By DAVE BORODY
SAULT STE. MARIE – The Sarnia Sting gave the sixth-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League all they could handle, and then some, Friday night at the Essar Centre.
Unfortunately the effort fell just a little short.
The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds defeated the Sting 5-3 in front of 4.278 fans in Ontario Hockey League action.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Sting while the Greyhounds ended a three-game losing skid.
The game was close from start to finish, as the teams were tied 1-1 after the first period before the Greyhounds took a 3-2 advantage after 40 minutes.
The Sting pulled to within a goal at 4-3 with just over three minutes to play in regulation time before the Greyhounds scored into an open net with 22 seconds remaining.
“This was a big test for our hockey club,” said Sting head coach Trevor Letowski. “We knew they were a desperate hockey team and they aren’t used to losing. I knew they would could hard at us.
“But I liked out compete level. Taylor Dupuis made some big saves in goal and gave us a chance to win. We made a couple of mistakes in the second period that resulted in two goals. One time we turned the puck over and the second time our player lost his stick, we turned the puck over and paid the price.”
Letowski added, “The positive thing is we stuck in there right until the end. I liked that. We were just one shot away from tying the game up.”
The Greyhounds have now won two of three meetings against the Sting this season. The clubs meet three more times.
Sarnia opened the scoring at 3:42 of period one when Davis Brown finished off a two-on-one break with Daniel Nikandrov. It was Brown’s fourth goal of the season and second is as many games.
Jared McCann tied the game for the Hounds at 14:35 scoring from close range.
The home side took a 2-1 lead just 50 seconds into period two when Michael Bunting scored on a high wrist shot from a sharp angle.
Sarnia had a great chance to tie the game, but Erik Robichaud was stopped on breakaway by Hounds goalie Matt Murray.
Sault Ste. Marie increased their lead to 3-1 at 17:53 with the game’s only power play goal as Kyle Jenkins scored on a slapshot.
But with just 8.3 seconds left in the period the Sting closed the gap to 3-2 when Vladislav Kodola banged home a rebound for his second goal of the season. Nikita Korostelev and Nikolay Goldobin picked up assists.
What turned out to be the winning goal happened just 1:25 into period three when David Miller knocked in a rebound after Dupuis had made three saves.
After killing off two penalties, Sarnia pulled to within one at 16:44 when Goldobin snapped a quick shot home from the face-off circle for his 15th goal of the year.
But the Sting could not come up with the equalizer before Andrew Fritsch scored into an open net with 22 seconds left to play.
Sault Ste. Marie finished with a 32-25 edge in shots on goal. Sarnia was zero-for-four with the man advantage and Sault Ste. Marie one-for-six.
The Sting finishes off this mini two-game road trip Saturday night in Saginaw against the Spirit.
Sarnia has a 3-0 record against Saginaw this season, but Letowski knows it will be a tough game. “They are a good team and they know they are 0-3 against us so I expect them to come out hard and we have to come out and play our best hockey.”
Miller was first star with McCann second star and Goldobin third star.
Sarnia welcomed defenceman Josh Chapman back in the lineup after missing three games with a knee problem.
Sting defenceman Jeff King had his first fight of his OHL career and handled himself extremely well.
Sarnia’s overall record dropped to 8-15-0-1 while they are now 3-8-0-0 on the road. Sault Ste. Marie is 10-1-0-1 at home.