For many young hockey players, the dream of making it to the National Hockey League (NHL) is a lifelong pursuit. From the time they lace up their skates for the first time, they dream of hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup and hearing their name announced at the NHL draft. However, the journey to the NHL is filled with hard work, dedication, and overcoming challenges. This is exactly the story of the Guelph Storm, a junior ice hockey team based in Guelph, Ontario. In just a few short seasons, the Guelph Storm has gone from being at the bottom of the standings to being one of the top teams in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and producing NHL-caliber players. This is the incredible turnaround of the Guelph Storm and how it has become a new place to talk about minor hockey in North America and around the world.
The Guelph Storm was founded in 1991 and has been a part of the OHL ever since. In its early years, the team struggled to find success on the ice, often finishing near the bottom of the league standings. However, in 2010, the Storm achieved their first major breakthrough when they won the OHL championship and advanced to the Memorial Cup, the annual championship of Canadian junior ice hockey. This success was short-lived, as the team returned to its losing ways in the following seasons.
But in the 2017-2018 season, everything changed for the Guelph Storm. Under the leadership of head coach and general manager George Burnett, the team began its incredible turnaround. The Storm finished the regular season with a record of 30 wins, 29 losses, and 5 overtime losses, earning them a playoff spot. In the playoffs, the Storm continued to defy expectations and went on to win the OHL championship for the second time in franchise history. This time, they would represent the OHL at the 2018 Memorial Cup held in Regina, Saskatchewan.
At the Memorial Cup, the Guelph Storm once again proved to be a force to be reckoned with. They breezed through the round-robin portion of the tournament and advanced to the championship game, where they faced the heavily favored Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In a thrilling overtime game, the Storm emerged victorious, defeating the Huskies 5-4 and capturing their first Memorial Cup title. This victory was not only a testament to the team’s resilience but also a testament to how far they had come in just one season.
So, what was the secret to the Guelph Storm’s incredible turnaround? One of the key factors was the team’s strong leadership. George Burnett, who was in his first season as head coach and general manager, brought a winning mentality to the team. He instilled a strong work ethic and a never-give-up attitude in his players, which was evident in their on-ice performance. Additionally, the team’s captain, Isaac Ratcliffe, provided strong leadership on and off the ice. Ratcliffe, who was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2017 NHL draft, led by example and was a role model for his teammates.
Another crucial factor was the team’s ability to develop young talent. The Guelph Storm has a reputation for developing players who go on to have successful careers in the NHL. In the 2017 NHL draft, three players from the Storm were drafted, including Isaac Ratcliffe in the second round. In the 2018 draft, three more players were selected from the team, including defenseman Ryan Merkley, who was chosen in the first round by the San Jose Sharks. This focus on developing young talent has been instrumental in the team’s success and has caught the attention of the entire hockey community.
The Guelph Storm’s incredible turnaround has not only brought success to the team but has also put the city of Guelph on the map in the hockey world. The team has gained a reputation for being a hard-working and determined group, and their success has inspired young hockey players to dream big and work hard to achieve their goals. The Storm has also become a new place to talk about minor hockey in North America and around the world, as they continue to produce top talent and make waves in the hockey community.
The Guelph Storm’s journey from the bottom of the standings to the top of the hockey world is a true underdog story. Through strong leadership, a focus on developing young talent, and a never-give-up attitude, the Storm has become one of the top junior hockey teams in North America. Their success has not only brought pride to the city of Guelph but has also given hope to young hockey players everywhere. As the team continues to grow and produce top talent, we can only imagine what the future holds for the Guelph Storm in the NHL.