Despite a convincing 6-2 victory against Ottawa on Friday, Erie Otters Head Coach Kris Knoblauch acknowledged that the real tests for his team would come in the following days.
On Saturday, the Otters failed.
Fueled by a three-goal first period, the Guelph Storm rolled to a 8-0 victory in front of 4, 013 at Erie Insurance Arena. In the process, Erie dropped to 8-18-2-3 on the season and 1-6 in games following a win.
The inconsistent ways plagued former coach Robbie Ftorek this season, and appear to be riding shotgun with Knoblauch, who is 1-3 since taking over on Nov. 29.
Despite the lopsided loss, Erie still has a chance to salvage the weekend with a win on Sunday, when it travels to Brampton to take on the Battalion for a 2 p.m. start at the Powerade Centre. It will be Erie’s last trip to Brampton, as the Battalion will move to North Bay, Ont., for the start of the 2013-14 season.
As for Saturday, the Storm, winners of three straight wasted little time figuring out goaltender Devin Williams, making a rare home start in relief of Oscar Dansk.
Zack Mitchell’s short-handed goal 2 minutes, 36 seconds in began a goal parade that involved Brock McGinn’s eighth of the season and Ryan Horvat’s fifth. As the dust settled on the lopsided period, Guelph outshot Erie 15-6 and controlled the game in every facet.
Things didn’t get much better for the Otters in the second period, which will go down as one of the most bizarre in the Otters’ history.
After Robby Fabbri made it 5-0 with a goal at the 8:54 mark, McGinn tallied his second of the evening, and, well, that’s when things got weird.
The Otters’ organization was holding its 5th Annual Teddy Bear Toss night, where fans are supposed to throw a stuffed animal onto the ice surface after Erie’s first goal. Apparently, the fans couldn’t wait any longer and began to throw their bears onto the ice, causing a lengthy delay.
After the bears were eventually cleared, Matt Finn beat Williams to make it 6-0 and put the finishing touches on another period in which they outplayed and outworked the Otters.
To throw a little more salt on the Otters’ wound, Mitchell and Justin Auger scored a pair of goals 48 seconds into the third period to make it 8-0, which is, mercifully, how the game would end.
Garret Sparks earned the shutout between the pipes for the Storm, stopping all 23 shots he faced. Williams, on the other, didn’t have much help in front of him, but still managed to stop 35 of the 43 pucks shot in his direction.
The Storm got at least one point from 10 different skaters. Auger paved the way with his five points (1 goal, 4 assists), while Richard collected four assists by the end of the night.