GUELPH -- The Brick House finally has a scratch.
Michael Houser started his OHL career on a roll with five straight wins.
In his sixth yesterday, he played Guelph's Matt Hoyle to a standstill through regulation, overtime and eight shootout rounds.
But in the ninth, Guelph defenceman Adam Comrie discovered a slight crack and sent a rocket slapper past the sensational London rookie goalie to hand him his first defeat in the Knights' 4-3 shootout loss before 3,773 at the Sleeman Centre.
The Storm won the low-scoring shootout portion 2-1. Houser's aura of invincibility is over.
"I noticed he (Houser) was putting his leg (on his glove-hand side) down and thought I could get the puck over," said the 19-year-old Comrie, the former Saginaw blue-liner whose Game 4 loss to London in last spring's second round ended his Spirit-ed tenure. "Goalies aren't usually expecting a slap shot so I tried to use that to my advantage."
It took a marathon breakaway contest to bring down Houser.
He had seen the game-ending format in the United States Hockey League last year with Des Moines, but had never taken part.
Houser faced just 18 shots in 65 minutes, then turned aside seven of nine Storm skaters in the shootout.
"I felt like I let the team down (after allowing three goals in the first two periods)," the 17-year-old from Wexford, Penn., said. "In the shootout, you try not to anticipate anything and wait. We work on it in practice."
Guelph's little-used Connor Tresham -- a hunch by Storm coach Jason Brooks -- beat Houser in the third round, but London's Jared Knight extended it with a nifty backhander to set the stage for Comrie's heroics.
"It's a toss-up in the shootout," Brooks said. "You look over at the other bench and they're throwing out Nazem Kadri, Phil McRae, Phil Varone and you wonder who else they have over there. But Matt (Hoyle) did a great job at keeping them out."
It was the Knights' first shootout of the season. They have the talent for the contest but ended up one for nine.
"Normally, we're good at it in practice," London captain Justin Taylor said. "Definitely, we wanted to win it for Houser. He got us the first point (in regulation) and it was up to us to get that second one and we couldn't do it for him. But you never complain about a point on the road. He's (Houser) had a good run. He's still one of the only goalies in the league who's undefeated in regulation."
Houser feels plenty comfy in his pads now. He knows his role behind horse Michael Hutchinson and is trying to make the most of his playing opportunities.
"I do feel a lot more comfortable as we're going along," he said. "It's been a good start. This was tough, but all you can do is work hard to try to win your next one."
The Knights need some shootout work. The special teams have gone to pot. London ended up 0-for-5 -- including a couple of five-on-three chances -- against the OHL's worst penalty killers..
The Knights also surrendered two power-play goals on three Guelph opportunities despite Zac Rinaldo's spirited shot-blocking and fine play while short.
The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick wants to play his way onto the Canadian world junior team. He should sent a tape of his Guelph effort to Hockey Canada's office in Calgary as proof.
There were some bright signs. Rookie Michael MacDonald scored in his third straight games.
But they couldn't find a way to foil Hoyle and a banged-up Storm crew.
Storm 4, Knights 3 Guelph wins shootout 2-1
Guelph goals: Adam Comrie, Matt Kennedy, Taylor Beck
London goals: Michael MacDonald, Phil McRae, Nazem Kadri
Next: The Knights face the surging Owen Sound Attack Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the John Labatt Centre.---