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7-Day Buzz: Sarnia Sting Week in Review

The Sarnia Sting continued to play their way to their first playoff berth in three years as they suit up for four games in less than seven days. Coming off an emotional win Monday afternoon over Canada’s top rated team CHL team, London Knights, the Sting’s week continued with a quick trip to Owen Sound Wednesday night to determine the Western Conference’s fourth place team. Sarnia would return home Friday night to play in back-to-back home games against Windsor and Guelph.

Sarnia 3 @ Owen Sound 4 (OT)On less than a few days’ rest, Sarnia travelled north to meet the Owen Sound Attack at Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre to determine what team would hold down fourth place in the Western Conference. Owen Sound and Sarnia both iced diminished rosters as the Attack skated with 17 skaters while Sarnia was limited to just 15 players. Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Latta, Craig Hottot, Craig Duininck, Adrian Robertson, Alex Basso and Nathan Chiarlitti were unable to go for the Sting but Legionnaires’ Daniel Nikandrov and Mike Dipaolo would suit up again.
With an array of scouts in attendance to catch the 2012 draft-eligible players (Yakupov, Gemel Smith, Gavrus among others), the game was of importance from a team and player perspective. The game lacked much action through the first two periods but once the puck dropped for the third period the goals came in waves as a total six pucks crossed the goal line. Owen Sound’s rookie Artus Gavrus notched two goals while Yakupov snuck in one of his own on a wrap-around try giving scouts some material to jot down. After sixty minutes the teams were in a deadlock guaranteeing a single point for both Western Conference squads. Overtime was needed and at the 3:38 mark of the extra frame, Attack’s overage defenseman Jay Gilbert came off the wall and fired the puck into the Sting net sending the water bottle flying and the Sting home with a single point.
With the Attack win, Sarnia and Owen Sound were tied for fourth place in the Conference with Sarnia having a game in hand. Owen Sound leads the season series two games to one as the home team has won every game. The Attack will return to Sarnia’s RBC Centre on March 10th to complete the season series.

Windsor 0 @ Sarnia 5
The seventh ranked Windsor Spitfires arrived in Sarnia to take on Sting in their fifth meeting of the season. The Spitfires and Sting had split the previous four games with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Friday’s game was delayed by about fifteen minutes as the RBC Staff attempted to restore the lighting. The puck dropped and the game was underway in front of 3748 spectators eager to see the Sting return to the win column.

The first period witnessed two fights and a sting goal that energized the home crowd. Legionnaires’ call-up Mike Dipaolo dropped the mitts with Spits’ rookie John Bowen minutes into the game and a few shifts later Sarnia’s Justice Dundas squared off with the OHL’s penalty minute leader Ty Bilcke. Dundas gave up over two inches and close to thirty pounds to Bilcke but showed his fighting skills as the two gave the crowd a good show.

At 13:48 minute mark of the first, Dominic Alberga capitalized on a large rebound from Nikandrov’s shot to bury his 14th goal of the season to open the scoring.

Despite the one-sided final score, Windsor outplayed Sarnia through the first two periods outshooting them 21-18 and putting the Sting on their heels through most of the first 40 minutes. Sarnia spent most of the second period on the penalty kill as the team struggled to stay out of the box. Connor Murphy and Jack Kuzmyk were outstanding at killing off Tyler Brown’s checking from behind penalty and several 5-on-3 Windsor powerplays. Craig Duininck showed great character in his first game back from his foot injury blocking shots with no fear.

Sarnia’s Reid Boucher broke out of his scoring slump as he banked in his first goal in seven games to put the Sting up 2-0. Anthony DeAngelo was dazzling fans all night long with his superb skating and puckhandling skills and he eventually netted his fifth goal of the season.

Ryan Spooner scored the only Sting powerplay goal as he batted in his 26th of the season from a Brett Thompson cross crease pass to elevate the Sting’s lead to 4-0.

Unfortunately, Legionnaires’ call-up Daniel Nikandrov took a puck off the foot in the second period, leaving the game and did not return. Nikandrov impressed in his sixth OHL game registering an assist and showing a knack for good puck pursuit. Nikandrov was especially efficient in the faceoff dot winning them at will. Nikandrov confirmed via twitter late Friday night that he fractured his foot adding another injury to the Sting infirmary and a big loss for the Sarnia Jr. B Legionnaires as they enter the playoffs.

For the second time in less than a week, congratulations are due to a Sting for scoring their first career OHL goal. Congratulations to Justice Dundas on scoring his first career OHL goal as he picked up his rebound and fired the puck into the Spitfires net to give the Sting their fifth goal on the night.

Sarnia dressed Strathroy Jr. B Rocket forward Justin Thomas and he found the gamesheet earning an assist on Justin Dundas’ goal.
JP Anderson played a strong game between the pipes stopping 28 shots to earn his second shutout in a Sting uniform and his 10th career doughnut. Anderson’s first shutout as a Sting was back in his debut on January 6th. The biggest save for JP Anderson was when Spitfires’ star forward Alexander Khokhlachev knocked down an air-mailed pass for a breakaway late in the first period. Anderson would earn first star honours with his impressive performance.

Windsor and Sarnia wrap up their season series March 11th when the Sting travel to the WFSU Centre in Windsor.

Guelph 4 @ Sarnia 5
Saturday night’s game versus the Guelph Storm was another fan friendly event as there was plenty of excitement and heroics in the building. Nail Yakupov entered the game pointless in two games against the Guelph Storm this season but he was the difference maker….yet again. Sarnia entered Saturday’s game with a record of one win, one loss and another overtime loss in their three games they have faced Guelph this season.

As the puck dropped (on time tonight), Guelph jumped on a tired Sarnia Sting team, playing with only 15 skaters for the consecutive night, scoring two goals in the opening eight minutes by. JP Anderson started in his sixth straight game for Sarnia and on the opening two goals by Guelph he was down and out as Mitchell and Menard slid pucks past him. Sting’s Reid Boucher scored in his second consecutive game a minute into the second period on the powerplay as he cleaned up a Yakupov one-timer from Ryan Spooner to cut the Storm lead to one. As the second period dwindled down, Tyler J. Brown cleared the puck over the glass in the Sting’s zone sending him off for two minutes for delay of game. Brown would only need to spend twelve seconds in the sin bin as Guelph’s Cody McNaughton picked up a loose puck and performed a quick wrap-around to restore the Storm’s two-goal lead.

For the second straight night, Sarnia came out of the second period intermission hungry for goals as the Sting tallied four third period goals. Ryan Spooner started the third period comeback as he backhanded in the puck past Guelph’s Garrett Spark for the Sting’s second goal. Minutes later, Ludvig Rensfeldt was the beneficiary of a nice play by overager Brett Thompson as he kept the puck in at the blueline while on his stomach. Rensfeldt would score seconds later as he fired one top shelf for his 18th goal of the season. Forty-one seconds later, Nail Yakupov inched closer to the 30-goal mark as he pounced on a Spooner rebound and sent a back hand shot over Spark’s glove giving the Sting their first lead of the game. Characteristically Yakupov, Nail grabbed the front of his jersey and enthusiastically showed the fans that the players were playing for the “Sting team” in his goal celebration. The lead did not last long as rookie Storm forward Jason Dickinson scored to tie the game as Tyler J. Brown sat in the penalty box for a hooking infraction.

The exciting back and forth action continued as the officials let both teams decide their fate. Sting netminder JP Anderson showed his veteran demeanor making several key saves for the Sting as Guelph pinned Sarnia deep into their zone. The Sting struggled to clear the puck and worked frantically to in an attempt to earn that single point and force overtime. With seconds remaining Ryan Spooner picked up the puck off the half-boards to Anderson’s right and fired a laser pass up the middle to a streaking Yakupov. The Russian game breaking winger split defenders Andrey Pedan (New York Islanders prospect) and Matt Finn (2012 NHL Draft eligible) and went in alone on Maple Leafs’ prospect Garrett Sparks sending a shot between his five-hole with 3.7 seconds remaining on the clock sending 3392 fans at the RBC Centre into celebration. Yakupov continues to add to his highlight reel OHL plays and for the second time in less than a week Sarnia fans left the rink with an extra bounce in their step.

JP Anderson made 29 stops for the win. The Sarnia Sting travel to Sault Ste Marie on Wednesday as the team looks to continue their strong play as of late and finish the month of February on a strong note. The Sting have three road games remaining (Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, London and Plymouth) and fans have five more home regular season home games to catch Nail Yakupov live in action (Ottawa, Plymouth, Sault Ste. Marie, Owen Sound and Saginaw).

Sarnia’s week includes playing the Western Conference’s 9th place Soo Greyhounds on the road, the Eastern Conference’s second placed Ottawa 67’s team and the West Division leading Plymouth Whalers at home Friday and Saturday.

Current Sting Injuries:
Alex Galchenyuk, Nick Latta, Craig Hottot, Daniel Nikandrov, Nathan Chiarlitti, Alex Basso, Adrian Robertson, Craig Duininck (DTD)

#StingFacts- Sting are 7-2-1 in the month of February outscoring opponents 42 to 32.
- Yakupov scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season becoming the first to reach the milestone this season for Sarnia. Yakupov has eight goals and ten points in eight February games as his production has seemed to switch from playmaking to sniper.
- Sarnia’s powerplay for the week – 3/14 (21%)
- Sarnia’s penalty kill for the week – 12/15 (80%)

Sting Scoring for the Week (3 Games)

Spooner – 3G 2A
Yakupov – 3G 1A
Boucher – 2G 2A
Thompson – 3A
Alberga – 2G
Rensfeldt – 1G 1A
DeAngelo – 1G 1A
Murphy – 2A
Sarault – 2A
Dundas – 1G
Nikandrov – 1A
Tyler J. Brown – 1A
Kuzmyk – 1A
Thomas – 1A
Luciani – 1A

Comments :

Anonymous said...

Just to let you know, it was Boucher that passed Yakki the puck for the game winner against Guelph.

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