Changed fortunes

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:42 AM ET

On one side of the Guelph Sports and Entertainment Centre, the London Knights were in a hurry to get out of their dressing room after celebrating yet another victory.

On the other, the Storm were in a hurry to get out of theirs for another reason. Coach and general manager Dave Barr was peeling the paint off the wall with a tongue-lashing of epic proportions.

Barr was tearing a strip off his club for the way the team played. The tirade was audible through three doors and lasted a good 10 minutes.

The Knights are going to break many OHL and Canadian Hockey League records on their way to first place in the OHL. Yesterday's win was their 10th in succession.

The Storm are fighting for their playoff lives. Yesterday's loss was their sixth in a row.

The Knights' Adam Dennis and Daniel Girardi could only be thinking, "There but for the grace of God go I."

The Storm's Ryan Pottruff, Rick Steadman and Ryan MacDonald were probably thinking the same thing. Only they probably were not as thankful.

Yesterday marked the first time the teams have met since they made a pair of trades which saw those players change places.

The players who changed sides were all saying the right things yesterday but it was obvious who the happy group was.

"It was more fun than anything coming back. It was different coming off the bus in the visitors' end. But once the game started, it was just another game," said Dennis, who led the Storm to the Memorial Cup tournament last year. He came to the Knights in a deadline trade.

Girardi felt the fluttering as well. "The first shift was nerve-racking," he said. "It was good to get the first one under the belt."

The guy who should feel more emotional about his move was Steadman. He played three years for the Knights and did whatever was asked of him. He's also the nephew of Knights owners Dale and Mark Hunter.

"It's weird playing against them, that's for sure," said Steadman.

"They came out hard and played a good game, and we just didn't come out with the effort needed to win. They are a very strong team."

It has to be difficult for Steadman to say "them" and "they" when he's talking about the Knights.

But "it's just hockey. It's a business like anything else," he explained. "The guys here, they're great. . . . I'm fitting in well and I'm liking it a lot."

Back to Dennis. One of the reasons the Storm is struggling is goaltending. When Guelph traded Dennis to London for MacDonald and draft choices, the club believed he would be good enough to get the team into the playoffs.

The Storm know that Dennis is the type of goaltender who can win games for you, no matter what.

But Guelph was in a situation where it thought it could make the playoffs in a rebuilding year and still pick up some draft picks if Dennis was traded.

Since MacDonald came to Guelph, he has won once in eight games and has a goals-against average of nearly 3.5.

There's always the million-dollar question when it comes to goaltenders on dominating teams. Is it the team that makes the goaltender look good or can a goaltender win games on his own?

Yesterday MacDonald gave up two horrible goals and Dennis faced 25 shots. The Knights were up 3-1 in the second period when they had to play two men short for more than a minute. Dennis made three great saves. Instead of 3-2 with another penalty to kill, it was game over.

A good team can make a goaltender look good but a good goaltender is always good, no matter where he plays.

A point yesterday that was beyond debate.


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