Storm's Kerby Rychel looks to make his mark

Storm forward Kerby Rychel expects to produce at the Memorial Cup in London after leading the OHL...

Storm forward Kerby Rychel expects to produce at the Memorial Cup in London after leading the OHL in playoff scoring this season. (JEFFREY OUGLER/QMI Agency/Files)

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:06 PM ET

LONDON, ONT. - This Memorial Cup will be Kerby Rychel’s big-tournament mulligan.

The Guelph Storm’s OHL final hero was held scoreless in seven games for Canada at the world junior tournament in Malmo, Sweden this year.

He bounced back to lead the league playoffs in points. He expects to produce here in London, starting with his team’s tilt with the Edmonton Oil Kings Saturday afternoon.

“I’m real confident in my ability,” the 19-year-old Columbus first rounder said. “The world juniors was tough but I don’t really count it as a disappointment. I wasn’t put in a position to succeed, you can say.

“I think I’m going to have a good tournament. I’m not worried about that.”

Rychel knows, given the historic London-Windsor rivalry, the symbolism of an ex-Spitfires captain hoisting the Cup on Budweiser Gardens ice next Sunday. The Knights out-bid the Spits, who were weighed down by illegal recruiting sanctions, for the right to hold this event.

As a result, Rychel was traded at mid-season from his hometown Spits by his GM dad Warren in a blockbuster deal with the Storm.

“It’s something I definitely thought about,” Rychel said. “I played a lot of games in here. Sometimes the fans say stuff but I don’t think they’re going to boo me or anything. We beat them this year, which was a good feeling. Hopefully, we can beat them again and raise the Cup in London.

“That would be something special I would never forget.”

Rychel attended games during the 2005 Cup in London. He watched his dad’s team win back-to-back Cups in 2009 and ’10, with morning skates five years ago in Rimouski.

“Kind of driving on the bus to the rink here brought back memories of when I would go with my dad (in Rimouski) five years ago,” he said. “It’s cool and surreal to have my chance to finally play.”

He sees parallels with his current Guelph team and the Windsor clubs he grew up around.

“Those teams were really tight-knit and we have that here,” he said. “The Windsor teams had all-stars — Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, Cam Fowler. I don’t think we have that guy. We just have a lot of good players.”

Rychel plays with two of them — NHL first-round draft prospect Robby Fabbri, the OHL playoff MVP, and overager Zack Mitchell.

They have been on a line since his arrival in Guelph.

“There were signs of good things at the start,” he said, “and hopefully, we keep going on all cylinders.”

Twitter.com/RyanatLFPress


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