Rychel's late-game heroics send Guelph to the Memorial Cup
A day ago, there was one. But after a stunning comeback in the final minutes of Game 5 in the OHL Championship series last night, there are now two Blue Jackets prospects headed to the MasterCard Memorial Cup in London, Ontario.
The Guelph Storm, a team on the rise that loaded up at the trade deadline by acquiring Jackets prospect Kerby Rychel (No. 19 overall, 2013) in a multi-player blockbuster deal, were considered the favorites to come out of the OHL, but it wasn’t easy by any means. The North Bay Battalion, the underdog in the OHL Final, entered Game 5 trailing 3-1 in the series but looked to be in good shape after carrying a lead into the final minutes of regulation.
Just when Game 6 seemed inevitable, everything fell apart for North Bay and everything seemingly went right for Guelph.
The Sleeman Centre in Guelph had been rocking all night long, and the sold-out crowd of over 5,000 willed the Storm to an equalizer with under five minutes to play - and it was Rychel, their go-to guy in the playoffs - getting the job done.
His tying goal sent the building into a frenzy, giving the Storm new life and a belief that they could close the deal, and what happened next was nothing short of a storybook ending.
Rychel did it again, firing home the game-winning goal with 26.3 seconds to go and sending the Storm to the Memorial Cup and clinching the franchise’s first OHL title in 10 years.
"A couple of lucky goals and the rest is history. We found a way to win and it's sick," Rychel told the Guelph Mercury after the game. “They had us on the ropes there, but good teams find a way to win and we did that.”
Rychel and the Storm join Josh Anderson and the host London Knights at next week’s Memorial Cup, which officially gets underway on May 16 at the Budweiser Gardens in London.
There remains a possibility that yet another Blue Jackets prospect could join the four-team tournament, as well; the Portland Winterhawks dropped Game 5 of the WHL Final on Friday night, and will need to win on the road in Game 6 on Sunday if they’re to force a decisive seventh game.
photo credits: Guelph Storm, Terry Wilson (OHL Images)