By Dan McCaffery
The slumping Sarnia Legionnaires have fallen into last place in the Western Ontario Junior Hockey Conference.
Coach Dan Rose's squad lost its third game in a row Sunday, dropping a 5-2 decision to the St. Thomas Stars.
The setback, which came in the Elgin County city, leaves Sarnia with a worrisome 1-3 won-lost record.
If it's any consolation to Legionnaire fans, the contest was closer than the score would indicate. In fact, Sarnia held its own, territorially at least, firing 42 shots on Stars netminder Mike Slaats. St. Thomas had the exact same number of cracks at Sarnia goalie Kyle Washer.
The Legionnaires came out playing hard and were rewarded at the 4:07 mark of the first period.
Jason Teschke charged right through the Stars defence, stickhandling around three defenders, only to be beaten at the last moment by Slaats. But Shawn Waldie was Johnny-on-the-spot for the rebound, poking the puck into a yawning cage as it sat on the goal line.
After that, the teams traded one great scoring chance after another, with Sarnia missing on its opportunities while St. Thomas cashed in on theirs.
The Legionnaires got their second goal a little past the halfway point of the third frame when Derek D'Andrea, standing beside the net, converted a pretty pass from Daniel Nikandrov. Steve Farlow also drew an assist.
Captain Tyler Cicchini had a great chance but was robbed close in by Slaats. Then a hustling Chad Van Eyk broke into the clear, only to be beaten by Slaats.
Neither team could score with the man advantage, with Sarnia going 0-for-5 and St. Thomas 0-for-3.
During a four-minute manpower advantage in the second period, the Legionnaires buzzed all around the Stars net but they couldn't buy a goal.
Sarnia is in London Wednesday and returns home Thursday to face the Chatham Maroons.
After the game Rose told his players to stick together and keep battling. If they do that, he added, they will be come out of the slump a stronger team than when they went into it.