By DAVE BORODY
SAGINAW, Michigan – Goalie J.P. Anderson recorded a shutout Thursday night the old-fashioned way.
He earned it.
Anderson turned aside all 42 shots he faced, including a whopping 26 in the first period in leading the Sting to a tidy 3-0 victory over the Saginaw Spirit in front of 2,359 fans at the Dow Event Centre.
The shutout was the first of the season for Anderson, who was easily the game’s first star.
“He was outstanding,” said Sting head coach, Jacques Beaulieu, when asked about his overage netminder.
“He kept us in the game, especially in the first period. That’s what good goalies do and that’s what J.P. has been doing all season for us. He saves the day.”
The win was Sarnia’s fifth in a row, their longest winning streak of the season. They moved six games over the .500 mark for the first time this season at 17-11-0-2 in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Sting also improved their road record to 11-4-0-1. The 11 road wins is second only to London, who have 13 away from home.
Sarnia opened the scoring just over three minutes into period one when Davis Brown came from behind the net to snap a quick shot past goalie Jake Paterson. It was Brown’s first career OHL goal.
But after that it was all Spirit as they outshot Sarnia 26-8, but could not get the puck past Anderson. The Sting back stopper made several outstanding saves, including a number from point blank range.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve faced that many shots in the first period,” admitted Anderson. “Usually you don’t see that many shots so early in the game. But we settled down after that and played our game. We did what we had to do.”
As for his first shutout of the season, Anderson said, “It’s more important to get our fifth win in a row. That’s the main thing. We are all buying into the program and doing the right things to win games.”
Sarnia received their first power play chance early in period two and it took only 15 seconds for Alex Galchenyuk to score his 21st goal of the season. Galchenyuk snapped a shot over the shoulder of Paterson from a sharp angle.
The Sting captain now has scored in five consecutive games.
The Sting had two more golden opportunities in the second frame, but Paterson stopped both Charlie Sarault and Nikolay Goldobin on breakaways.
It remained a two-goal game until the final minute of the game when Alex Basso scored into an open net with 24.2 seconds left. Galchenyuk and Sarault garnered assists.
Beaulieu likes the way his team has played over the past five games.
“I like the way the kids are competing. We are executing and they are listening. All the little things we work on in practice carries over into the games. We are using the motto of taking it one period at a time and not trying to get ahead of ourselves.”
For Brown, one of 11 rookies on the roster, he was happy to finally get his first OHL goal.
“It felt really good. It was nice to get the monkey off my back. Alex Carnevale and me were behind the net. Their defence coughed up the puck. I came around in front and saw an opening on the glove side and put it in.”
Brown is just nicely getting back in the lineup after missing a number of games with a concussion.
“It was pretty tough watching as I wanted to be on the ice helping my team-mates. It’s nice to get back in the lineup and be on a winning streak.”
“I love the kid,” said Beaulieu, when asked about Brown. “He went through some injury problems, but I love his character and he shoots the puck like a pro. He plays like Reid Boucher. He’s going to put a lot of pucks in the net in this league before his career is over.”
Sarnia was again brilliant on the penalty-kill turning back all seven Saginaw power plays. Sarnia finished one-for-five.
The Sting had 28 shots at Paterson in the Saginaw goal.
The Sting will begin a six-game home stand, their longest of the season, Friday night when they host the Windsor Spitfires Friday night. Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Sarnia will also be home Sunday afternoon to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds beginning at 2:05 p.m.
Sunday’s game will mark the 15th annual Teddy Bear Toss Game. Fans are asked to bring a stuffed animal to the game where they can toss it onto the ice when the Sting scores their first goal.
All the bears collected will be donated to various charities in the community. Over the 14 years, over 39,000 stuffed animals have been collected.
This year’s event will also feature draws for prizes.
Tickets for all Sting home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at www.Sarniasting.com
- Anderson was first star with Connor Murphy of the Sting second star and Brown third star. Murphy again logged a ton of ice time on the Sting blue line. Galchenyuk, Sarault and Basso all had two-point nights.
- The Sting was missing three players against Saginaw. They included Justice Dundas (shoulder), Nick Latta (knee) and David Nemecek (numbers). Latta took a shot off the knee against Oshawa last Sunday.
- Latta will compete for Germany at the world junior hockey championships later this month in Russia.
- Sarnia is 3-0 against the Spirit this year with three more games left between the two clubs.