By DAVE BORODY
Photo by Metcalfe Photography
Sniper Brett Thompson of the Sarnia Sting has only played his hometown Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds twice since he was traded from the team midway through last season.
He’s going to remember that second game for a long time.
Thompson fired three goals and added an assist in leading the Sting to a hard-fought 5-2 win over Sault Ste. Marie, Sunday afternoon in front of 3,695 fans at the RBC Centre.
The win ended a successful weekend for the Sting where they took four of six points to improve to 17-7-1-4 in the Ontario Hockey League.
“It feels good to beat them,” said Thompson. “Kyle (Dubas, the Greyhounds general manager), used to be my agent so it feels nice to get the win.”
Thompson’s hat trick was his second since joining the Sting. He now has 12 goals in 10 games since he was acquired by the Sting and 17 overall this season.
“Everyone knows why we acquired Brett,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “He’s a top offensive guy for the past couple of seasons with back-to-back 40-goal seasons. We expect that this year.”
Thompson says he knows what his role with the Sting is. But he admits things get even tougher when the lineup is depleted with injuries, sickness and suspension.
“It’s tiring. You can’t take time off on the ice because you know you are going to get more shifts. You just have to be better prepared like eating right and getting the proper rest.”
As for the game, Thompson said, “We were a little sloppy the first half of the game. But we came on strong in the end and got the two points.”
The Sting played with only 16 skaters. Missing were Craig Duininck (suspension), Nail Yakupov (back), Brett Ritchie (hip), Alex Basso (finger), Connor Murphy (knee) and Alex Galchenyuk (knee).
“Absolutely,” said Beaulieu, when asked if he was happy with his team’s performance. “We are a beat up bunch right now. But we gutted it out. We played real hard, played our systems and our special teams were good. Also, Brandon Maxwell gave us a chance in goal. I’m pretty proud of our effort.”
There was just one goal in the opening period and it came at 17:36. Reid Boucher knocked in a pass out from Thompson for his 17th goal of the year. The goal ignited the fans, as it was their chance to throw stuffed animals on the ice.
The 14th annual Teddy Bear Toss game saw 2,875 bears collected.
The other highlight of the period came at 8:59 when Maxwell stopped ex-Sting Brandon Alderson on a penalty shot. Alderson had been pulled down on a breakaway. Alderson tried to lift a backhand past Maxwell, but the Sting goalie stayed right with him and made the stop.
The Greyhounds came out hard in the second period and scored a pair of goals to take a 2-1 lead. Ryan Sproul banged home a rebound at 3:46 while ex-Sting Joe Rogalski scored a power play goal at 7:29.
But the turning point of the game came late in the period when Nick Cousins of the Greyhounds was tossed from the game with a match penalty for slew footing. The slew-foot took place after the whistle.
The Sting took full advantage on the power play. Taylor Carnevale tied the game at 17:52 with his first goal in eight games while Thompson scored what proved to be the game-winner at 18:57 when he snapped a wrist shot over the shoulder of goalie Jack Campbell.
Sarnia’s third power play goal came at 9:07 of period three, again scored by Thompson. He intercepted an attempted clearing pass from Campbell in the slot area and skated in to slip a backhand past the bewildered netminder.
Thompson completed the hat trick at 18:54 when he scored into an open net. The goal was unique in the fact team-mate Charlie Sarault could have scored, but decided to pass to Thompson.
“I thanked Charlie after the game,” said Thompson. “That was a very unselfish play by him. It’s something you don’t expect very often.”
Sarault finished with three assists, giving him eight points on the weekend in three games. He now has 45 points, just one point back of team leader Nail Yakupov.
“Charlie’s probably been our best all-around player this season,” said Beaulieu. “He had a great weekend for us.”
Sarnia finished with a 27-23 edge in shots on goal.
The Sting will play three games this weekend, including two at the RBC Centre. They host the Erie Otters on Friday at 7:05 p.m. travel to Plymouth on Saturday night to battle the Whalers and return home Sunday afternoon to take on the Peterborough Petes starting at 2:05 p.m.
Calling the RBC Centre box office at 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com can obtain tickets for both home games
- Thompson was first star (three goals and one assist), Carnevale second star (one goal and two assists) and Maxwell third star. Captain Nathan Chiarlitti was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game.
- Beaulieu said after the game that defenceman Connor Murphy will likely make his debut on Friday night. Murphy has not played a game this year due to knee surgery back in August. He is a first round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes.
- Sarnia finished three-for-seven on the power play and Sault Ste. Marie one-for-four.
- Sarnia’s home record improved to 9-3-1-3. They are also now 11-0-0-0 when leading after two periods.
- The Sting now leads the Greyhounds 2-1 in their eight-game season series.
- Beaulieu also said after the game that first round draft pick Ryan Kujawinski was injured in the third period.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.