By DAVE BORODY
SAGINAW, Mich. – History was made by the Sarnia Sting at the Dow Event Centre on Saturday night.
Reid Boucher scored three goals in leading the Sting to an 8-7 victory over the Saginaw Spirit in front of a capacity crowd of 5,632 fans.
The three goals gives Boucher 60 on the season and breaks the team record of 58 goals for one season, previously held by Steven Stamkos, now a National Hockey League star with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Ironically all three of Boucher’s goals came in the second period.
His 58th goal came 8:46 on the power play when he took a pass in the slot from Charlie Sarault and snapped a wrist shot into the top corner on the glove side.
The record-breaking 59th goal came at 15:18 on a breakaway. Boucher, a fifth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils made no mistake as he fired the puck top shelf on the blocker side with goalie Jake Paterson having no chance.
Goal number 60 happened with just 7.1 seconds left in the period after a scramble in front of the Spirit goal. The goal was first credited to Bryan Moore, but later changed to Boucher. (After the game Boucher said he did not touch the puck, so the goal could be changed). file photo
Boucher is the only player in the entire Canadian Hockey League to hit the 60-goal mark this season. Boucher had not scored in his previous two games.
“I’m relieved more than anything else,” said Boucher after the game. “I’ve been getting a lot of heat lately for not scoring in the last two games. I’m pretty happy.”
He added, “Scoring the record-breaking goal on a breakaway was pretty cool. I’m probably going to have a couple of bumps and bruises because I fell down after the puck went in.”
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu says he’s happy for Boucher.
“It’s great to see him achieve what he did tonight. What did it take, five or six years to break Stamkos’ record? It could take 10 years to break the new record. This is a credit to Reid. He worked hard over the summer, shed 20 pounds and got stronger. His hard work has paid off.”
Asked if this will help in getting a contract with the Devils, Boucher said, “I hope so. But I don’t have any control over that.” (Two New Jersey scouts were at the game).
Boucher’s linemate Charlie Sarault chipped in with two assists to pad his Ontario Hockey League scoring lead to 102 points, four ahead of Nick Cousins of Sault Ste. Marie.
Sarault is close to signing a free-agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks.
The game was a wild affair.
The teams were tied 2-2 after the first period before the teams exploded nine goals in the second period with Sarnia scoring six of them. At one point Sarnia trailed 5-3 before the Sting scored five consecutive goals to take an 8-5 lead after 40 minutes.
Saginaw scored the only two goals of period three at 9:03 and 15:11 to make it close.
“It wasn’t pretty, but it’s two points,” said Beaulieu. “I was more upset with what happened in the third period during the fight with (Jordan) Adessi. It was not handled properly by the officials and then we lose Anthony (DeAngelo) for third man in.”
Knick Dawe got the win in goal for the Sting as he faced 45 shots. Two Saginaw goalies faced 21 shots. Sarnia’s six goals in the second period came on only nine shots.
Lost in the history-setting performance by Boucher was the fact rookie Mike DiPaolo of the Sting scored his first career OHL goal in the opening period knocking in a pass out from Alex Renaud.
“It feels pretty awesome, sweet,” said DiPaolo, who returned to the lineup Friday night in London after missing several games with a back injury. “I’m happy to be back and tonight we were rolling four lines and I got lots of ice time.”
DiPaolo also won a fight in the second period and was an assist short of the patented Gordie Howe hat trick.
“Some of the guys mentioned after the second period they would try and help me get an assist. That would have been neat.”
Other Sting scorers included Nikolay Goldobin (27th), Craig Duininck (8th), Daniel Nikandrov (6th) and Alex Carnevale (3rd).
Scoring for Saginaw were Jimmy Lodge with two and singles to Garret Ross, Terry Trafford, Zack Bratina, Brandon Linberg and Gregg Sutch.
The win improved Sarnia’s overall record to 34-25-0-4. They moved into a sixth place tied with Sault Ste Marie, each team having 70 points. The Greyhounds has two games in hand.
The Sting is now eight points up on eighth place Saginaw with the Spirit having two games in hand..
The Sting has five games remaining in the regular season with the next four all at the RBC Centre.
It begins Friday when Sarnia hosts the London Knights at 7:05 p.m. The game will be televised on CTV Sportsnet. The Sting will be home Sunday afternoon to the Guelph Storm beginning at 2:05 p.m.
A week Thursday (March 14th), the Sting host Saginaw and a week Friday (March 15th) take on Owen Sound before concluding the regular schedule March 16th at Owen Sound.
Tickets for the four remaining home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Boucher was first star with Lodge of Saginaw second star and Eric Locke of Saginaw third star. Boucher leads the team with 10 game winning goals.
Sarnia will lose two players with suspensions after a third period incident. Anthony DeAngelo was deemed third man in a fight that involved team-mate Jordan Addesi. Then after the fight, Addesi was handed a pair of game misconducts after he got tangled up with a linesman near the penalty box.
Scratches for the Sting included goalie J.P. Anderson and defenceman Taki Pantziris. Brodie Barrick served as the backup goalie to Dawe. It was the first time Dawe has been dressed since breaking an ankle almost two months ago.
Sarnia has won three of five games between the two teams with one game remaining.
The win assured the Sting they will have a winning record on the road this season at 18-13-0-2.