By DAVE PAUL
A spectacular effort by Sarnia Sting goalie Taylor Dupuis helped the Sting salvage a point in a home-and-home series vs. the Windsor Spitfires, Sunday afternoon at RBC Centre.
The Sting dropped Sunday's game in a 3-2 overtime shootout. But it was Dupuis' 56-save performance that stood out, in an otherwise forgettable contest for the home team.
Coming off a 6-3 loss in Windsor on Saturday, the Sting sent a depleted lineup into battle in the return match -- a Sunday matinee.
Both Nick Latta and Josh Chapman have suspensions pending and were ineligible for Sunday's game, while Bryan Moore is also serving a suspension.
The absence of so much top-end talent showed, especially early in the game as the Sting were outshot, 24-5, in the first period. However, thanks to Dupuis, the frame ended with the two teams deadlocked 0-0.
The Sting took one-goal leads in the second and third -- on goals by defencemen Jimmy McDowell and Zachary Core, respectively -- but the Spitfires came back to tie things each time on goals by Kirby Rychel and Joshua Ho-Sang.
After a scoreless overtime period, Windsor was finally able to solve Dupuis in the shootout, scoring on three of four attempts -- vs. the Sting's two goals -- to take the two points.
Despite the loss, Sting coach Trevor Letowski said he was "overall, very happy" with the results of the entire weekend (which also included an OT win over Saginaw on Friday).
"We were in tough today ... missing some key guys," said Letowksi. "We`re not really all that deep to start with.
"We kind of held on for dear life in the first, but after that I didn't think we were all that bad," he added.
While the length of suspensions to Latta and Chapman are not yet known, Letowski said the team cannot mope about its predicament.
"No one's going to come in and save us right now," said Letowski, implying the team won't be acquiring any players to replace its missing stars.
"We have to continue to develop players ... our guys are going to have step up," said Letowski. "We just have to continue to grind and work ... and keep stressing a strong effort."
As for the work of Dupuis, Letowski had nothing but praise.
"'Dupes' has been on his game for a while now ... he was the difference tonight," said the coach.
Dupuis -- who was the game's first star for the second time in three contests -- said he withstood the barrage of shots by "just trying to handle them one-by-one."
He said he prefers facing a regular flow of shots. "I like to keep them coming (rather than) facing one then having a big delay between next one."
When you face more shots, "you feel good, like you're in the game, and start seeing them better," he said, though he admitted that "obviously, smaller doses" is preferable to the number of shots he faced on Sunday.
The Sting travel to North Bay (Thursday) and Sudbury (Friday) before returning home to host Guelph on Sunday.