Guelph Storm Comeback to Down Sting sunday march 10, 2013
By DAVE BORODY
The Sarnia Sting has possessed one of the best power plays all season long in the Ontario Hockey League.
In fact they went into Sunday’s game rated number one.
But when they badly needed a goal with the man advantage Sunday afternoon, they couldn’t connect.
The Guelph Storm scored the game’s only power play goal and it turned out to be the game-winner in a 4-2 victory over the Sting in front of 3,177 fans at the RBC Centre.
The loss dropped Sarnia back into seventh place in the Western Conference standings, two points back of Sault Ste. Marie who rallied to defeat Kitchener 5-3.
Both Sarnia and Sault Ste. Marie have three games remaining. Finishing seventh means a first round playoff match up with Plymouth while ending up sixth will likely see Owen Sound in round one.
The Sting went zero-for-nine with the man advantage while Guelph was one-for-six. Sarnia had plenty of chances, but just couldn’t finish.
“We couldn’t capitalize on our chances and that was the difference,” said Sting associate coach, Trevor Letowski. “We had some quality chances. Sometimes the puck just doesn’t go in. We didn’t get any bounces.”
He added, “Give some credit to Guelph. They blocked the shooting lanes extremely well, their goalie played well while they give us trouble attempting to set up in their zone.”
Letowski said it was the type of game the Sting expected.
“When you look at the stats, they draw of penalties and take a lot of penalties as well. They are used to these penalty-filled games. Take the second period. There was no flow to the game. I think we had to kill almost 10 minutes of penalty time. It hurts because our top guys are also on the penalty kill. Unfortunately we came up a little short.”
Sarnia opened the scoring at 17:24 of period one when Reid Boucher took a cross-ice pass from Nikolay Goldobin and snapped a quick shot by the goalie for his 61st of the year.
Guelph tied the game with 28.5 seconds remaining in the period as Patrick Watling converted a pass out after the Sting lost the face-off in their own zone.
The Sting regained the lead at 4:42 of period two when Boucher scored his 62nd of the season. He and Goldobin teamed up again, this time on a two-on-one break.
But just over a minute later the Storm squared matters at 2-2 when Ben Harpur’s centering pass hit a Sting defenceman and went past goalie J.P. Anderson.
Then came the parade of penalties. It started when Sting defenceman David Nemecek was ejected with a five-minute major for interference and automatic game misconduct. Twice during the major the Sting took minor penalties and were two men short. The second one proved costly as Cody McNaughton scored what turned out to be the game winner at 12:26.
During the five-minute major, Boucher was awarded a penalty shot after being hooked from behind on a breakaway. But Storm goalie Garret Sparks made a nice pad save on the penalty shot.
The Sting did have chances in the third period. Craig Duininck rattled a point shot off the crossbar from the point while Goldobin was stopped on the penalty. Sarnia also had four power play opportunities in the third period.
But the Storm iced the game scoring a shorthanded goal into an open net by Tanner Richard with 51 seconds remaining.
Guelph held a 43-35 edge in shots on goal with both goalies making a number of quality saves.
“We took too many penalties,” said Sting captain Charlie Sarault, who had an assist in the game.
“We thought we might catch them a little tired being their third game in three days, but it wasn’t the case. Their goalie played well and we didn’t capitalize on our chances. Our power play was not what it should have been.”
Sarault now has 104 points on the season and holds a three-point lead over Nick Cousins and Vincent Trocheck in the battle for the OHL scoring title.
Letowski says the final three games are important for the Sting.
“It’s very important to try and get points every game down the stretch. We’ll see what happens this week. We need to play hard the last three games and play the right way going into the playoffs.”
Next action for the Sting is Thursday when they host the Saginaw Spirit beginning at 7:05 p.m. (Kids 12 and under will be admitted for only $5). Friday the Sting play their final home game hosting the Owen Sound Attack while those two teams end the regular season Saturday in Owen Sound.
Tickets for the remaining two home games, plus playoff tickets are on sale at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Sparkes was first star with Boucher second star and Goldobin third star. Duininck was the Dickies hardest-working player. He was back in action despite a bruised jaw and a few stitches sustained when hit in the face in Friday’s game.
Sarnia had the same lineup as Friday as Anthony DeAngelo served the second of his two-game suspension.
The Sting’s home record is now 17-13-0-2.
Sarnia and Guelph split four games this season.