By DAVE BORODY
OWEN SOUND – The Sarnia Sting recorded their first win of the season Saturday night the old-fashioned way.
They earned it.
The Sting came from behind to knock off the previously unbeaten Owen Sound Attack, 2-1, before 2.928 fans at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
Sarnia had opened the season with three straight home games in the Ontario Hockey League managing just a point, that coming in a shootout loss.
“That was a huge win, we needed that,” said Sting overage forward, Craig Hottot, who played his first game of the season and notched an assist on the winning goal.
“After three straight home games we came out here on the road against a strong team and played a full 60 minutes. I’m proud of the guys.”
Owen Sound had notched seven out of a possible eight points in their opening four games of the season.
Hottot admitted it was tough sitting out a three-game suspension.
“Especially because we were losing. That makes it 10 times tougher. It’s the worst feeling in the world. Tonight the team played great and there was good chemistry with all the lines.”
Hottot played right wing on a line with Alex Galchenyuk and Daniel Nikandrov. But he also killed penalties and played the point on the second unit power play.
He added, “Everybody knew we had to get that win and we pulled it out. I think that’s going to be our motto all season along and that’s work hard and play a full 60 minutes.”
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu knows the importance of having Hottot in the lineup on a regular basis.
“He gives us another top six forward. He also kills penalties and really helped out in that area tonight. He’s a seasoned player who we need every game.”
Beaulieu liked the way his team bounced back after a tough loss 24 hours earlier at home against the Greyhounds.
“We played 46 good minutes Friday night. We just had a couple of breakdowns. The kids have played well, but have nothing to show for it. Tonight was a good effort because we competed. You are always concerned as a coach how your team will perform the next game.
“Tonight we played our systems and finished our checks against a good team. We probably should have had a win last weekend, but that’s hockey and the nature of the beast.”
The Sting peppered ex-Sting goalie Brandon Hope with 42 shots. Sting goalie J.P. Anderson had another solid effort as he faced 29 shots. Anderson was the game’s first star.
The Sting outshot (14-8) and outplayed the Attack in the opening period, but found themselves trailing 1-0.
Keevin Cutting scored for Owen Sound at 18:51 when his low shot from the left point found the back of the net.
Anderson kept his team within striking distance early in the second period with several outstanding stops. His best save came at the four-minute mark when he stopped Cameron Brace on a breakaway.
Sarnia tied the game at 8:54 while shorthanded. Charlie Sarault intercepted a pass at his own blue line. He raced down the ice on a breakaway and made a nice deke before slipping the puck past Hope. It was Sarault’s first goal of the year.
On only their second power play of the game, the Sting scored what proved to be the game-winner at 11:19. Defenceman Connor Murphy’s first shot was stopped be Hope, but Murphy followed up on the play and jammed the rebound into the net. Galchenyuk and Hottot drew assists.
The Sting was not about to let a lead slip away in the third period two nights in a row. This time around allowed just five shots on goal and killed off the lone Attack power play in the third period.
“Tonight we didn’t forget our systems,” said Beaulieu, when asked about the third period differences. “We kept a forward high and our defence didn’t pinch.”
Owen Sound had just one face-off in the Sarnia zone in the final minute with six attackers, with 24.8 seconds left, but never got a shot on goal.
Sarnia was one-for-four on the power play while Owen Sound went zero-for-four with the man advantage.
“I love to help out on the penalty-kill,” said Hottot. “I was happy with the way I blocked a couple of shots, one on a two-on-one and the other one on a scramble. That made a big difference.”
Next action for the Sting is Friday night when they host Owen Sound at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It’s the only home game of the weekend for Sarnia as next Saturday they play in Sault Ste. Marie while Thanksgiving Day Monday Sarnia is at Windsor to battle the Spitfires at 2 p.m.
Tickets for Friday’s game with Owen Sound, and all home games are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
– Anderson was first star with Hope second star and Murphy third star.
– Ex-Sting captain Nathan Chiarlitti played his first game against his old team. Chiarlitti has no points for the Attack in five games, but is a plus-five.
– The Sting had three players on the sidelines. Defenceman Alex Basso is recovering from an upper body injury, rookie forward Bryan Moore is expected to skate next week as he is nursing a groin injury while rookie rearguard Dave Nemecek was a case of numbers.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.