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December 5, 2012 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Guelph Storm News Release

The Canadian Hockey League announced that 11 current CHL players have been named to the Preliminary Roster for the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team which was released by USA Hockey this week.

The Guelph Storm's Garret Sparks, along with 2 other goalies (one of those also from the CHL) have been added to the list. A total of 27 players will attend training camp Dec. 16-18 at the New York Rangers' Madison Square Garden Training Center in Tarrytown, N.Y. An additional camp will follow in Helsinki, Finland, with the final 23-man roster announcement scheduled for Dec. 23.

The 2013 U.S. National Junior Team will compete at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship Dec. 26, 2012-Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.

Storm assistant captain is central figure in Storm 'surge"

By Rich Davidson, a freelance hockey writer covering the Guelph Storm this season. Follow Rich's work at www.rdsportswriter.com

Just weeks away from the holiday season, Ryan Horvat has already received his Christmas gift: line chemistry.

Playing in his second full season with the Storm, the energetic forward has been paired on the third line with towering right winger Justin Auger and rookie playmaking center Robby Fabbri.

So far, the trio's style of play has been a recipe for success.

"I think our line has been good, and I really enjoy playing with those guys," Horvat says in regards to his time spent on the third line this season. "Our whole team has been solid this year. We had a good start and then ran into some injury trouble, but now we're starting to get some bodies back and we're starting to get back on track."

Despite experiencing some ups and downs this season, Horvat has begun to hit his stride. And it couldn't come at a better time, either, as the Simcoe, Ontario native hopes to garner the attention of both NHL scouts and teams overseas and extend his hockey playing career.

But if Ryan Horvat ever has to say goodbye to hockey at some point, he'll always have something to fall back on - joining the "family business".

"This year, I'm taking Criminal Justice at the University of Guelph," Horvat says. "My dad is a police officer, and I've always thought that it would be a great career if hockey wasn't an option for me anymore. I think ultimately I would like to be a part of a task-force response team."

Whatever Horvat decides to do with the rest of his life, the game of hockey will always be his first love.

"My first memories of playing hockey are getting up at 5:00am so that I could get half dressed and be at the rink for the 6:00am skate. My dad would always take me for breakfast after practice before dropping me off at school."

"The early practices were tougher on us then on Ryan," Val Horvat says. "For him, all it took to get up in the morning was a little nudge. He'd jump out of bed with a smile on his face and collect all his gear, still half asleep."

"The games at that early age were the most fun, watching them chase the puck all over the ice."

"My parents would come to every game and cheer me on," Horvat says. "They always supported me made sure I had new equipment if I needed it."

"Talking my dad into buying me the newest stick was tough... but I could usually convince him."

During those years, Horvat would spend time playing single-A hockey in his hometown of Simcoe before moving on to play triple-A hockey in Brantford, Ontario. It was during Horvat's journey through minor hockey that he met coach Dave Smith.

"Dave was a big difference maker in my hockey career," Horvat says. "He was the toughest coach I had growing up and he always pushed me to get better. He knew how to get the most out of me and made sure that I could reach my full potential."

"He had a huge influence on Ryan," Val Horvat says about coach Smith. "Dave coached Ryan in Novice and they won the Niagara District league championship together. Dave game Ryan the nickname 'bulldog', because he would run over people and never backed down."

"According to Dave, Ryan was a little terrier and only knew one direction: straight ahead."

It's that Terrier-like determination that helped Horvat make it to the OHL.

"It was never a given that I would make the OHL but I worked very hard to get here and it paid off."

Outside of the rink, Horvat works with kids and has been making a difference as a camp counselor and coordinator in Norfolk County over the past two years.

"As a comp counselor working for Norfolk County, there are many kids who looked at Ryan as a great role model," Val says. "After the summer, he received thank-you cards from all of his groups thanking him for a great camp and for his positive impact on their summers."

Whether he's scoring goals, helping kids, or busting bad-guys, Ryan Horvat is an asset to the hockey world and to his community and has a strong message to share with young hockey players.

"The lessons I have learned are that hard work and perseverance pay off. Even if it seems like nothing is going your way, things will start to get better."

"You can always be better and work harder."

Storm Stories is a Guelph Storm original weekly feature for the 2012-13 season spotlighting current Storm Players and giving readers a behind-the-scenes look at the player's lives on and off the ice.

Rich Davidson is a freelance hockey writer covering the Guelph Storm this season. Follow Rich's work at:


From The Stands

By Paul Osborne, Guelph Tribune

The Guelph Storm is second in the Ontario Hockey League in goals scored this season with 115 so I suppose its not surprising to see that the home side has the highest scoring defensive corps in the league. Andrey Pedan leads the way with nine goals and thirteen assists; sophomore Zac Leslie (pictured) has racked up five goals and twenty points with Matt Finn adding eight goals and ten assists despite missing six games with mononucleosis. Add in Brock Beukeboom's twelve and you have 72 points from your top four defencemen. No team is even close to that type of production from the back-end.

"We want to be an offensive team," says coach Scott Walker, "that is what keeps the players interested. But they have to play defence first and then if they get the chance to go to the net, they can."

Only Ryan O'Connor of Barrie with ten goals has more than Pedan, who has a legitimate shot at a 20-goal season if he maintains his current pace. While Finn, a second round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was expected to contribute offensively, Leslie's massive step forward has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the first half for the Storm. He looks dangerous every time he has the puck and moves it efficiently during the powerplay.

The key is knowing when to head up ice as a defenceman. When is it best to make the quick first pass to the forward or jump into the rush giving your club an odd-man advantage?

"You have to pick your spots," said Leslie. "You can't go on every shift or you'll burn out. It may happen three times a game or never in a game. You just need to look for the opportunity when it is there."

"(Leslie) is way ahead of where he was last year" said Walker. "No disrespect to Finn or Pedan because they are really good players, but you could say that consistently (Zac) has been on our best and I think he still has a lot more to grow muscular wise. He is quick and can get back too. He sort of jumps in front of people, beating them to the puck."

Guelph's 3-2 win over Brampton was a very good sign in that they played them tough defensively allowing just 19 shots all game. Now the Battalion will never be confused as an offensive juggernaut but the Storm was able to match their defensive tenacity while still breaking down their defensive trap.

The Storm's big issue is cutting down their goals against and maybe that will mean that their defencemen will eventually have to be reigned in a little bit, but Walker feels that experience will help take care of that.

It is doubtful that either Pedan, Finn or Leslie will have the dominant seasons that defencemen Kevin Mitchell (78 and 77pts), Kevin Dallman (86 and 77 pts) or Drew Doughty's 74 points in 2006-2007, but as a unit they might be the most offensively minded group in team history. Time will tell whether that leads to playoff success down the road.

From the Land of Oz....The top selling jersey's in the team's store these days are those of Brock McGinn and Tyler Bertuzzi with Matt Finn gaining momentum. The top selling pucks in souvenir land are those of the Sarnia Sting, Kitchener Rangers, Calgary Hitmen, Halifax Mooseheads and the Rimouski Oceanic because of their ties with Sidney Crosby...Rookie Robby Fabbri is ahead of the pace set by both Jason Dickinson and Hunter Garlent when they were 16-year-old freshmen last season. Fabbri has 6 goals and 18 points in his first 28 games. Last year at this time Dickinson had just one goal and six assists while Garlent had 6 goals and 9 assists...The Storm had hope to end the London Knights 12-game winning streak on Saturday but came out on the short end of a 3-1 score with the third goal scored into an empty net.

On Friday December 7th, Brent Johnson will sponsor the annual Teddy Bear Toss at the Sleeman Centre when your hometown Storm take on the Owen Sound Attack! The puck drops at 7:30pm

Over the years, this initiative has helped deliver over 20,000 new and gently used Teddy's to many wonderful children throughout Guelph. When the Storm score their first goal against the Attack, please help celebrate and toss your Teddy's on the ice! They will be collected and distributed through some great local charities to some great kids!

For more information, please contact community@guelphstorm.com

Storm Forecast

The Guelph Storm play three games this week, starting with their first game against the Rangers. Tuesday December 4 the puck drops at 7:00pm at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium. Friday night the Storm play host to the Owen Sound Attack at the Sleeman Centre. Game time is 7:30pm. Saturday December 8, the Storm travel to Erie to face the Otters at the Erie Insurance Arena with a start time of 7:00pm.

Tickets are still available for the home game on Friday night and can be purchased by visiting or calling the Guelph Storm Box Office at 519-837-9690. New this year, Ticketmaster is waving all online fees. You can purchase your tickets in the convenience of your own home without paying service chargers.You'll pay the same low price in advance as you would waiting in line at the box office, plus with our new interactive seat map you can select your actual seat location. Click here to buy now!

Tickets for the dinner are $25 a person. For more information and too book your spot, please contact Molly Cressman at community@guelphstorm.com.

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Ontario Hockey League Stories from December 5, 2012

The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.