By DAVE BORODY
Photo Courtesy Metcalfe Photography
The Sarnia Sting won their fourth game in a row Sunday afternoon, but they had to overcome a brilliant effort from a rookie goalie to do so.
The Sting prevailed in a 3-1 victory over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in front of 3,470 fans at the RBC Centre.
But the score would have been much higher if not for the play of the Greyhounds rookie netminder, Justin Nichols.
Making his first career Ontario Hockey League start, Nichols turned aside 39 of 42 shots he faced. If not for Nichols, the Sting likely would have won by six or seven goals.
“We got a lot of pucks to the net today,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “But you have to give their goalie credit. For his first OHL start he made some great saves. He has a bright future ahead of him.”
Nichols was named the game’s first star as Sarnia held a 42-13 edge in shots on goal.
Beaulieu told his players not to get frustrated.
“We had 18 shots in the first period and we only up 1-0. We kept reminding the kids to get to the net and try and tip pucks when they could. Our kids battled today and only faced a little pressure from the Soo late in the third period.”
Offensively, import rookie Nikolay Goldobin continues to shine for the Sting as he scored a highlight-reel goal and added a pair of assists. (Goldobin had two assists in the win over Niagara).
“He’s been real good lately,” said Beaulieu. “He’s adjusting to the league and speed of the game. He’s going to be a heck of a player in this league.”
Beaulieu added, “We put Nikolay and Alex (Galchenyuk) together and there’s definitely some chemistry. They move the puck well, they cycle the puck and are very tricky. They see each other well on the ice.”
Goldobin, who now has two goals and five assists on the season, talked about adjusting to life in Canada through teammate Daniel Nikandrov. Goldobin speaks little English.
“I’m feeling more comfortable all the time in Canada. Hockey is the same game in Russia, but the OHL is much more faster than I was accustomed to. It is more physical.”
Goldobin just smiled when asked about playing the last couple of games with Galchenyuk.
“That is awesome. We are good partners and we both have good vision on the ice.”
Beaulieu said the game with Sault Ste. Marie was different than Saturday night’s overtime win over Niagara.
“I thought the Soo was a little tired today. They were played their third game in four nights. We played a tough game against Niagara. It was fast and physical. Coming back 16 hours later for another game was tough. But I was happy with our effort and to get two points.”
Sarnia outshot the Greyhounds 18-2 in period one, but only had a 1-0 lead. That was thanks to Goldobin at 7:18. He made a nice move to get by a Greyhounds defenceman and then backhanded the puck past Nichols into the top corner.
Sault Ste. Marie tied the game at 1:31 of period two on only their third shot of the game. They took advantage of a Sting turnover and Andrew Fritsch ripped a wrist shot past Sting goalie J.P. Anderson from the right wing.
After Nichols made his best save of the game on Galchenyuk late in period two, Sarnia scored what turned out to be the game-winner with seven seconds on the clock.
Galchenyuk fed a pass to Justice Dundas, who was streaking down the right wing and Dundas made no mistake drilling home a low wrist shot to the far corner. For Dundas it was his third goal of the season.
Sarnia appeared to ice the game midway through the third period when Anthony DeAngelo notched his third goal of the season on a wrist shot. Goldobin and Craig Hottot garnered assists.
But with just over five minutes remaining, Sting defenceman Alex Basso was tossed from the game with a major for checking from behind.
Sarnia got a bit of a break when Nick Cousins of the Greyhounds took a penalty midway through the power play. However the Sting defence did a marvellous job of allowing just one shot on goal.
Sarnia has now won four straight and improved their overall record to 5-3-0-1. The Sting’s penalty killing was again perfect as Sault Ste. Marie was zero-for-two. Sarnia has not allowed a power play goal during the winning streak.
Sarnia was also zero-for-two with the man advantage.
The Sting now prepare for three games in three nights. It begins Thursday when they host the Mississauga Steelheads. Friday night Sarnia plays at Guelph while they return home Saturday to host the Kitchener Rangers.
Both home games begin at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for all Sting home games are on sale at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
- Nichols was first star with Goldobin second star and DeAngelo third star. Jack Kuzmyk was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game. Galchenyuk had a pair of assists.
- The Sting lost forward Davis Brown in the second period when he took an open ice check from Kevin Spinozzi of the Greyhounds. Spinozzi was handed a major for a check and an automatic game misconduct. Brown did not return.
- Special teams continue to be special for the Sting. Going into the game they had moved to second in the league on the power play and seventh in penalty killing. Two weeks ago they were near the bottom in both departments.
- When asked what his favourite restaurant is, Goldobin smiled and said he likes them all, but loves McDonald’s the best.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.