By DAVE BORODY
For the third consecutive game, the Sarnia Sting came up just a little short.
This time it was against the Owen Sound Attack as the Sting dropped a 4-3 decision, Friday night in front of 3, 291 fans at the RBC Centre.
It was the final home game for the Sting in the Ontario Hockey League. They conclude the regular season Saturday night in Owen Sound.
With three straight losses, the Sting has failed to move up in the standings. They remain in seventh place, one point back of Sault Ste. Marie. The Greyhounds have two home games left with Kitchener and London.
Unless the Sting get at least one point in Owen Sound it looks as though the Sting will meet the Plymouth Whalers in round one of the playoffs.
Sarnia got off to a great start against the Attack taking a 2-0 lead after one period. But Owen Sound stormed back in period two to tie the game at 3-3 after 40 minutes. The Attack scored what proved to be the winning goal two minutes into period three.
“It was a good game,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “They play a rugged style, but our kids responded to the physical play. We needed to generate more scoring chances. They came hard at us after we got the 2-0 lead. We had a great chance to make it 3-0 and didn’t. To me that was the difference in the game.”
He added, “We were zero-for-three on the power play, even though we had some chances. They scored two power play goals.”
Beaulieu says losing three straight at home this late in the season isn’t a big thing.
“I look at how we are playing. We’ve lost all three by one goal and kids are working hard. I don’t worry about stuff like that.”
Davis Brown got the Sting off to a quick start of 2:35 of period one when his sharp angle wrist shot got past Attack goalie Brandon Hope. It was Brown’s sixth goal of the year.
Sarnia made it 2-0 at 17:30 when Latta knocked in a goalmouth pass from Daniel Nikandrov for his 16th goal of the season. Nikolay Goldobin also assisted.
But the Attack comeback started at 9:23 of period two on the power play when Artur Gavrus scored from close range. Steven Janes tied the game at 13:40 banging home a goalmouth pass while Brayden Rose put Owen Sound ahead for the first time knocking in a rebound on a power play with a minute left.
But with 8.5 seconds left in the period Bryan Moore tied the game for Sarnia on a wrist drive, his 11th of the year. Charlie Sarault and Reid Boucher notched assists.
Owen Sound scored what turned out to be the game winner two minutes into period three when Gavrus poked home a loose puck during a scramble around the Sting net.
Sarnia pulled their goalie with a minute and had one glorious scoring chance with three seconds left, but Sarault was stopped point blank by Hope after a pass out.
Owen Sound held a 31-26 edge in shots on goal with Hope the winning goalie while J.P. Anderson took the loss.
“We came out pretty strong, but struggled in the second and third periods,” said Moore. “I think they seemed to want it more than we did. They came out with a lot of energy in the second period and got more shots on goal.”
He added, “It’s upsetting to let our fans down losing three in a row at home. We have to learn from it and move on.”
Sting playoff tickets will be on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 of going online at Sarniasting.com
Gavrus was first star with Moore second star and Chris Bigras (two assists) of the Attack third star. Forward Alex Carnevale of the Sting was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game.
There were several special events at the game. The Sting land parents were honoured; overagers Charlie Sarault and J.P. Anderson had their sweaters presented to them while Reid Boucher won an award for winning the three-star selection over the course of the season.
Sarnia’s home record for the season finished at 17-14-1-2.
Sarnia and Owen Sound has played three times this season and all three games have been decided by a goal.
Sarault picked up just the one assist and now has a three-point lead over Plymouth’s Vincent Trocheck in the race for top scorer in the league. Trocheck has a home and home series left with Windsor.
Goldobin also had one assist and is now four points ahead of Erie’s Connor McDavid for the rookie scoring title. McDavid has one game left against Guelph.