By DAVE BORODY
NORTH BAY – Rookie Nikita Korostelev got his chance to play on the top line Thursday night and he made the most of it.
The first round draft pick scored two goals, including the winner, and added two assists in leading the Sarnia Sting to a 5-3 victory over the North Bay Battalion in front of 2,960 fans at the North Bay Memorial Gardens.
“It feels great, but it’s even better we got two points after a long bus trip,” said Korosetelev, who notched his first four-point game of his young OHL career.
“I seemed to find my game tonight. I got some real nice passes from Nikolay (Goldobin) and Daniel (Nikandrov) and made my chances count.”
Sting head coach Trevor Letowski said it was Korostelev’s best game of the season.
“He had a couple of good ones early in the year. I talked to him this week and he’s more comfortable every game. He was a horse out there tonight and was a dangerous player every time he stepped onto the ice”.
Letowski said he couldn’t be more proud of his team’s performance as it was only their second road win in 10 games.
“Again, a great effort from our group. They are a physical team and come after you hard. But we dug down. Twice we got down by a goal and came back to tie. We didn’t have our full lineup. We then got a power play late in the game and executed. I’m very proud of these guys.”
The Sting played without three of their top players, all out on suspensions. Bryan Moore sat out the fourth of a seven game suspension while Nick Latta and Josh Chapman were both serving the second of three game suspensions.
Sarnia did play with the full compliment of 20 players as forward Ryan Vendramin was called up from the Sarnia Legionnaires and Nick Sproviero from the Lambton Shores Predators.
The teams traded four goals in the opening period.
After Ben Thomson opened the scoring for North Bay on a power play at 5:40, Nikolay Goldobin tied the game at 12:01 showing great patience before tucking the puck into an open net.
North Bay regained the lead at 14:25 on a goal by Nick Paul. Goldobin notched his second of the game 23 seconds later with Anthony DeAngelo and Nikita Korostelev drawing assists.
After a scoreless second period, Sarnia outscored North Bay 3-1 in period three.
Korostelev put the Sting up 3-2 at 4:29 when he took a pass from Nikandrov and picked the top corner on the stick side.
The Sting nursed that lead until the 16:17 mark when Paul scored his second of the night for the Battalion to tie the game at 3-3.
Korostelev scored what proved to be the winning goal at 18:11 from close range. It was his seventh of the year.
“The shot came from the blue line. I managed to get the rebound and saw a little opening between the goalie’s pad and the post and managed to poke it behind him,” said Korostelev.
Nikandrov iced the game scoring into an open net with 14.8 seconds left for his third of the year.
Sarnia got another solid performance in goal from Taylor Dupuis who turned aside 41 of 44 shots he faced, including 19 in the third period. Dupuis has now scored 102 shots in his last two games.
“Dupuis was a big factor in this win. We got hemmed in a couple of times in the third period and he stood tall,” said Letowski.
Dupuis stopped a breakaway in the second period.
Sarnia fired 23 at Jake Smith between the pipes for North Bay.
Sarnia concludes their mini two-game road trip Friday night when they take on the Sudbury Wolves.
The Sting return home Sunday to battle the Guelph Storm at 4:05 p.m.at the RBC Centre.
It will be the 16th annual Teddy Bear Toss Game. Fans are encouraged to bring a stuff animal to the game and throw it on the ice when the Sting scores their first goal. The bears will be collected and handed out to various charities in the community.
Tickets for Sunday’s game and all remaining home games of the Sting are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Goldobin was first star with Paul second star and Korostelev third star. Goldobin now leads the Sting with 20 goals.
The line of Goldobin, Korostelev and Nikandrov combined for 10 points.
Sarnia was one-for-one on the power play and North Bay one-for-two.
Prior to the game, Letowski met his former coach when Letowski played in Switzerland in 2004. Mike McBarlane is now coaching the Nipissing Lakers university team in North Bay.
Sting assistant coach Andy Delmore played a year and a half for North Bay and won a league title before being traded to the Sting.
DeAngelo was named defenceman of the month for November this week. Angelo played 16 games and notched three goals and 12 assists. DeAngelo leads all OHL defencemen in scoring. He had two assists and now has 41 points on the season.
Earlier this week DeAngelo was one of 25 players selected for the USA team that will compete in the world junior hockey championships in Sweden. The USA team will make three cuts prior to the start of the tournament.
Ex-Sting Reid Boucher made his National Hockey League debut Wednesday night for the New Jersey Devils against Montreal. Boucher had an assist during regulation time and scored in the shootout.
Renovations at the Memorial Gardens are expected to be completed sometime this month at a cost of $12 million. To date the Battalion front office staff has worked out of city hall. Capacity is now about 4,400 with standing room.
Matt Ciccarelli remains sidelined with a shoulder injury. There is no timetable for his return.
Sarnia’s overall record improved to 10-17-0-2.