It was understandable and permissible for a 19-year-old star who came to the Guelph Storm to win the Memorial Cup, the same way the Windsor Spitfires teams his father built did in 2009 and '10. At game's end, Rychel and linemate Robby Fabbri remained on the Storm bench, heads down, inconsolable. Finally, teammate Scott Kosmachuk came over with a few encouraging words to get the two to join the handshake line, lest anyone form the mistaken impression they were showing up Edmonton.
"It's the last game of my junior career and I kind of don't want it to end," the Columbus Blue Jackets pick said. "It's tough. I'm just trying to stay in the moment.
"Give credit to Edmonton," Rychel added. "They played great defence. A lot of guys say that but at the end of the night it's on us. We didn't win. They're the champs."
The Storm players who eventually filtered out to explain something they weren't ready to analyze to death had all changed into athletic apparel. It's not unheard of for a player on the runner-up to keep his stuff on.
Storm GM Mike Kelly's December blockbuster trade with Windsor GM Warren Rychel for the younger Rychel and defenceman Nick Ebert galvanized Guelph, cemented the Storm as a contender. What gets lost in those blockbuster trades, though, is that the big piece — Kerby Rychel — was a GM's kid who was sensitive to the fact Guelph mortgaged some of its future — eight OHL priority selection picks at minimum — in a bid for a long-sought Memorial Cup. And then it didn't come to fruition.
Still, Rychel got an OHL championship, and a sense of group chemistry that will be tough to replicate in the pros.
"We were like brothers, everyone I played with Windsor and even Mississauga (as a rookie in 2010-11)," Rychel said. "It's real tough when it's over. Playing in your hometown is obviously special, but I won a championship here. All four years, I'll never forget for the rest of my life."
Rychel had a case for OHL playoff MVP after scoring the tying and winning third-period goals in the clinching Game 5 win against North Bay on May 9. He had two assists for the Storm on Sunday. He did everything a team would ask from its big deadline add.
"Kerby coming in from Windsor just helped our team so much throughout the year," Storm forward Brock McGinn said. "Throughout the playoffs he was that one player who always found the net. It's tough for this to be his last game."
Rychel, of course, was an impressionable adolescent watching those Spitfires super-teams from 2008 through '10. Windsor couldn't recapture that and lost out on this year's host team berth to London. There was still a chance for two Spitfires to get a Memorial Cup ring in Guelph. Instead, it's all about finding solace.
"We were an exciting team all year, scored a lot of goals," Rychel said. "I'm sure we were exciting for the fans in Guelph. It was a fast, skilled team."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.
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- Guelph Storm
- Kerby Rychel
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