After an impressive goal-scoring run during the Ontario Hockey League final, Guelph Storm forward Alexey Toropchenko kept up that form at the Memorial Cup Saturday.
The St. Louis Blues prospect completed a natural hat-trick in the first period in Halifax as the Storm picked up a 5-2 win over the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in each team’s opening game of the round-robin.
“It doesn’t matter who scores first, we just play hard,” Toropchenko said in a post-game media scrum. “Especially me. I’m just trying to my best in every shift.”
It was the Huskies who took an early lead on a Vincent Marleau goal before Torpochenko took things over, as he became the first player to score three goals in one period since Nathan MacKinnon did that for the Halifax Mooseheads in the second frame of a 7-4 round-robin win over the Portland Winterhawks at the 2013 tournament in Saskatoon.
Blueliner Sean Durzi had three assists for the Storm, as he helped to set up goals for teammates MacKenzie Entwistle and Nick Suzuki.
Anthony Popovich made 22 saves in the victory, with his best work coming in the second period when the Huskies had numerous chances to cut Guelph’s lead down to a single goal.
Jakub Lauko had a goal and an assist for Rouyn-Noranda, while Samuel Harvey made 24 stops.
The Storm will return to action tomorrow against the host Mooseheads, as each side looks to move to first place in the round-robin with a 2-0 mark.
Meanwhile, the Huskies return to action Monday against the Western Hockey League champion Prince Albert Raiders in a battle of 0-1 teams.
The Raiders will conclude their round-robin Tuesday against the Storm.