By Dave Borody
WINDSOR – The Sarnia Sting snatched defeat from the jaws of victory Sunday afternoon.
The Sting held a 4-2 lead a minute into period three before the hometown Windsor Spitfires stormed back with three goals, two in a span of 36 seconds, to post a 5-4 victory in front of 6,383 fans at the Windsor Family Credit Union Centre.
The loss snapped a modest two-game winning streak for the Sting and leaves them with an overall record of 26-16-0-3 record in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Spitfires never led in the game until scoring their fifth goal, snapping a 4-4 tie. After that they held on for dear life in the final 10 minutes of regulation time to escape with the two points.
“I think in the last five minutes or so we had seven to 10 scoring chances but couldn’t tie the game up,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “Give their goalie credit, he made some big saves down the stretch for them".
“Windsor pressured us hard. We turned the puck over too many times and it resulted in a couple of their goals. We missed some chances in the first period. We easily could have had a 3-0 lead in the opening period.”
Beaulieu said he wasn’t surprised it was a tight game.
“We are in a tough conference and a tough division. Anybody can beat anybody. They are in a fight for a playoff spot and we can’t be comfortable with our own points. You are going to get your share of scoring chances against these guys. You have to bury some of those chances and we didn’t.”
The Sting jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. Davis Brown knocked in a rebound at 1:38 for his fourth of the year while Reid Boucher scored a shorthanded goal at 4:37 after a nice cross-ice pas from Charlie Sarault.
Boucher’s goal was his league-leading 38th of the season while he has now scored seven goals in his last three games.
Windsor got one goal back at 6:29 when Alex Aleardi scored on a rebound.
Sarnia increased their lead to 3-1 five minutes into period two with their second shorthanded goal of the game. Again it was Sarault and Boucher who combined with Sarault finishing the play for his 16th of the season.
Windsor pulled to within one at 14:42 when Kerby Rychel scored on a wraparound.
Nick Latta gave Sarnia a two-goal cushion at 4-2 a minute into the third period with his ninth goal of the year.
But a Sting giveaway in the their own zone result in Windsor’s third goal at 2:55 as Alexander Khokhlachev finished off the play against Sting goalie J.P. Anderson.
Windsor tied the game a 7:33 when rookie Josh Ho-Sang had an open net on a great cross-ice pass while another of the Spitfires newcomers, Remy Giftopoulos, (acquired from Ottawa), scored what turned out to be the game-winner on a slapshot at 8:09.
For the rest of the third period Windsor held on for dear life as Sarnia threw just about everyone they had at goalie Jaroslav Pavelka.
The Sting had not had a power play in the game until getting two, almost back-to-back in the final nine minutes. They controlled the play in the Spitfires zone resulting in several great chances, but they were all turned aside by Pavelka.
Windsor finished with a 48-37 edge in shots on goal even though Sarnia held a 13-9 edge in the third period.
Beaulieu says the high shot total doesn’t bother him.
“Not really. They are like Kitchener in that they shoot from anywhere on the ice. They love to get pucks to the net from all over. We are more a puck possession team who like to control the boards on the cycle and wait for the good scoring chances. But you have to bury those chances when you get them.”
Windsor had just three power plays and failed to score.
“We played pretty good, but Windsor is a hot team right now,” said Latta, who has now scored in back-to-back games for the Sting. “They made it tough on us. We made a couple of mistakes and it cost us the game. We didn’t have any power plays until the third period and then their goalie stood on his head.”
The Sting prepare for a busy and important week. Sarnia travels to Mississauga Wednesday night before returning home to host the Plymouth Whalers Friday at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. The two teams will then meet Saturday in Plymouth.
Tickets for Friday’s 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 Sarniasting.com
- Khokhlachev was first star with a goal and two assists while Sarault was second star and Ho-Sand third star.
- Sarault’s two points gives him 70 points, as he is third place in OHL scoring, one back of Nick Cousins of Sault Ste. Marie and just three back of leader Seth Griffith of London.
- Sarnia’s road record fell to 14-7-0-1, but their 14 road victories is second most in the league, only behind London, who has 16.
- Windsor has now won four straight and have just one overtime loss in their last six. They also won for the first time in regulation this season after being behind after 40 minutes. Their record was 0-18-0-3.