By DAVE BORODY
SAGINAW, Michigan – When you ask Sarnia Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu why his team has such an impressive record on the road this year, he gives you a straight answer.
“I don’t have an answer.”
But he says whatever the reasons are, Beaulieu hopes they keep working and he approves.
The Sting improved to 7-1-0-0 away from home following a 5-4 triumph over the Saginaw Spirit, Sunday afternoon in front of 2,703 fans at the Dow Event Centre.
The Sting took four of six points on the weekend, all on the road. They have won four of five and nine of their last 13 to improve to 10-7-0-1 in the Ontario Hockey League.
“It’s great winning on the road like this,” continued Beaulieu. “Usually it’s the other way around where you win more at home. I don’t know. We just seem a little more relaxed. Maybe for our next home game you might see the Sting bus out for a drive around town with some players on it.”
He added, “We seem to focus better on our systems. We don’t seem to panic as much and don’t give the puck away as much.”
As for the game, the Sting never trailed. The teams were scoreless after one period while Sarnia led 3-2 after the second.
“We looked tired in the first period. Those two games with Plymouth took a lot out of us both physically and mentally. But we overcame the first period. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the two points.”
The first period was scoreless, thanks to one player and one player only, that being Sting goalie Brodie Barrick.
The Spirit peppered Barrick with 21 shots and he turned aside every one. Barrick stopped back-to-back breakaways in a span of just over 30 seconds while Saginaw was shorthanded early in the period.
Later the rookie puck-stopper stoned the Spirit shooters with several point blank stops on a pair of Saginaw power plays.
“I don’t know how Brodie wasn’t the first star because he was the best player on the ice. He was outstanding in the first period. He was so calm and made a number of big saves.”
The second period saw the two teams combine for five goals with the Sting scoring three.
Sarnia took a 1-0 lead 57 seconds into the second frame when Nikolay Goldobin scored his seventh of the year on a penalty shot. Goldobin made a couple of dekes before slipping a backhand past goalie Jake Paterson.
After Garret Ross tied the game for the Spirit at 4:07, Sarnia regained the lead at 8:35 on a power play when Alex Basso drilled home a low slapshot off a nice cross-ice pass from Charlie Sarault.
Saginaw pulled even at 10:27 when Nick Moutrey banged home a centering pass.
But Reid Boucher restored Sarnia’s lead at 16:32 when he whipped home a low shot from a sharp angle off an Alex Galchenyuk pass.
Sarnia took their first two-goal lead at 4:39 of period three when Galchenyuk tipped home a perfect goalmouth pass from Sarault. Galchenyuk leads the team with 11 goals.
But Saginaw closed the gap to 4-3 at 7:38 on an Eric Locke tally.
Sarnia appeared to ice the game when Connor Murphy scored into an open net at 18:50. However, Saginaw wouldn’t go away as Jimmy Lodge scored with 45 seconds left to trail by one.
The Spirit had a couple of chances in the dying seconds, but Barrick shut the door with two key stops.
Saginaw out shot Sarnia 51-29.
Galchenyuk finished with a goal and two assists and Sarault three assists. Both players had a total of seven points in their past two games.
Galchenyuk said the team rebounded after a slow start.
“Saginaw came out flying in the first period and we stood around and watched them. We seemed tired playing our third game in three days. But our power play clicked in the second period and we got a few goals. It was good.”
The captain echoed the sentiments of his coach on the team’s road record.
“You guys ask that a lot. I don’t have the answer. It just happens. We play the same style, but we have better luck on the road.”
Home or away Beaulieu likes the way his team has played of late winning nine of 13.
“I like this team and I like our chemistry in all three positions. They are a fun bunch to coach. They come to the rink for practice and games ready to work hard. That’s all you can ask for as a coaching staff.”
Next action for the Sting is Friday night when they travel to Guelph to battle the Storm. They return home Sunday to host the Sudbury Wolves on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for Sunday’s game and all remaining home games for the Sting are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Fans are also reminded children 12 and under will be admitted to Sunday’s game with Sudbury for just $5.
– Amazingly two of the three stars were from Saginaw. Nick Moutrey with a goal and an assist was first star with Galchenyuk second star and Vincent Trocheck of the Spirit third star.
– Sarnia finished one-for-six on the power play and Saginaw zero-for-three.
– The Sting played minus Jack Kuzmyk, Davis Brown and Daniel Nikandrov, all sidelined with injuries while Craig Hottot is suspended.
– Tickets are also on sale daily for the Subway Super Series Game Nov. 12th at the RBC Centre between Team OHL and Team Russia. The honorary captain for Team OHL that night will be former National Hockey League great, Pat Stapleton of Strathroy.