Sting Earn Point to Clinch Playoff Spot Friday march 1, 2013
By DAVE BORODY
LONDON – The Sarnia Sting gave the London Knights all they could handle and then some Friday night. Unfortunately the Sting could only return home with one point instead of two.
The Knights rallied with two goals late in the third period and went on to edge the Sting 4-3 in a shootout in front of 9,046 fans at the Budweiser Gardens.
But the one point for the shootout loss ensures the Sting will again be in post-season play in the Ontario Hockey League.
“That was a great junior hockey game,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “It was well-executed by both teams. We all know no lead is safe in junior hockey, especially in this building. I’m happy with the way the kids played and we were able to clinch a playoff spot.”
For the third time this season the Sting has come into London and taken the Knights past regulation time. In the two previous outings, Sarnia won the games in overtime.
It looked for a while the Sting would not even need overtime to come out on top in this game.
The Sting opened the scoring at 2:33 of period one when Bryan Moore re-directed home a pass from Reid Boucher. Charlie Sarault also assisted on Moore’s ninth goal of the season.
London tied the game at 12:47 on the second of four consecutive power plays when Olli Matta backhanded home a shot from the slot into the top corner of the net.
Sarnia would regain the lead with 47 seconds left in the period on a shorthanded breakaway by Sarault. The Sting captain slipped the puck between the legs of Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz.
The Sting scored the only goal of period two on a power play and 12:02 when Sarault poked home a loose puck after a wild scramble in front of the Knights goal. Sarault’s second goal of the game was his 22nd of the season as he hit the 100-point plateau for the season.
Boucher recorded his third assist of the game while Nikolay Goldobin also picked up an assist.
The score remained 3-1 until 16:22 of period three with Nikita Zadorov pulled the Knights to within one as he snapped a wrist shot between the legs of Sting goalie J.P. Anderson from the face-off circle.
London pulled their goalie with over a minute to play and tied the game with 28.4 seconds left when Max Domi knocked in a loose puck from close range.
Each team had two shots in the five-minute overtime session, but it was a shot that missed the net by Anthony DeAngelo that was the best scoring chance. DeAngelo tipped a goalmouth pass from Alex Basso just wide of the open corner.
In the shootout, London scored twice in four tries with Alex Broadhurst scoring the winner while Goldobin was the lone Sting scorer in four attempts.
London held a 48-27 edge in shots on goal, including 18-6 in the third period. Anderson was outstanding in goal for the Sting and was named the game’s first star.
Beaulieu says the 100 points on the season by Sarault is special.
“First I was shocked Charlie was not a star. I know Max Domi was good for them, but Charlie had a three-point game and that’s a tough thing to do in this building.”
Beaulieu says clinching a playoff spot is important.
“Especially with what we had to go through in the second half of the season losing Alex Galchenyuk and Connor Murphy. It’s been a bumpy road since Christmas, but I’m proud of the way we’ve played. It’s going to be tough in the playoffs, but we are going to be there.”
As for playing the Knights so tough this season in their building, Beaulieu said, “The kids get up to play in London. Both our systems are similar. I was brought up in this organization and I’m trying to play the same way and do what’s right and play good hockey.”
Sarault leads the OHL in scoring with 100 points. Nick Cousins of Sault Ste. Marie is second with 98 and Vincent Trocheck of Plymouth charging hard with 97. Boucher is fifth with 88 points.
“I didn’t try and set a goal of 100 points this season,” said Sarault. “I just wanted to improve on last season when I had 87. It would have been even nicer if we had won tonight. We had a couple of lapses defensively and that hurt.”
He added, “When you come to London, you have to be ready to play. There’s a great atmosphere with a lot of fans. There’s a lot to prove when you come in here.”
Sarnia finished one for three with the man advantage and London one for five.
The Sting remains on the road Saturday night when they travel to Saginaw to battle the Spirit. Sarnia holds a six-point lead over the Spirit for seventh place. The Sting has six games remaining and Saginaw eight.
Sarnia is now just two points back of sixth place Sault Ste. Marie with the Greyhounds having seven games left.
The next home game for the Sting is next Friday when they host the Knights beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It will be the first of four straight home games.
Anderson was first star with Domi second star and Matta third star.
Sarnia’s overall record is now 33-25-0-4 and 17-13-0-2 on the road.
Three ex-Sting players received awards from the OUA men’s hockey program this week. Steven Reese of the Western Mustangs was named the most sportsmanlike player in the West Division.
Reese who played for the Sting from 2006-2009 had eight goals and 31 assists and just 18 penalty minutes. He was also named a second team all-star.
Former Sting Steve Ferry of the Windsor Lancers was named the top defenceman in the West Division. He had eight goals and 16 assists, second most for any defenceman this year. Ferry played for the Sting between 2005 and 2009. He was also named to the first all-star team.
Goalie Dan Spence was named the top goalie in the East Division. Spence played for Nipissing this past season. He played for the Sting during the 2008-09 season.