By DAVE PAUL
Video by DAN PAUL
With a large holiday crowd of 4,059 in attendance, the Sarnia Sting put up a fight, but ultimately dropped their 10th consecutive game, 3-1, to the Saginaw Spirit, Monday afternoon at RBC Centre.
Facing a team they had beaten more than any other this season (four times), the Sting took a 1-0 first period lead, but gave up a pair of goals in the second and had trouble generating many offensive chances throughout the game.
Justin Fazio (who has spent the bulk of the year tending goal for the Jr. B Lambton Shores Predators) made the first start of his OHL career (he had previously played one period of hockey for the Sting, earlier this season). Fazio looked very good, in stopping 32 of 35 Saginaw shots.
Despite being outshot 15-9, it was a fairly evenly-played period -- and the best full 20-minute stanza the Sting have played in quite a while. Hayden Hodgson gave the Sting a 1-0 lead which they would hold at the end of 20 minutes.
The balance started to shift, with Saginaw carrying the play to the Sting. They were rewarded with a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead over the home team. The Spirit outshot the Sting 11-6 in the middle 20 minutes.
After a bit of a tentative start, the Sting started to press for the tying goal. Davis Brown was stopped by Saginaw's Jake Paterson on a breakaway, then Hodgson hit the post. Then, just past the halfway point of the period, Sarnia's Josh Chapman took a (non-blatant) slashing penalty in the Saginaw zone. The Spirit scored on the ensuing power play and held on the rest of the way for the 3-1 decision. Saginaw outshot Sarnia 9-7 in the third and 35-22 overall.
View Game Highlights http://youtu.be/iKdirBg68wk
"We had good energy," said Sting coach Trevor Letowski. "I thought we played a pretty sound game," he said, adding the team made the decision to play more conservatively. "We weren't as aggressive on the forecheck and our defencemen weren't pinching.
"We gave ourselves a chance," he added. "I think we're on the right track with the effort today. If we play like that (during the remainder of the schedule), we are going to have a chance to win some games."
On Fazio: "He's an important prospect for us," said Letowski. "We thought if we could spot him in a few starts, near the end of the season, it would be beneficial for his future. … I thought he played well. … He doesn't seem to get fazed by anything. … He made some big saves early and he gave us a chance to win." Letowski added Fazio would get "at least one more start," for the Sting, before the season ends.
On rumours he might be among a group of former Sting players interested in purchasing the team: "It's not true, I can squash that right now," said Letowski. "I've had no discussions about buying a hockey team and I have no intention of doing it."
View Interview with Trevor Letowski http://youtu.be/WHkuBjO2Q3Q
Fazio: "I was really nervous, I gotta admit," said the rookie goalie. "I got a little calmer by the third period, my nerves started to settle. … I thought (the performance) was not bad, decent. … The building was packed, it felt great. It was a great atmosphere."
View Interview with Justin Fazio http://youtu.be/oHhZQW7-azc
Sarnia plays a pair of home games this weekend, hosting Plymouth on Friday and Ottawa on Saturday