Late Goal Lifts Erie Past Sting Friday February 28, 2014
By DAVE PAUL
It's hard to know what to make of the Sarnia Sting's 4-3 loss to Erie, Friday night at RBC Centre.
On one hand, giving up the game-winning goal with 38 seconds to play in the third period is a heartbreaking way to end a hockey game.
But, on the other hand, the Sting held their own against one of the OHL powerhouses (albeit, a bit of a struggling one -- Erie was 5-5-0-0 in its last 10 games), even rallying from a 3-1 deficit to score twice in the third period to knot the game up.
Sarnia even had a fantastic opportunity to take the lead, and possibly pull off the upset, as the Sting had a two-man advantage for nearly a minute in the latter stages of the third.
While the Sting came up empty-handed, the team gave its fans their money's worth in this very exciting contest.
With the loss the Sting is officially eliminated from playoffs.
Sarnia played an outstanding opening 20 minutes, holding their own, territorially, against Erie and scoring the only goal of the period when captain Nick Latta deflected home his 34th goal of the season, on a power play at 15:49.
All Otters. After being narrowly outshot, 12-11, in the first period, the Sting were dominated in the middle period, with Erie holding a 19-3 advantage in shots on goal. Not surprisingly, the Otters dominated on the scoreboard too, scoring three times to take a 3-1 lead. Dane Fox, with his 57th of the year, phenom Connor McDavid, with his 21st and Travis Wood scored for Erie.
Hayden Hodgson and Vladislav Kodola each scored pretty goals for the Sting in the first six minutes of the third period, to tie the game. Sarnia failed to take advantage of a couple of Erie penalties -- including a two-man advantage that lasted almost a minute -- and, as the period wore on, the Otters started getting better opportunities to score. Fox, with his 58th of the year (set up impressively by fellow stars McDavid and Connor Brown) finally broke the tie with 38 seconds on the clock.
Erie outshot the Sting 14-7 in the third and 45-21 overall. Taylor Dupuis, in the Sting net, actually outshone Erie's star goalie, Oscar Dansk in this one.
The Sting host Peterborough on Saturday at 7 p.m.
Coach Trevor Letowski said:
"It's a little tough to take, (losing) right at the end like that, but when you evaluate it there's a lot of positives come out of that game.
"That's a real good hockey team over there -- I know they've struggled a little bit lately -- but they've had some rest and we knew they were desperate to play well and to play hard," continued Letowski.
"We fought back, we were resilient," he added. "They made a great offensive play at the end. Some of the ones we've given up late in games, it's been real tough because there's been breakdowns. But that one was just a real nice goal.”
"We haven't won games but we've strung together (several good games). Since the London losses, every game, in my opinion, has been good sound hockey. It's encouraging … we finally kind of turned the corner. And it's good to see our effort is still there … which is also encouraging for us as a coaching staff."
Letowski, contrasting the first and second periods:
"I was very happy with first period. I thought it was one of the best periods we've played. In the second … sometimes when we give up a couple of goals we go back to our bad habits and we start to get a little loose and push a little bit and cheat to offence. … Our message has been, at high levels of hockey you just can't do that. We're just not good enough to be able to play like that we need everyone to buy in (to the teams more disciplined system)."