By DAVE BORODY
PLYMOUTH, Michigan – Another last-minute goal did in the Sarnia Sting on Saturday night.
The Plymouth Whalers scored with 46.5 seconds left in regulation time to eke out a 5-4 victory in front of 2,225 fans at the Compuware Sports Arena.
The goal came after the Sting had battled back from a 4-2 deficit after 40 minutes to tie the game early in the third period.
It marked the fourth time this season the Sting has lost a game in the final minute.
Sting head coach Trevor Letowski said there were a lot of positives from his team’s performance.
“When we got down by two goals after two periods, we could have easily given up, but showed a lot of fight to battle back in the third period like that. I was proud of the effort of our team. The ending leaves you sick to your stomach.”
He added, “We were missing bodies again and playing on the road. To come out of this with no points is frustrating for sure.”
The loss was Sarnia’s third straight in the Ontario Hockey League.
“We are grinding right now. We are working hard, but when you come up short like we did tonight is tough on everyone,” said Letowski.
Despite being outshot 14-6 in the opening period, Sarnia scored the lone goal at 10:58 on the power play.
Nick Latta continued his outstanding play when he drilled a slapshot over the shoulder of Whalers goalie Alex Nedelkovic. It was Latta’s 12th goal of the year.
Plymouth tied the game just 16 seconds into the second frame when Carter Sandlak took advantage of a Sting turnover to beat goalie Taylor Dupuis. (Sandlak is the son of ex-Sting assistant coach, Jim Sandlak. He was traded to Belleville from Plymouth during the off-season).
Sarnia took a 2-1 lead at 14:04 with their second power play goal. Bryan Moore notched his sixth goal of the year when he banged home a goalmouth pass from Nikolay Goldobin. Anthony DeAngelo picked up his second assist of the night.
But the final three minutes of the period proved disastrous for the Sting.
The Whalers squared matters at 2-2 at 17:10 when Francesco Vilardi capitalized on another Sting turnover to score from close range.
Plymouth took their first lead of the game with 54.1 seconds remaining when Connor Sills knocked in a centering pass.
The Whalers increased their lead 18 seconds later when Ryan Hartman backhanded home a loose puck.
The Sting came out determined to start period three and it resulted in two quick goals to tie the game.
Davis Brown recorded his second goal of the year at 1:11 when he snapped a quick wrist drive over the goalie from the left side.
Sarnia tied the game at 5:34 when Goldobin finished off a two-on-one break with Moore. For Goldobin it was his ninth goal and third point of the game.
Both teams had scoring chances as the third period wound down.
With 46,5 seconds left to go, Zach Lorentz of the Whalers was left alone in front of the Sting goal and he backhanded a low shot past Dupuis for the game-winner.
Letowski commented on the goal.
“There was a breakdown obviously. We got a little too aggressive in the offensive zone. Our defence jumped into the play and really didn’t need to.”
Sarnia had two face-offs in the Plymouth zone after that, but did not get a clear scoring chance.
Plymouth held 46-33 edge in shots on goal although Sarnia outshot the Whalers 16-15 in the final period.
Sarnia finished 2-7 on the power play while Plymouth was zero-for-four.
The loss dropped Sarnia’s record to 4-10-0-1.
The Sting returns home next weekend for a pair of games at the RBC Centre. They host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Friday night and the Sudbury Wolves Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for these two games and all remaining home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Sarnia played one player short of the 20-player limit as forward Nick Sproviero was up from the Lambton Shores junior B team. Not dressed were Tyler Hore, serving the second of a three-game suspension, along with forwards Daniel Nikandrov and Nikita Korostelev, both out with injuries. Forwards Brett Hargrave and Jordan Addesi are at home awaiting a trade.
Hartman was the game’s first star with Goldobin second star and Lorentz third star.
DeAngelo had two assists and leads the team in scoring with six goals and 15 assists for 21 points. Goldobin is next with 20 points and Latta follows with 19 points.
Latta has now scored at least one goal in five straight games. Moore has at least one assist in seven consecutive games.
Sarnia’s road record is now 2-4-0-0.
Two ex-Sting players are playing with the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior League. Defenceman Mike DiPaolo took part in his first game Saturday night while forward Jack Nevins has been with the team all season and leads the team in scoring.