BY DAVE BORODY
BARRIE – The Sarnia Sting’s magic on the road this season fell a little short Thursday night.
The Sting dropped a 5-3 decision to the powerful Barrie Colts in front of 3,405 fans at the Barrie Molson Centre.
The loss was only the second in 10 games away from home this season in the Ontario Hockey League. Sarnia also had their modest four game winning streak snapped.
The Sting never led in the game trailing 2-0 after one period and 3-2 after the second. Sarnia did tie the game early in the third period before Barrie scored the winning goal with just over five minutes remaining in regulation time.
“I thought we played a pretty good hockey game,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “The kids battled back a couple of times after getting down. They (Barrie) are a good hockey team.”
Barrie came into the game ranked seventh in the Canadian Hockey League and also improved their home record to one of the best in the league at 9-1-0-1.
A turnover in the Sarnia zone resulted in the winning goal.
“We made a mistake near the end of the game,” said Beaulieu. “Their guy tapped the puck out of the air. It’s unfortunate, but it is what it is. We have to move on.”
Beaulieu added, “The first period was a feeling out process by both clubs with not a lot of shots. We got better as the game went on. But you can’t turn the puck over against a team like Barrie like we did tonight.”
Barrie jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead as Ryan O’Connor scored a power play goal at 9:41 while Andreas Athanasiou drilled home a slapshot at 10:07.
The Sting could muster just four shots on goal.
But it was a different story in period two as Sarnia peppered Colts goalie Alex Fotinos with 18 shots and scored a pair of goals.
Connor Murphy scored Sarnia’s first goal at 6:44 on the power play drilling home a low slapshot from the point. It was his third of the year.
Reid Boucher tied the game at 17:20 when Reid Boucher notched his 11th of the year. Boucher took a pass from Murphy and snapped a wrist shot into the top corner on the glove side.
But a minute later Barrie regained the lead. Athanasiou appeared to trip a Sting defenceman behind the net. He took the puck came in front of sent a low shot past Sting goalie J.P. Anderson.
The Sting tied the game four minutes into period three when Boucher notched his second of the game and 12th of the year. Boucher took a saucer pass from Charlie Sarault on a two-on-one break and he ripped home a one-timer.
But at the 14:43 mark, Anthony Camara of the Colts knocked down a cross-ice pass in the Sting zone and made no mistake snapping a quick shot past Anderson.
Sarnia did have a couple of chances in the final minute before Barrie iced the game with 17 seconds remaining on an open net goal by Brendan Bell.
Murphy had a goal and an assist and was easily the best player on the ice for either side.
“It’s frustrating to lose because it came down to special teams and they capitalized on their chances,” said Murphy, “We took a couple of costly penalties. We didn’t stick to the simple game we’ve playing on the road lately. I think our mistakes gave the hometown crowd some momentum for the Colts.”
He added, “This is a big road trip for us. We have to take the good things we did out of this game, stay positive and have a good game in Sudbury.”
It was announced Thursday afternoon that Sting rookie forward Brett Hargrave was one of 21 OHL'ers named to the Ontario Under-17 team that will compete in the World Hockey Challenge, Dec. 29th to Jan. 4 in Victoria Ville and Drummond Ville, Quebec.
Hargrove was the 12th over pick in the OHL Priority Draft earlier this year.
“It’s awesome, unbelievable,” said the forward prior to last night’s game. “When I went for a tryout I thought it would be special if I made the team. Now the dream has come true.”
Hargrave has appeared in all 21 games with the Sting this season and has two goals and two assists and is minus-one. Hargrave has made great strides after getting off to a slow start.
“I needed to work on my speed. I think I’ve picked that up because this league is so much faster. Everything happens so quickly.”
Sting assistant general manager, Mark Glavin is pleased to see Hargrave land a spot on the Under-17 roster.
“It’s a great honour for Brett and well-deserved. He is one of the top 1996-born players in the province. It will be a great learning for him playing in this event and he will come back with a ton of confidence.”
The Sting finished with 30-26 edge in shots on goal against Barrie. Sarnia was one-for-four on the power play and Barrie one-for-three.
Sarnia’s overall record fell to 12-8-0-1 while Barrie is first in the Eastern Conference at 15-5-0-1.
The Sting continues their three-game road trip Friday night when they take on the Sudbury Wolves. Sarnia will be in Sault Ste. Marie Sunday night to battle the Greyhounds. The next home game for the Sting is next Thursday when they host the London Knights beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for the London game and all remaining Sting home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
- Rookie forward Daniel Nikandrov was back in the Sting lineup after missing several games with a concussion. He did not look out of place.
- Not dressed for the Sting were Craig Hottot, who was serving the final game of a 10-game suspension, Davis Brown (concussion), David Nemecek (flu) and Mike DiPaulo (numbers).
- Athanasiou was the game’s first star with Boucher second star and Camara third star.
- Sting captain Alex Galchenyuk picked up two assists to give him five goals and eight assists in his last five games. Sarault had one assist and has one goal and 11 assists in five games.