By DAVE BORODY
PLYMOUTH, Michigan – The Sarnia Sting may not have won a hockey game Saturday night, but they can hold their heads up for the effort they put forth.
The Sting dropped a 4-0 decision to the Plymouth Whalers before 3,429 fans at the Compuware Sports Arena.
Despite playing their third game in as many nights, Sarnia stayed with the Whalers for much of the game.
Plymouth, who won their eighth straight game, led 1-0 after the first period and 2-0 after the second before scoring two quick goals early in the third period to put the game out of reach.
“Our kids really battled hard tonight and it was nice to see,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “I thought we were better than last night against Erie. We showed lots of energy for playing our third game in three nights. We’ve played lots of hockey this month and it’s time to rest.”
Sarnia played 13 games in 23 days.
“We need a few days off. Juniors need to practice because they tend to forget. They aren’t professionals yet. A couple of good practices will do this team a world of good.”
Rookie Knick Dawe went the distance in goal for the Sting and played well as he faced 37 shots. Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside all 20 shots he faced in recording his first career Ontario Hockey League shutout.
The Whalers scored the only goal of period one at 13:19 when Tom Wilson deflected home a point shot. Plymouth made it 2-0 at 5:27 of period two when Rickard Rakell backhanded home a shot from close range.
Any chance of a Sting comeback ended early in the third period as Mitchell Heard scored at the 59-second mark while Stefan Noesen banged home a loose puck at 5:38.
The shutout loss means Sting forward Reid Boucher remains stuck at 57 goals on the season. He needs just one more to tie the team record held by Steven Stamkos. Captain Charlie Sarault needs two points for 100.
The Sting will remain on the road for a pair of games next weekend. Sarnia travels to London to battle the Knights on Friday night while they take on the Spirit in Saginaw on Saturday night.
Sarnia’s next home game is March 8 when they host the Knights at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. The game will be shown in Sportsnet TV.
Tickets for all remaining home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Overage goalie J.P. Anderson of the Sting did not make the trip. Beaulieu says he wants to give Anderson a few days off. Anderson had started 10 straight games in goal for the Sting. Ryan Hergott served as backup to Dawe.
Rookie goalie Brodie Barrick is back skating after suffering a broken ankle eight weeks ago. He could be ready for game action in a week’s time.
Plymouth took four of six meetings between the two teams this season.
Sarnia was zero-for-five with the man advantage and Plymouth zero-for-four.
Sarnia’s magic number to clinch a playoff spot remains at one.
The Sting’s overall record is now 33-25-0-3 and 17-13-0-1 on the road.
Sarnia has seven games left, four at home and three on the road.