Sarnia Sting Minor Midgets A/AA competed in the Avalanche Minor Sports Thanksgiving Challenge at the Canlan Ice Sports Complex on York University grounds in Toronto. They lost in the final game by a score of 5 to 4 to Ottawa Sting in a second round of shootouts after being tied at the end of regulation and with no one scoring in overtime.
Sarnia won in the preliminary round games by scores of 2-1 over the Avalanche, 3-2 over the Ottawa Sting, 3-2 over Guelph Storm and tied TNT Tornados 2-2. It seeded Sarnia first in the semis against Guelph out of the seven teams participating. They defeated Guelph again in their semi 4-1 while Ottawa knocked off the Avalanche in the other semi by a score of 9 to 5. That set the stage for the final that brought victory for the Sting from Sarnia so close but gave the championship to the Sting from Ottawa..
In the first game against the host team, Devin Butler faced off to start the game in what would be a defensive battle. At 9:46 Dillon Saunders scored an unassisted power play goal. With 3.8 seconds left in the period a penalty shot was called but Cole Lauzon was equal to the task in net and did not fall for the deke. In the second, Sarnia’s intensity increased but with no additional goal. With only 1:13 left in the game Avalanche scored to tie up the score but also incurred a penalty. That led to the winning goal by Jeff Williams with 39.6 seconds left assisted by Blain Adams and Nolan Riley.
Mat Szabo got the start in net for the second game played on Saturday. Unfortunately, Mike Pearce was called for a ‘hitting from behind’ penalty in the first which cost him the game and the following one. The team picked him up with a goal by Devin Butler at 6:59 of the second assisted by Shane Salisbury and Cullen Smith. Ottawa Sting tied it up with a goal by Adam Allard at 1:24. They then went ahead early in the third on a goal by Andrew Gordon. Sarnia fought back when Drew Morgan took a hard shot from the point on a power play and Nolan Riley deflected it home past the Ottawa goalie James Clarke. Blain Adams then scored the winning goal unassisted at 6:48.
The third game early Sunday afternoon against Guelph Storm saw Sarnia get into penalty trouble early with Williams and Butler putting the team two men down. It resulted in a Guelph goal by Eric Polstra at 10:10 and another by Jacob Sponga at 7:46. Cullen Smith worked well in his own corner to kill off more penalty time. Sarnia fought back with a goal by Dillon Saunders at 3:11 assisted by Kyle Adams and Richard McIntosh before the first ended. The Sting evened it up with a goal by Jeff Williams at 8:21 of the second assisted by Riley. Cole Lauzon kept the team in the game with a big save at 2:55 of the frame. Hard skating and close checking were the order in the third and 3 times Sarnia rang one off the post with shots from Morgan, Pearce and Riley. Kyle Adams got the winner for Sarnia at 5:14 assisted by McIntosh and Saunders. Our defense held when Guelph pulled their goalie Spencer Currie with just under 2 minutes to play.
The evening game saw the Sting face Tottenham Tornados. Sarnia got off to a hot start with a goal by Williams at 7:42 assisted by Riley then another by Kyle Adams assisted by McIntosh at 4:38. TNT retaliated with a goal at 4:38 and another at 7:34 of the second to tie the score. It remained that way for the rest of the game even though Sarnia out shot the Tornados 25 to 12 on the game. The tie seeded Sarnia first and put TNT out of the playoff. Szabo was solid in net when called upon for key saves.
Sarnia faced Guelph again in Semi-final 1 on Monday morning. The first was fairly even in play but the Storm took the lead with a goal at 3:31. The second period was close checking and scoreless. Sarnia was assessed 3 minors and Guelph 2. The Sting got untracked with a goal by Riley at 8:29 assisted by Morgan. Saunders added an unassisted goal at 4:29 then Riley fired another in at 2:27 assisted by Blain Adams. McIntosh put the icing on the cake with the fourth goal at 1:45 assisted by Adriano Fuoco. A nasty uncalled knee check on Tyler Drury put him out of the last half of the game and the final as well.
The final began with 7 shots on goal for Sarnia before Ottawa Sting had one. Nolan Riley though got the only goal for Sarnia in the period assisted by Williams. The period ended with no penalties as the Sting outshot Ottawa 13-3. Ottawa tied up the score early in the second on a power play goal. Sarnia took the lead late in the period when Gage Riddoch drove the puck home from the point on the power play assisted by Kyle Adams and Dillon Saunders. The Sting added their third goal with 3.3 seconds left on the clock in the second. Blain Adams fired it in set up by Jeff Williams. Ottawa scored at 8:37 of the third to make it close and then tied it up after pulling their goalie with 9.9 seconds left in the game. The overtime period provided some good chances but no goal so the shootout followed. Saunders got Sarnia’s only goal in the 5 man shootout with Ottawa’s fourth shooter tying the score again. The game went to sudden death shootout. Ottawa’s number 15 got his third goal when Ottawa shot first and Kevin Durco couldn’t quite put it in giving Ottawa the championship. Mat Szabo received a MVP trophy for his hard work in net. Next time Sarnia.