Sarnia Sting Down Knights in Shoot Out friday march 8, 2013
By DAVE BORODY
If you don’t believe the Sarnia Sting are inside the heads of the London Knights, you needed to be at the RBC Centre Friday night.
The Sting rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Knights 4-3 in shootout in front of a near capacity crowd of 4,624 boisterous fans and a national television audience on Sportsnet.
It marked the fourth straight game the Sting has taken the top team in the Ontario Hockey League to extra time. Sarnia has won two overtime games while each team has won in a shootout.
A week ago in London the Sting enjoyed a two-goal lead with four minutes remaining only to see the Knights rally and eventually win in a shootout.
This time around London broke a 1-1 tie with two third period goals to take a 3-1 lead with just under four minutes left to go.
But the Sting fought back with a pair of goals at 18:04 and 18:45 to send the game to overtime.
The five-minute extra session proved nothing before Nikolay Goldobin and Charlie Sarault scored in the shootout while Sting goalie J.P. Anderson stopped both London shooters.
The win was important for Sarnia as they are now tied with Sault Ste. Marie for sixth place in the Western Conference. Each team has four games remaining.
“It seemed we came out in the third period and were playing for a tie,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “But once we got our second goal, we were getting shots and we ended up with some timely scoring. J.P. Anderson made some big saves.”
When asked why the Sting plays London so tight, Beaulieu said, “We play the same way. They execute a little better because they have 50 (47) wins. It’s a great rivalry and we play some great junior games.”
He added, “A win like this at this point of the season is good for us. We are trying to secure sixth place. We know if we want to get sixth we have to beat some good teams down the stretch and London is one of them.”
The excitement of two points was tempered by the fact Sting defenceman Craig Duininck took a shot in the face in the first period. He did not return and went to the hospital.
“It’s unfortunate when he blocked the shot like that. We heard the x-rays were negative and doesn’t have a broken jaw, but they were still going to do some more tests. I’m sure it’s pretty sore and he did take a lot of stitches.”
Duininck actually tweeted when at the hospital and told his buddies to finish them off.
The loss of Duininck meant the Sting played with just five defencemen as Anthony DeAngelo was serving the first of a two game suspension.
“Alex Basso was probably the best player on the ice,” said Beaulieu. “He took up the role back there and did a great job.”
Sarnia scored the only goal of period one with 38.3 seconds remaining when Nick Latta notched his 15th of the season.
Latta came in on a two-on-one break. He elected to backhand a shot at Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz. The big netminder made the initial save, but he then accidentally knocked the puck over the goal line.
London tied the game midway through period two on a power play when Olli Maatta knocked in a rebound.
The score remained tied until 12:27 of period three when Josh Anderson put London ahead as he backhanded a shot into the top corner from close range.
Anderson increased London’s lead to 3-1 at 16:06 when he snapped home a centering pass.
But Sarnia refused to quit. Reid Boucher cut the lead to 3-2 at 18:04 when he notched his 60th goal of the season.
“This one was for real,” joked Boucher, who was credited with his 60th last week in Saginaw, but admitted he did not touch the puck. The OHL finally took the goal away on Thursday.
He described number 60.
“I fanned on a one-timer and then I was kind of falling down. The puck was still there and managed to put it in the net. It gave us a little momentum and got the big crowd back in the game.”
Sarnia tied the game at 18:45 on another weird one. Daniel Nikandrov took a shot from the slot and stopped by Stolarz. But the puck went into the air, came down, hit a Knights defenceman and trickled over the line.
The play needed video review before it was allowed to stand.
London had the better chances in overtime, including enjoying a power play for a minute and a half, but was unable to beat Anderson.
That set the stage for the shootout.
Boucher hit the post on Sarnia’s first shot while Bo Horvat of London shot wide.
Nikolay Goldobin cashed in on the Sting’s second shot as he out waited the Knights goalie and after a nice deke, slipped home a backhand.
After Anderson stopped London’s Max Domi, captain Charlie Sarault ended it for the Sting as he also used a backhand to beat Stolarz.
London finished with a 37-25 edge in shots on goal. Sarnia was zero-for-three with the man advantage and London one-for-two.
Sarnia has four games remaining. They will be home Sunday at 2 p.m. to the Guelph Storm. Sarnia hosts Saginaw next Thursday and concludes their home schedule next Friday against Owen Sound. They finish off their schedule a week Saturday in Owen Sound.
Tickets for all remaining home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com (Kids tickets for Sunday are just $5).
J.P. Anderson was first star with Anderson of London second star and Nikandrov third star. Defenceman Tyler Hore was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game.
The Sting had defenceman Taki Pantziris back in the lineup after missing nearly two months with a knee injury. Pantziris played more than he figured after Duininck went down in the first period.
Sarault finished with one assists giving him 103 points. He holds a three-point lead over both Nick Cousins of Sault Ste. Marie and Vincent Trocheck of Plymouth for the OHL scoring lead.
Goldobin assisted on the Latta’s goal and now leads all OHL rookies in scoring with 61 points.
Sarnia’s home record improved to 17-12-0-2.