By DAVE BORODY
game photos by Dave Paul
Another last minute goal came back to haunt the Sarnia Sting Saturday night.
The Niagara Ice Dogs scored with 36.4 seconds left in regulation time and went on to edge the Sting 4-3 in a shootout in front of 2,693 fans at the RBC Centre.
Alexander Protapovich drilled a high slapshot from the right side past Sting netminder Taylor Dupuis to force overtime. Niagara goalie Christopher Festarini was on the bench for an extra attacker.
After five minutes of sudden death overtime solved nothing, Carter Verhaeghe of the IceDogs was the only player of the six shooters to score in the shootout to provide his team with two points.
Sarnia did manage to pick up a point for the shootout loss, but it marked the third time in seven games this season Sarnia has given up a goal in the final minute.
Sting head coach Trevor Letowski said getting one point out of the game was bittersweet.
“We had a very important third period tonight. After two periods we were down by a goal and needed to respond. I was a little concerned, but the guys dug down in the third period and played a solid 20 minutes. No doubt it was a tough last minute to give up the goal.”
With four losses in a row, Letowski felt his team was ready to play.
“It was like a roller coaster ride. I thought we came out ready to go, but penalties took the flow of the game away and it took our legs away. But like I said, I liked our response in the third period. We definitely needed that.”
Sarnia scored the only goal of the opening period 4:33 when Davis Brown recorded his first goal of the season.
But Niagara bounced back with a pair of goals in the second frame as Verhaeghe tied the game at 6:52 while Jesse Graham gave his team the lead at 15:30.
But in the third veteran Nick Latta, who was celebrating his birthday, put the Sting ahead again with a pair of goals. His first came at 6:42 and the second at 8:02 on a great individual effort. He now has four goals on the season.
“Nick stepped up in a big way tonight,” said Letowski. “He played hard and scored a couple of big goals. Nick is a leader on this team and we need him to score.”
But in the end it wasn’t enough.
Niagara finished with a 34-29 edge in shots. Dupuis went the distance between the pipes for the Sting.
“It’s heart-breaking to lose like that,” said Dupuis. “We battled back in the third period and then had another last minute collapse. We still had a chance to win the game in the shootout, but didn’t it.”
Dupuis added, “There are some positives to take from the game, but we still need to be better. We didn’t show any quit and had a strong third period to get a point out if it.”
The Sting now own a 1-5-0-1 record in the Ontario Hockey League.
After playing three games in four nights, Sarnia now prepares for just two games next week, both at home. They host the London Knights Thursday night and the Windsor Spitfires Friday night. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for the two games 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
Latta was first star with Anthony DeAngelo (one assist) second star and Verhaeghe third star.
Sarnia finished zero-for-seven on the power play while Niagara was zero-for-five.
Vladislav Kodola, Nikolay Goldobin and DeAngelo all failed to score for the Sting in the shootout. The Sting was outshot 3-1 in the overtime period.
Niagara’s Anthony DiFruscia was handed a match penalty for slew-footing with three seconds left in overtime.