Sting Lost Big lead, Then come Back to Win in Home Finale
friday march 14, 2014
By DAVE PAUL / Video by DAN PAUL / Photos by PAT BRETHAUER
The Sarnia Sting ended the home portion of their 2013-14 season in memorable fashion, Thursday night at RBC Centre, pulling out a 7-6, overtime shootout win against the Kitchener Rangers.
It was a game the Sting looked to have won early -- in fact it looked like it was going to be a laugher.
Sarnia was all over the Rangers in the first period, storming out to a 4-0 lead.
But Kitchener turned the tables in the second, outscoring Sarnia 5-1, and the game was tied 5-5 after 40 minutes.
The Rangers took a 6-5 lead in the third, but the Sting came back to tie the game, and, after a scoreless OT, Sarnia won it in the shootout, with captain Nick Latta scoring the shootout winner.
Sarnia's Nikita Korostelev had a huge game, scoring twice, adding two assists, and even engaging in a fight with fellow Russian-born player Dmitri Sergeev.
Before the game, the Sting paid tribute to Sarnia's Shawn Burr -- a former NHLer and one-time part-owner of the Sting -- who died last year, by raising a banner in his honour in the RBC Centre.
There was also a moment of silence for Terry Trafford, the Saginaw Spirit player who was found dead, of suicide, on Tuesday.
Following the game, Sting captain Nick Latta revealed that he will be finishing out the season with the Hartford Wolf Pack, the AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers.
But first, the Sting have two more games to play to conclude the OHL schedule. And they are both on the road, against the top two teams in the league. Sarnia visits Guelph on Friday and Erie on Saturday.
Though the shots advantage was only 13-11 for Sarnia, the Sting owned the first period. Sarnia goalie Taylor Dupuis was called upon to make a couple of good saves, but the Sting were relentless on offence, racking up a 4-0 lead on goals by Kevin Spinozzi, Matteo Ciccarelli, Nikolay Goldobin and Nikita Korostelev -- all within a seven-and a-half minute span, in the middle of the period.
Kitchener came right at the Sting in the second. They opened the middle period scoring at 4:21, but the Sting quickly regained the four-goal lead on Goldobin's second of the game. However, the Rangers closed out the period with four consecutive goals on the shell-shocked Sting. Several of the goals came on near-perfect shots, in close, into the top corners of the net, behind Dupuis. Kitchener outshot the Sting 17-9 in the period. Defenceman Logan Schmidt had three assists in the period to lead the Rangers attack.
Nick Magyar's second goal of the game gave Kitchener the lead, for the first time in the game, 6-5, at 4:08. But the Sting were able to avert disaster -- in large part due to Korostelev, who almost took charge of the game at this point. First in engaged Dmitri Sergeev in a fight, which he won handily. Then, less than two minutes after he left the penalty box, Korostelev scored the tying goal, from Goldobin.
The Sting had an enormous chance to win the game in overtime as Kitchener was assessed a penalty with one second left in the third period, then another just 22 seconds into OT. But Sarnia couldn't beat Kitchener goalie Jordan DeKort. Sarnia outshot Kitchener 8-0 in the five minute overtime period.
In the shootout, the Sting surrender the first goal, but the Sting's third shooter, Noah Bushnell beat DeKort to keep Sarnia alive and, one shooter later, Latta won the game for Sarnia.
Sting coach Trevor Letowski said:
"It's never easy."
"I said during the (first) intermission, we're just not used to having a lead like that so early in the game. It was unchartered territory for us and we obviously didn't handle it very well.
"We never should have been in that situation (trailing in the third period), but for us to stay in the fight … it's good resilience again for us.
"What Korostelev was able to do late in the game is pretty impressive for a young player," continued Letowski. "A fight like that -- I didn't see that coming -- and he changed the game.
"He comes out (of the penalty box) and scores a goal … that's the type of guy you win with and that's exciting for our organization."
Sting captain Nick Latta said:
"Obviously it's not good to blow a lead like that … we should have played way smarter than we did.
"But you gotta give the guys credit, we battled hard and I'm glad we got the two points in the end."