By DAVE BORODY
The Sarnia Sting dropped a 3-2 decision to the Plymouth Whalers, Friday night in front of 3,038 spectators at the RBC Centre.
The loss snapped a three-game wining streak for the Sting who saw their overall record fall to 8-7-0-1 in the Ontario Hockey League.
After Plymouth jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the first period, Sarnia battled back to even the score at 2-2 after 40 minutes.
The third period produced just one goal, that being the game-winner by the Whalers at the 11:30 mark.
“It was a pretty good hockey game,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “We turned the puck over a little too much, but I don’t want to take away the creativity we have. We maybe got a little too cute at times where we should have shot the puck instead of passing it.”
He added, “We need to clean up our neutral zone play. I thought they got lucky on both their goals in the first period. The first one appeared to be a high stick while the second one from our angle appeared to be gloved in. Both those goals could have gone the either way.”
But Beaulieu respects the Whalers.
“They are a good team. They skate well and are very aggressive. They have four first rounders and 10 players on their roster drafted by National Hockey League teams.”
The Sting missed a golden opportunity early in the first period when rookie Nikolay Goldobin was sent in alone. He made a nice deke, but hit the side of the net with the goalie out of position.
Plymouth opened the scoring at 9:21 when Alex Aleardi deflected home a point shot. It appeared Aleardi’s stick was above his shoulders, but video review allowed the goal to stand.
A turnover by the Sting resulted in Plymouth’s second goal at 13:23 when Ryan Hartman knocked in a rebound after Sting goalie J.P. Anderson had made the first stop.
Sarnia fought back to tie the game with two early second period goals.
Justice Dundas scored his fourth of the season at 2:14 when he snapped a wrist shot past goalie Matt Mahalak. Rookie Brett Hargrave and newcomer Alex Carnevale drew assists. For Carnevale it was his first point in a Sting uniform in his second game.
The Sting tied the game at 6:53. Some persistent forechecking paid off as Nick Latta took a pass from Goldobin in the slot and whistled a wrist shot past the goalie. Bryan Moore also assisted on Latta’s fifth goal of the year.
“There’s no quit in this team,” said Beaulieu, who liked the way his team fought back after the first period. “They play hard and are a very resilient bunch right now.”
The score remained that way until the 11:30 mark of period three when Garrett Meurs scored the game-winner when he knocked in a rebound after Anderson made the first save.
The Sting had some chances late in the game, but the Whalers goalie closed the door.
“We had too many turnovers,” said Latta. “It makes it tougher when we get behind like that. We need to come out stronger in the first period, especially at home. When you start off better, you usually have a better game.”
Latta says his line of Goldobin and Moore are keeping things simple and it’s creating offence.
“It’s always nice to have good chemistry between us. My two linemates are very skilled players. We try and keep it simple and try and make plays.”
The Sting went into the game with the league’s top power play while Plymouth had the best penalty kill. Each team had only two power plays and neither side scored with the man advantage.
Sarnia finished with a 34-25 edge in shots on goal.
The two teams meet again Saturday night in Plymouth while the Sting complete the weekend Sunday afternoon in Saginaw.
Sarnia’s next game is a week from Sunday, Nov. 11th when they host the Sudbury Wolves beginning at 2:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It’s Sudbury’s lone visit to Sarnia this season.
– Meurs was first star with Latta second star and Hartman third star. (Hartman was the only player with more than a point as he had a goal and an assist). Hargrave was the Dickies hardest working player of the game.
– Sarnia continues to struggle on home ice with their record at home 3-6-0-1 compared to 5-1-1-0 on the road.
– Defenceman Josh Chapman was back in the lineup after missing three games. He had a specially fitted cast to protect a broken finger. Davis Brown and Daniel Nikandrov remain sidelined with injuries, Craig Hottot is on suspension while defenceman David Nemecek was numbers.
– Sarnia and Plymouth play six times this season.
– Tickets for the Team OHL-Team Russia Subway Super Series, Nov. 12th in Sarnia are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.
Photo Courtesy Metcalfe Photography