By DAVE BORODY
OWEN SOUND – The Sarnia Sting dropped a 4-2 decision to the Owen Sound Attack, Saturday night in front of 3,313 fans at the Bayshore Community Centre.
The Sting concluded the regular season in the Ontario Hockey League on a four-game losing streak. Their overall record for the year is 35-28-1-4.
Sarnia will finish seventh in the Western Conference and take on the Plymouth Whalers in the opening round of the playoffs.
The opening two games in the best of seven series will be played in Plymouth on Friday and Saturday at the Compuware Sports Arena. Games three and four will be at the RBC Centre on Monday, March 25th and Wednesday March 27th.
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu was happy with the way his team played against the Attack.
“The kids played hard. I take a bit of exception to their coach and some of his coaching tactics. He was screaming at his own players telling them to go out and hurt our kids. There’s no play for that in hockey. It’s goonery hockey.”
He added, “We got down in the second period, but we showed some good push back. Our penalty killing was only average. We took some penalties that maybe we shouldn’t have.”
Owen Sound was three-for-five with the man advantage while Sarnia was one-for-three.
A scoreless first period saw the Attack outshoot the Sting 14-4. Sarnia was forced to kill off a four-minute Attack power play.
But Owen Sound jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period thanks to three power play goals.
Steven Janes opened the scoring at 5:49 when he had an open net to knock in a rebound. Genel Smith increased the lead to 2-0 at 10:26 when he beat Sting goalie J.P. Anderson from close range.
The Sting cut the lead in half at 14:18 with a power play goal of their own as Nikolay Goldobin notched his 30th of the year with a sharp angle shot. Anthony DeAngelo and Charlie Sarault drew assists.
But Owen Sound restored their two-goal edge two minutes later when Chris Bigras scored on another rebound.
The Sting cut the lead to 3-2 at 4:36 of period three when Nick Latta tipped home a goalmouth pass from Daniel Nikandrov for his 17th goal of the year. Goldobin also gained an assist.
But the Sting could not come up with the equalizer down the stretch. They pulled Anderson with over a minute to play and had two excellent chances on shots from the point that goalie Jordan Binnington stopped.
Owen Sound iced the game when Zack Nastasiuk scored into an open net with 52 seconds remaining.
Binnington made 23 saves in goal for the Attack while Anderson stopped 37 shots.
Goldobin finished with a goal and an assist to win the OHL rookie scoring title. He finished with 30 goals and 38 assists for 68 points, nosing out Connor McDavid of Erie, who had 25 goals and 41 assists for 66 points. McDavid had four assists in a 5-4 win over Guelph.
Sarault’s one assist gave him 108 points on 22 goals and 86 assists. He leads Vincent Trocheck of Plymouth by two points for the OHL scoring title. Trocheck had a goal and an assist Saturday. He has one game left Sunday against Windsor.
Reid Boucher finished with 62 goals to lead that department. He had 95 points overall, but did not score in his final three games.
Beaulieu says he’s looking forward to the playoffs.
“It will be exciting. We have to keep playing hard. We need to shore up a few things on our special teams.”
Beaulieu knows the Sting will be underdogs against Plymouth, but doesn’t mind.
“It’s nice to be underdogs. We are up against a real good team, but I think our kids will be up to the challenge.”
Playoff tickets for the Sting will be on sale at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com. The cost is $22 for adults and $14 for children.
- Defenceman David Nemecek was back in the Sting lineup after missing two games as a healthy scratch. Defenceman Joshua Chapman did not dress. Knick Dawe was backup to Anderson.
- Sarnia finished the year with 18-13-0-2 record on the road.
- Owen Sound took three of four meetings between the two clubs this season
- All three stars were from Owen Sound as the three were the team’s overagers. One was ex-Sting Nathan Chiarlitti.
- The other Western Conference matchups in the first round include London vs Saginaw, Owen Sound vs Sault Ste. Marie and Kitchener vs Guelph.