by DAVE PAUL
The Sarnia Sting put the finishing touches on a dismal weekend, falling 7-3 to the Mississauga Steelheads in OHL action, Saturday, at RBC Centre.
The loss was the third in three days for Sarnia, which was outscored by a combined 20-6 over the course of the weekend.
Missing five regulars due to injury, sickness and suspensions, Sting coach Trevor Letowski still opted to make enigmatic star defenceman Anthony DeAngelo a healthy scratch.
Letowski chose not to elaborate on the reasons for the decision, only saying it was for "disciplinary reasons."
While it left the Sting severely shorthanded for Saturday's contest, Letowski indicated it was something he felt he needed to do, adding he didn't regret the decision.
The missing bodies left the Sting with only 13 skaters and, while they held their own for the first 30 minutes or so, the team seemed to, once again, fade in the second half.
The Sting actually held a 2-1 lead midway through the contest. After giving up the only goal of the first period, Sarnia scored the first two goals of the second period.
Nikolay Goldobin got his 34th of the year on a power play breakaway to tie the game while Nick Latta jumped out of the penalty box to join a shorthanded rush and banged home a rebound for his 30th goal of the season, just before the 10 minute mark of the middle period.
But Sarnia then seemed to hit the wall, surrendering five straight goals -- three in the second period and two in the third -- as the game slipped away.
Mississauga's tying and go-ahead goal came just 47 seconds apart in the latter half of the second, and they took a 4-2 lead less than three minutes later. That flurry -- the game's obvious turning point -- was something from which the fatigued Sting could not battle back.
"That third goal really hurt us," said Letowski, following the game. "It was really important for us to try to get the next one but we just couldn't do it."
Sting forward Daniel Nikandrov scored the Sting's second shorthanded goal of the game late in the third, while the Steelheads added a goal in the game's dying seconds to finish the scoring.
Bryson Cianfrone was the scoring star for Mississauga, with two goals and two assists. One of those assists came on the tying goal in the second, scored by Sarnia native Nick Zottl.
Sarnia, which is now tied for ninth in the Western Conference standings -- five points behind Plymouth for the eighth, and final playoff spot -- takes to the road next weekend, with games in Ottawa, Belleville and Kingston.
"We're grinding right now, but we can't feel sorry for ourselves," said Letowski. "We have to keep pushing."