By DAVE BORODY
OTTAWA – The Sarnia Sting lost a heart breaker Friday night.
A fluke goal with just over a minute remaining gave the Ottawa 67s a 4-3 win over the Sting in front of 6,786 fans at Scotia Bank Place, (home of the Ottawa Senators).
The loss was the fourth in five games for the Sting in the Ontario Hockey League as their overall record fell to 27-19-0-3.
The Sting has also fallen to seventh spot in the Western Conference, one point behind Sault Ste. Marie, who knocked off the Plymouth Whalers 6-5.
With time running out in the third period, Ottawa defenceman Mike Vlajkov took a low slapshot from the point. The puck went wide of the goal, but came off the backboards, hit the skate of Sting goalie J.P. Anderson and into the net.
Three times in the game Sarnia had fought back from one-goal deficits to tie the game. The Sting’s third goal came at 16:11 of period three on the power play.
Ottawa scored the only goal of period one at 9:24 on the power play when Michal Cajkovsky drilled home a high slapshot from the point.
The Sting could muster just seven shots in the first period.
The 67s took a 2-0 lead at 3:40 of period two when John Urbanic wristed a shot from the face-off circle that beat Anderson cleanly.
Sarnia finally got on the board at 14:40 when Reid Boucher took a goalmouth pass from Charlie Sarault and lifted a backhander into the top corner of the net.
The Sting tied the game at 7:11 of period three when Anthony DeAngelo was allowed to skate right to the net and he slipped the puck between the legs of goalie Jacob Blair for his seventh of the season.
But 45 seconds later Ottawa regained the lead at 3-2 when Vlajkov took advantage of a Sting giveaway to blast a slapshot home from the left point.
Boucher pulled Sarnia even at 16:11 on a power play as he drilled home a cross-ice pass from Sarault. It was Boucher’s league-leading 42nd goal of the season while Sarault’s assist was his third of the game.
Vlajkov scored what turned out to be the game-winner at 18:43. Sarnia couldn’t get Anderson out of the net until there was less than 30 seconds to play. Unfortunately they never threatened to tie the game.
Ottawa finished with a 34-31 edge in shots on goal. Sarnia was one-for-four with the man advantage while Ottawa was one-for-three.
It was the first game with Sarault as team captain, replacing Alex Galchenyuk, who will stay with the Montreal Canadiens for the remainder of the season.
“We are all proud of Alex,” said Sarault. “We know how hard he works and he deserves it. But we also have to flip the page. I’m glad to be named captain and try and make the most of it.”
Sarault added, “We have a young team. But I’ve played a lot of games and know this league pretty well. I want to show good leadership both on and off the ice.”
Sarault had close to 100 family and friends in attendance, as this will be his final swing to eastern Ontario teams this season.
Next action for the Sting is Saturday night when they face the Belleville Bulls beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the Yardman Arena. They complete their eastern Ontario road trip Sunday afternoon in Kingston when they battle the Frontenacs.
Next weekend the Sting will be in London Thursday to take on the Knights. They return home Friday night to meet the Saginaw Spirit beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. Sarnia will also be home Sunday afternoon to the Barrie Colts starting at 2:05 p.m.
Tickets for all remaining home games for the Sting are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
- Sarnia is now 8-8 since Galchenyuk left the team before Christmas.
- Vlajkov was named the game’s first star with Boucher second star and Urbanic third star.
- Defenceman David Nemecek was the only healthy scratch for the Sting. Defenceman Anthony DeAngelo was back in the Sting lineup after sitting out one game due to a coach’s decision.
- DeAngelo was named the OHL’s defencemen performer of the month in January. He scored two goals and assisted on 13 others for 15 points in only 11 games.
- Sarnia’s road record dropped 14-10-0-1 while Ottawa won for only the fifth time in 23 home games.
- There are two busloads of Sting fans that have made the trip to cheer on the Sting this weekend.
- The Sting will be on Sportsnet twice before the regular season ends. The first game is Feb. 15th at Windsor and the second one they host the London Knights March. 8th.
- Sarnia will play 13 games during the month of February.