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Sparks Fly In Guelph- Sting vs Storm January 22, 2012

The Sarnia Sting made the trip to the Sleeman Centre on Sunday in hopes of getting back in the win column after losing 3-2 to the Spitfires Friday night. The Storm themselves were coming off a loss of their own as they fell in Barrie the night before.

The Storm faithful turned out in full force for the afternoon game and did not have to wait long before the opening goal. Hunter Garlent put the Storm up twenty-three seconds in, not the start Sarnia was hoping for. The remainder of the period seen Andrey Pedan throw a big hit that he was called for a head check, I didn't see any contact with the head from where I was sitting. Once play stopped Sting Defence men Adrian Robertson challenged Pedan and the spirited bought ended in a draw, but more importantly a Sting power play. Guelph would go on to kill the penalty. With just under eight minutes later Guelph would add to their lead after some magnificent passing that started in their own end when Dickenson sent a bank pass off the side boards right on to the tape of Francis Menard sending him on a two on one with Zack Mitchell. Once the Sarnia defence men went down to take the pass away Menard sent a beautiful saucer pass over the defender right to Mitchell who made no mistake and beat J.P. Anderson, putting the Storm up 2-0. Later in the period the Sting went back on the power play and with twelve seconds to go in the first, Sarnia defence men Connor Murphy sent the puck past Garret Sparks to cut the lead to 2-1. As the first came to end the game would see its second fight of the period, this time between Sarnia's Tyler Brown and a much younger Tyler Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi not only held his own but landed some serious bombs and took all the momentum back.

The second period would start with a bang too. At the 2:29 mark of the period the game would see its third fight, this time between Guelph's Spencer Turcotte and Sting forward Justice Dundas. This one was only some jostling before Turcotte got the take down. At the halfway point of the frame Guelph would get a five on three, but couldn't capitalize as Matt Finn would get a double minor just thirty seconds into their two man advantage. Finn was intially called for holding but received an extra two for unsportsmanlike conduct for voicing his opinion on the holding call. Guelph goalie Garret Sparks had been solid all game long and that wouldn't change as he continued to stimmie the Sting, as they killed off yet another of Sarnia's power plays. After two periods the Storm still lead 2-1 and Sparks had turned a side twenty-seven of the twenty-eight Sarnia shots he faced.

The third period Guelph showed they can hang with the big boys as they held Sarnia to only eight shots in the period and Sparks made multiple big saves throughout the game when his team was leading by a goal. Sparks was rewarded by his teammates when they were on a two man advantage late in the period. Francis Menard put the game away when he scored to extend the lead to 3-1 with 2:42 to go. Guelph would finish the game by killing off a late penalty.

Guelph won the game 3-1 in front of a home crowd of 4,033 fans. Sparks finished the afternoon with thirty-five saves and a first star nomination that was much deserved. Francis Menard chipped in with a goal and an assist, while Jason Dickinson had two assists.

With the win the Storm once again hold the last playoff spot in the west one point ahead of the Sault Grey Hounds. Guelph however has four games in hand on the Grey Hounds. Meanwhile the Sting still remain in fourth spot in the west and miss an opportunity to put some ground between them and fifth place Owen Sound. Yakipov remained out with a knee injury.

The Storm's penalty killers played a great game too as they killed off six of the seven power plays that were awarded to the Sting.

Garret Sparks played his best game of the season that I have personally seen him play. His positioning was good and he never panicked when the puck was loose around the net. Sparks's made it look easy as he turned away shot after shot. Look for my post game interview with Sparks on the website.

Next up for the Storm are the Niagara Ice Dogs on Friday the 27th at 7:30PM in Guelph.

Feel free to give me a follow on Twitter @ChrisMcdonald91

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