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Sting close out perfect weekend with victory over Knights
andrew brethauer October 16th, 2011

Sarnia, ON Jacques Beaulieu's first regular season game against his former club was a successful one, as the Sarnia Sting come from behind for the second time in two nights to defeat the London Knights 4-3.

It was Sarnia's third win of the weekend, after a 7-2 victory over Saginaw on Friday, and a 5-4 overtime victory over Plymouth. But more important, the Sting have won seven straight games, and have got a point or more in their last eight games.

"It was a great game. Playoff atmosphere in October," said Beaulieu. "A little chess match with them following Nail around so we had to be sharp."

 The Knights kept Nail Yakupov off the score sheet through the first period, capitalizing on a powerplay to open the scoring, as Colin Martin beat Brandon Maxwell to open the scoring. Sarnia came out slow to start, perhaps due to three games in three days, but they picked up the tempo late in the first, carrying it over into the second.

Sarnia only need 54 seconds into the second period to tie things up, as Craig Hottot got his fourth of the season off an Alex Basso shot from the point that went off the end boards right onto Hottot's stick for the backhand goal.

The goal seemed to spark Sarnia, as the Sting became the leaders in the chess match, after falling behind in the first. Basso would get in on a second goal, this time on the powerplay, as his shot from the point is again tipped in front by Reid Boucher, with Charlie Sarault finishing it off for Sarnia's first lead of the game, as Sarnia took a 2-1 lead into the third period.

The third period saw both teams playing playoff caliber hockey, as the top two teams in the Western Conference looked to move ahead into first place. And it would be the Knights who would strike first, as Max Domi put a shot on net that got through the pads Maxwell and found the back of the net to tie the game at 2-2.

Just over a minute later on a similar play, Maxwell again couldn't handle the puck, and Bo Horvat is there to bang in the puck in the crease, as London retakes the lead 3-2.

But London's system would start to break down as the Knights found themselves a man down through most of the second half of the third. And after shadowing Yakupov all game, the Russian finally found an opening, and blasted a cross ice pass from Reid Boucher into the top of the net for another tie game, 3-3.

Penalties would be the undoing of London, as another powerplay would result in the Sting's third powerplay goal. Yakupov would have plenty of time behind the net, and find Boucher coming in on the side who managed to get one through a small space high and under the crossbar for 4-3 Sarnia lead.

Despite pulling their goalie, London would not find the back of the net and penalty ended their chances, as the Sting claim their third of the week with the 4-3 win.

Alex Basso had a four point game, assisting on all four goals, including the three powerplay goals.

"There is a lot of talent out there and it makes my job a lot easier," said Basso. "We obviously had a couple of break downs on their goals, but our powerplay and penalty kill was good. I think if we keep going like this we will be a successful team."

Beaulieu expected this kind of game from his former team, a defensive chess match that would be won on special teams. Sarnia has managed to keep their penalties minutes to a minimum, being one of the least penalized teams in the league, and having the third best powerplay.

"We don't take many penalties because we are a puck possession team," said Beaulieu. "That is why the Red Wings don't take many penalties. We try and do a lot of stuff they do and keep the puck on our stick, and when we have the puck on our stick we're not defending it."

Sarnia is now 8-1-1 through the first ten games of the season, and is in first place in the Western Conference. Beaulieu is happy with the way the team has been progressing over the last ten games. But with 58 games still to play, Beaulieu still sees it as a process.

"We got a long ways to go yet," said Beaulieu. "We are happy the way we are progressing, [the Sting] are showing character, they are showing cohesion."

Sarnia is home on Thursday against the Sault. Ste. Marie Greyhounds before heading to Kitchener on Friday and returning home to face Belleville on Saturday.




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