By DAVE BORODY
ERIE, Pa. – The Sarnia Sting made it three wins in a row with a hard-fought 5-4 shootout victory over the Erie Otters, Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 4,439 at the Erie Insurance Arena.
Overager Charlie Sarault scored the winning goal in the shootout. He was the fifth shooter in the shootout.
The win improved Sarnia’s record to 23-13-0-3 in the Ontario Hockey League.
Sarnia never trailed against Erie as the teams were tied 2-2 after the first period while the Sting led 3-2 after the second. Sarnia increased their lead to 4-2 in the opening minute of period three before the Otters fought back with goals at 6:35 at 15:24 to force overtime.
“It was another interesting game,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “I thought our kids played hard. We did what we had to do. It was a bit of an unfortunate break on the tying goal.”
He added, “I liked the way Knick Dawe played in goal tonight. He made some solid saves. I also liked the way we controlled the play and we had a number of good scoring chances.”
Dawe got his second win in a row in as many games as he faced 34 shots. Sarnia had 29.
Overage goalie J.P. Anderson did not make the trip after not playing the second and third periods Friday night against Windsor.
“It’s precautionary,” said Beaulieu. “He has a sore groin. He felt something in the first period. We decided not to take any chances and give him some rest. He’s going to get some treatments over the next couple of days and hopefully be ready for next week.”
Anderson had started 13 straight games. He sports a 18-11-0-3 record with a 2.95 goals against average and a .910 save percentage.
Just a week ago the Sting lost rookie backup goalie Brodie Barrick with a broken ankle. He’s expected to be out at least six weeks.
“It’s tough because Brodie would have played a few games. It’s unfortunate both injuries happened at basically the same time. There’s not much we can do about it,” said Beaulieu.
The teams traded four goals in the opening period.
Reid Boucher opened the scoring for the Sting just 48 seconds into the game when he picked the top corner from close range. Dane Fox of the Otters tied the game at 5:39 knocking in a pass out.
Nikolay Goldobin put the Sting ahead at 13:19 on the power play before Fox notched his second of the night for the Otters at 17:05, coming off a Sting giveaway. It was Goldobin’s 21st of the year.
Boucher scored the only goal of period two at 9:48 on the power play. He took a pass from Goldobin and fired home a quick shot for his second of the game and 30th goal of the season.
Charlie Sarault gave the Sting a 4-2 lead 43 seconds into period with his 15th goal of the year. He skated into the slot and snapped home a quick wrist shot.
But the Otters wouldn’t go away. Luke Cairns pulled Erie to within a goal at 6:35 while Fox completed his hat trick with the tying goal at 15:24 on a two-on-one break.
Sarnia had a 4-1 edge in shots on goal in the five-minute overtime period, but none of the shots were dangerous.
Sarnia finished two-for-three on the power play while Erie was zero-for-three.
The line of Sarault, Boucher and Goldobin combined for eight points.
Next action for the Sting is Sunday afternoon when they take on the Niagara IceDogs at 2 p.m. in St. Catharines.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Beaulieu. “We won’t have a lot of time to recover. We just have to play well defensively and wait for our chances.”
Sarnia stays on the road Wednesday in Sault Ste. Marie and Friday in Kitchener.
Their next home game is Saturday when they host the Ottawa 67s beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for all remaining home games for the Sting are on sale at RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at www.sarniasting.com
- Fox was first star with Sarault second star and Cairns third star.
- Sarnia is now 2-0 against Erie this year with two more meetings, both at the RBC Centre.
- The Sting improved to 13-4-0-1 on the road.
- The Sting expects forward Brett Hargrave back in the lineup Sunday afternoon after attending the World Under-17 Challenge in Quebec.
- Sting fans will get their first look at Otters prized rookie Connor McDavid when they come to the RBC Centre on Jan. 18th.
- The three Sting players at the World Juniors, Alex Galchenyuk, Connor Murphy and Nick Latta will not be back with the team until next week.
Beaulieu says the Sting organization salutes Galchenyuk and Murphy for winning the gold medal defeating Sweden 2-1.
“We are very proud of both of them. It’s great they did it. Both of them played a lot and both played well.”
The Sting will honour the gold medal winners Saturday against Ottawa.
- Goldobin had a goal and two assists and now has 39 points, one back of McDavid for the rookie scoring lead. McDavid did not play against the Sting.