PHOTOS BY PAT BRETHAUER
STORY BY DAVE PAUL
In a battle of struggling teams, the Sting ended up on the wrong end of a 7-5 score against the Barrie Colts in a wild, wide-open OHL game at RBC Centre. Friday night.
Early on, it looked like it might be a very long night for the home team as Sarnia fell behind 3-0 in the first period. But, as they have done with more and more frequency lately, the Sting showed some resilience and battled back, scoring three straight times to tie the game 3-3, early in the second period.
However, Barrie responded with two goals after that to take a lead they would not surrender. Sting coach Trevor Letowski replaced goalie Brodie Barrick with Taylor Dupuis after Barrie's fifth goal. The two teams traded goals the rest of the way with Barrie icing the game on an Andreas Athanasiou (one of seven different Barrie goalscorers) empty netter.
It was a big night for Sarnia's top line of Nick Latta (three goals, one assist), Nikolay Goldobin (one goal, three assists) and Bryan Moore (one goal, two assists). But Letowksi kept Moore on the bench for the entire third period after the volatile winger took a bad penalty in front of the Barrie net during a two-man Sting advantage in the second.
After the contest, the generally mild-mannered Letowski showed a little frustration when he talked about his team's lack of discipline in the second period.
"I let them know about it during the second intermission," said Letowski. "After we got down in the first period, we showed some 'push back', and that was really positive." But after the team fell behind in the second period, they hurt themselves some bad penalties.
"We're not a team that can afford to be taking undisciplined penalties. ... It's unacceptable," said Letowksi.
On the positive side, Letowski had praise for the tireless work ethic of defenceman Josh Chapman and, even more so, for the play of winger Latta -- whose 11 goals place him in a tie for sixth place in the OHL.
"It didn't happen overnight," for Latta, said Letowski. "It's been a slow and steady process for him ... but he has now established himself as an important player in this league.
"He's a great example of how a player can develop in this league, if they stick to it and work hard," added the coach.
Following his first OHL hat trick, Latta said he couldn't really relish the accomplishment because of the loss.
"It's tough to lose any game," said Latta, "but it's especially tough when you score five goals at home -- you should never lose a game when that happens."
The German-born overager admitted his adjustment to the OHL has taken longer than he would have liked.
"My first two years were pretty tough," he said. "Last year, I felt like I started to finally get my feet under me. ... I really started feeling more confident."
While he is no longer eligible to play for his homeland at the junior level, Latta said he hopes to represent Germany at future World Championships and possibly the Olympics.
But, he added, while playing professionally in Germany might some day be an option, "my plan from Day One was to play in North America. That's why I came here. My goal is to play in the NHL some day."
And, while he has taken giant steps toward playing professionally in North America, Latta added he isn't going to assume anything at this point.
"We've only played, what 13-14 games? ... That doesn't mean anything," he said. "I have to keep it going for a whole season ... and hopefully help this team win a lot of games at the same time."
Coming into Friday's game, both Barrie and Sarnia had the second fewest points in their respective conferences. However, Barrie had won two straight games and extended that streak to three with Friday's win. The Sting, meanwhile had won three of their past five, but Friday's loss gives them a two-game losing streak.
Barrie outshot Sarnia 35 - 34.
The Sting visit Plymouth on Saturday. Game time is at 7:05.