Lights, camera, action: Storm ready for bigger...
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May 11, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Lights, camera, action: Storm ready for bigger stage

Guelph Mercury

GUELPH — Guelph Storm coach Scott Walker never knew he had so many friends.

An Ontario Hockey League championship and berth in the Memorial Cup tends to bring them out of the woodwork.

"You suddenly have a lot more friends," the Storm coach said Sunday, still basking in the glow of Friday night's OHL championship victory at the Sleeman Centre. "Everyone tells you, 'You're the best!'"

The Storm had Saturday off before holding a team meeting on Sunday to lay out plans for the coming week.

"Our meeting (Sunday) was basically about getting prepared for things to get busy and knowing that we're going to have to adjust," Walker said. "We're going to try to keep things as normal as possible."

They will practise in Guelph at the usual time Monday and Tuesday then hold a late-morning practice on Wednesday before heading to London to settle into their hotel.

They will practise at Budweiser Gardens Thursday and Friday, then open their Memorial Cup round-robin schedule with a game Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. against the Western Hockey League champion.

They play the Quebec champions Monday night and the London Knights on Wednesday night.

"We told them we're going to enjoy it and there's going to be a lot of different things going on," the coach said, "but most importantly you have to take care of your family, yourselves and your teammates.

"The game doesn't change. Yes, there's a lot more cameras and media and things like that, but we have to learn to be adjustable. "

Walker said having it in London is an advantage because the players won't feel so isolated. They will still see family and friends occasionally and still be able to use cellphones to stay in touch with everyone.

"If it was far away out west or in Quebec it would be different. Far enough away, but close enough to eat what food we're used to and get the odd family visit in."

Only two Storm players — Nick Ebert and Kerby Rychel — have played in a Memorial Cup, and coach Bill Stewart coached in one.

But Walker and assistant Todd Harvey have plenty of experience playing and coaching in big tournaments like the world juniors and under-18s.

"Bill's been there before and me and Harv have been to a lot of tournaments where the situation is similar.

"Every team has the exact same. There's not one team there saying 'this is normal,' because it's abnormal for most," he said.

Bottom line is, Walker said, none of that matters once the puck drops. It's up to the coaches to have them prepared for that moment.

"It's going to be an exciting time and we're going to have some fun. They're still young men, but ultimately we're not with them 24 hours a day.

"Ultimately, these are learning experiences for these guys. They have to learn to manage themselves a bit."

The tournament opens Friday night with the London Knights playing the representative from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

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