By DAVE BORODY
“We just ran out of gas in the third period.”
Those were the words of Sarnia Sting head coach, Trevor Letowski after watching his team drop a 6-3 decision to the Erie Otters, Friday night in front of 2,855 fans at the RBC Centre.
The loss dropped Sarnia’s record to 1-2 in the Ontario Hockey League.
With the game tied 3-3 after two periods, Erie scored three goals in the final seven minutes of the final period to skate off with the victory.
“The winning goal came off a power play and it was unfortunate for us,” said Letowski. “We gave ourselves a chance and it just wasn’t enough.
“I think we have learned a lot in these three games. We’ve been in every game and they all have been close. It’s a good experience for the young guys and it’s something we can build on.”
The Sting had problems controlling Erie’s big line, led by sophomore sensation, Connor McDavid. He and his linemates, Dane Fox and Connor Brown combined for 12 points. At least one of the three was in on all six Otters goals.
The teams split a pair of goals in period one.
Fox opened the scoring for Erie at the 3:50 mark before captain Craig Duininck tied the game for Sarnia at 19:26 with his second goal of the season.
Duininck took a cross-ice pass from Nikolay Goldobin and snapped a shot over the shoulder of Otters goalie Oscar Dansk.
Erie took a 2-1 lead early in period two when McDavid was left alone in front of the Sting and he made no mistake for his first goal of the season.
But Sarnia’s power, which was zero-for-20 going into the second frame, finally clicked for a pair of goals to take a 3-2 lead. Goldobin scored both goals.
His first came at 13:39 when he drilled home a high shot from his wrong wing while the second came at 15:59 when he knocked in a goalmouth pass from Daniel Nikandrov.
“It was nice to see the power play work tonight,” said Letowski. “I know the guys were getting a little frustrated. But we were moving the puck around much better tonight and I knew it was just a matter of time.”
Erie cashed in on their first power play of the game before the second period ended as their top draft pick, Dylan Strome tapped in a goalmouth pass from McDavid.
The Sting was just eight seconds away from killing a penalty before Erie scored what proved to be the game-winner at 13:01 of period three when Andre Burakovsky, a first round draft pick of the Washington Capitals, whipped a quick shot past Sting goalie Brodie Barrick from the left wing.
Fox gave Erie a 5-3 lead at 15:19 converting on his own rebound while Brown iced the game scoring into an open net with 31.4 seconds left.
“We battled good in the first and second periods and should have scored more goals,” said Nick Latta, who had one assist for the Sting. “They (Erie) outworked us in the last period. I don’t know why, but that won’t happen again.”
Latta added, “It’s one game and we just have to put it behind us. We need a good night’s sleep, go twice as hard at practice and be ready for Sunday.”
Erie finished with a 39-33 edge in shots on goal. Sarnia was two-for-seven with the man advantage and Erie two-for-three.
Next action for the Sting is Sunday afternoon when they host the North Bay Battalion. Game time is 4:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
“It’s an important game for us,” said Letowski. “I know it’s early in the season, but we want to get back to the .500 mark. We want to keep moving forward. It will still be a successful weekend to get four out of six points.”
Tickets for Sunday’s game and all 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
Fox (two goals and two assists) was first star while Goldobin, (two goals and one assist) was second star while McDavid, (one goal and two assists), and was third star. Brown had four assists for the Otters.
Goldobin leads the Sting in scoring with four goals and two assists in three games. Nikandrov and Anthony DeAngelo chipped in with a pair of assists for the Sting.
The Sting honoured long-time broadcaster, Murray Vosbourgh, who retired after last season. Vosbourgh was presented with a team sweater with his favourite number 44 on it, signed by all the players. He also received a financial gift from Sting owners, Robert and Larry Ciccarelli, to help with expenses for Murray and his wife, Mary Ann’s honeymoon to Europe next month.
Scratches for the Sting were Mike DiPaolo, Noah Bushnell, Connor Schlichting and Jordan Addesi.
Letowski said Taylor Dupuis will start in goal Sunday against North Bay.