By DAVE BORODY
The Sarnia Sting got back in the win column in a big way Saturday night.
Led by the four-goal performance of Reid Boucher, the Sting skated to a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa 67s in front of 3,276 fans at the RBC Centre.
The win ended a mini two game-losing streak for the Sting in the Ontario Hockey League improving their overall record 25-15-0-3 mark.
For Boucher, it marked the first time this season he has scored four goals in a game. He had the hat trick against Saginaw back in November.
The four goals gives him 35 on the season, tops in the OHL. Sarnia has 25 games remaining in the regular season giving the second-year winger a wonderful chance to hit 50 on the season.
“Scoring four is better than scoring three,” joked Boucher after the game. “I had a couple of easy ones tonight. I know I missed a breakaway in the second period, but I’ll remember the four goals more.”
Boucher got the Sting rolling scoring his first goal at 1:51 of period one. The Sting led 2-0 after one period and 4-0 after the second.
“Getting that early goal gave us a lot of momentum,” said Boucher. “It picked everyone up and certainly helps the confidence level.”
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu says it’s easy to see why Boucher has 35 goals on the season.
“He’s got a knack (for scoring goals). He shoots the puck so well and he finds the open spots on the ice. He’s on pace for 50.”
Defenceman Craig Duininck scored the other Sting goal, his fifth of the year while Dante Salituro scored the lone Ottawa goal at 17:23 of the third period spoiling Knick Dawe’s shutout bid.
Beaulieu liked the way his team played.
“Defensively we were real good. We didn’t give up 10 scoring chances. Ottawa is a young team and struggling a bit right now, but you still need to get the job done. It was nice to score some goals tonight after scoring just three in our last three goals. Getting one early give us some early jump and you knew we were going to get more.”
Sarnia is coming off a stretch of games where they played eight games over 13 days posting a 5-3 mark.
“I’m really happy with the young guys and the way they are playing. They are playing hard and holding their own. That’s allowing the big guns to put points up. We’ve also had a number of our top players out of the lineup during this stretch.”
As for giving his players some much-needed rest, Beaulieu said, “They will get two days off and then it’s three good days of practice to get ready for next weekend. We’ve been out of our routine the last few weeks and hardly worked out at all. Remember, these guys are still juniors and need to practice in order to execute our systems.”
Charlie Sarault chipped in with three assists and leads the OHL in that department with 51. Newcomer Tyler Hore, acquired in a trade with Oshawa, notched his first point in a Sting uniform assisting on Boucher’s fourth goal.
“He’s big, but he’s raw,” said Beaulieu. “He’s a good skater and he seems to have a little more offensive upside than I thought.”
Dawe faced only 16 shots, but needed to stop a penalty shot in the second period with the score 3-0 at the time. Sarnia peppered Ottawa goalie Jacob Blair with 35 shots.
Sarnia was one-for-seven with the man advantage while Ottawa, who came into the game with the top power play in the league, was zero-for-seven.
The Sting has only two games next weekend. They will host the Erie Otters on Friday night while they travel to Windsor Sunday afternoon to battle the Spitfires.
Tickets for all remaining home games for the Sting are on sale at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at www.sarniasting.com .
Boucher was first star with Dawe second star and Sarault third star. Hore was the Dickie’s hardest working player of the game. Boucher is the second Sting player to score four goals in a game. Nikolay Goldobin was the other on Jan. 1 against London.
Sarnia went with the same lineup as Friday in Kitchener. Alex Basso missed his second game in a row with the flu.
Sting expects to have overage goalie J.P. Anderson back next weekend.
Sarnia’s home record improved to 11-9-0-2.
Ottawa has just 12 wins and are currently 15 points out of a playoff spot. The last time they missed the playoffs was 1995.