By DAVE BORODY
SAULT STE. MARIE – The Sarnia Sting dropped a 3-1 decision to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, Wednesday night in front of 3,937 fans at the Essar Centre.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Sting and leaves them with an overall record of 24-13-0-3. They remain in first place in the West Division and second overall in the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League.
Sarnia never led against the Greyhounds trailing 1-0 after the first period and 2-1 after the second. Sault Ste. Marie scored their third goal into an open net in the final minute of the third period.
“It was a hard-fought game,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “We worked hard. We had our chances. But we’ve got to generate more offence. We can’t rely on Charlie (Sarault) and Reid (Boucher) every night. The kids have to be better and that’s the message we are going to bring.”
Beaulieu added, “Their first goal was clearly a high stick in the corner. The play should have been blown dead. It was a blown call. Remember they had their entire team while we were missing three of our top players. But it is what it is.”
The Sting played without starting goalie J.P. Anderson, who is nursing a groin injury. Beaulieu says Anderson may skate on Thursday and is listed as day-to-day. He has missed almost four games.
Alex Galchenyuk and Connor Murphy were both given the night off. The pair just returned from Russia where they helped Team USA win a gold medal at the world junior tournament.
Unfortunately the pair may be away from the Sting a little longer. Galchenyuk is expected to attend the Montreal Canadiens training camp and Murphy is going to the Phoenix Coyotes camp. Both are first round draft picks of their respective clubs.
The National Hockey League said Wednesday that juniors will be allowed to play six games in the NHL this season before their NHL teams must make a decision to send them back to junior or keep them.
The Sting and Greyhounds played an even first period, but it was Sault Ste. Marie who scored the only goal with 4.7 seconds left. Brandon Alderson deflected home a point shot that just trickled past Sting goalie Knick Dawe.
Sarnia tied the game six minutes into period two when Reid Boucher notched his league-leading 31st goal of the year backhanding home his own rebound between the legs of goalie Matt Murray. Alex Basso gained the only assist.
The goal switched the momentum of the game in Sarnia’s favour. They had several great scoring chances, including a pair of two-on-one breaks, but failed to score.
The Greyhounds took the lead for good at 16:26 Darnell Nurse was left alone near the Sarnia net and he made no mistake banging home a pass.
Nikolay Goldobin of the Sting had a wonderful chance early in period three when he skated in alone, but Murray stopped his low shot.
Dylan Staples put the game on ice for the Greyhounds scoring into an open net with 53.9 seconds left.
Dawe suffered his first loss in his fourth game for the Sting. He made 35 saves and was solid. Murray made 26 stops for the Greyhounds and also made a number of good stops.
Each team had two power plays and failed to score.
The OHL trade deadline is set for noon Thursday and the Sting have yet to make any deals. They will finish the season with two overagers as the deadline for adding overage players was Wednesday at noon.
“It has to be the right trade for us,” said Beaulieu. “I have a vision for this team and I’m going to stick to it. I’m not going to be lured away.”
He added, “It’s been tough to make a deal. I could make a deal if I gave away two, second round picks and two, third round picks. But I’m not in that business this year.”
Next action for the Sting is Friday in Kitchener while they return home Saturday to host the Ottawa 67s beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for that game and 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 www.sarniasting.com .
- Alderson (with a goal and an assist) was first star with Boucher second star and Ryan Sproul third star.
- Sarnia had forward Nick Latta back in the lineup. He missed six games while playing for Team Germany at the world junior tournament.
- Sarnia’s road record fell 14-5-0-1.
- Sault Ste. Marie is 6-0 on home ice since Sheldon Keefe replaced Mike Stapleton as head coach of the team. Overall the team is 8-4-0-1 under Keefe.
- Sarnia and Sault Ste. Marie have played six times this season and each team has won three times. They play each other two more times.