to the 2-2 goal by Hunter Garlent. The Storm forward was in on a partial break but Warren Steele and Alex Gudbranson both closed the gap on Garlent, who was falling to the ice. With the puck coming loose, Riley tried to poke it with stick. In doing that he was out of position and Garlent, flat on the ice, flicked the puck over Riley into the net.
Guelph quickly followed with two more goals by Scott Kosmachuk on a screen shot and Mitchell picking up his second on a deflection.
Kujawinski opened the scoring with his 15th of the season. Fourteen of those have come in his 24 games for Kingston. Billy Jenkins’ shot was kicked out by a right pad from Sparks. Kujawinski was going hard to the net and beat defenceman Pedan to put the loose puck behind Sparks.
Ryan Kujawinski’s 15 points in February has earned the Kingston rookie the Kal Tire OHL rookie of the month honours. Kujawinski scored nine times in 12 games. He had four multi-point games, including a four-point outing against Guelph. All the previous other monthly rookie awards have gone to Western Conference players. Kitchener’s Radek Faksa has won twice. The other winners have been Erie’s Connor Brown and Owen Sound’s Artur Gavrus. … Both the Storm and Frontenacs have had more wins as the visitor than on home ice. The Storm have won 15 times on the road. Kingston has won 11 times away from the K-Rock Centre. … Jack Nevins (shoulder) and healthy scratches Petr Beranek and Andrew Tessier were out of Kingston’s lineup. …The Frontenacs make their only trip of the season to Owen Sound to play the Attack on Saturday night (7:30, Cogeco Ch. 13, 88.7 FM). It’s Kingston’s final road game of the season.