By DAVE BORODY
Photos by Metcalfe Photography
Domenic Alberga scored his first career OHL hat trick in leading the Sarnia Sting to a convincing 7-1 romp over the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Friday night in front of 3,184 fans at the RBC Centre.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for Sarnia and leaves them with a 21-16-1-4 record in the Ontario Hockey League. They rank fourth overall in the Western Conference.
“It felt really good,” said Alberga, when asked about the three goals. “I was able to get off to a quick start and scoring two goals against (Brandon) Maxwell got my confidence up.”
The Sting scored in the opening minute of the game and never look back as they led 3-1 after the first period and 5-1 after the second. “We had a good week of practice,” said Alberga. “Our coach stressed that we can’t be losing to teams below us in the standings if we want to move up. We can’t take any teams lightly and have to be ready every night.”
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu says Alberga needs to play a certain way to be effective. “He’s got to work to be effective. He has to finish his checks and be a thorn in the opposition. That’s what he did tonight. He scored something like 15 goals last year in Brampton and we want him to equal or exceed that.”
Alberga has eight goals and 10 assists with the Sting.
Beaulieu was happy with his team’s performance. “We were moving the puck well. Our defencemen were very active and that’s something we changed at practice this week. We weren’t stationary like we were in the game against Plymouth. We wanted to get a second wave of attack because it makes us harder to defend when that happens.”
The Sarnia defence accounted for seven points as Alex Basso had two goals and one assist while Connor Murphy had a goal and two assists and Julian Luciani one assist. Brett Thompson scored the other Sarnia goal while Charlie Sarault chipped in with two assists.
Brett Foy scored the lone St. Michael’s goal against his former team-mate J.P. Anderson, who made 18 saves to get the win in goal for the Sting.
Ex-Sting goalie Brandon Maxwell allowed five goals on 11 shots before be pulled early in the second period. Spencer Martin finished.
Together they faced 26 shots.
Beaulieu said it was nice for his team to get a week of solid practice with no distractions. “Because of the hectic trade deadline and other things going on, we haven’t practiced much and it’s tough. This week of practice was like training camp. We kept them on the ice a little longer than usual. It was like starting over again.”
Basso got the Sting rolling just 58 seconds into the game beating Maxwell with a low shot between the legs. After Foy tied the game for the Majors at 12:25, Alberga put the Sting ahead to stay at 13:11.
Basso added his second of the game at 16:48 drilling home a hard slapshot. Sarnia struck quickly in the second period as Thompson converted a passout from Sarault at 3:16 while Alberga finished off a perfect pass from Thompson at 5:32.
Alberga’s hat trick goal came with the Sting shorthanded at 7:14 of period three on a pass from Craig Hottot. “Hotter and I were talking on the bench before our shift. I told him if he got the puck I was breaking for the net. So when we got out there, he was in the corner with the puck and he finally gave me the puck in front of the net. I just shot it and it went in. It was the happiest moment of my life so far.”
Sarnia’s seventh goal came in the final minute by Murphy on the power play. A meaningless goal, but it drew the largest applause of the game.
The reason? Whenever the Sting scores seven goals, everyone in the building receives a free burger from Harveys.
The Sting is back in action Saturday night when they host the Kingston Frontenacs beginning at 7 p.m. at the RBC Centre. The Frontenacs feature two ex-Sting players, Ryan Kujawinski and Jack Nevins.
Calling the RBC Box Office at 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com can obtain tickets
STING NOTES –
-Alberga was first star with Basso second star and Thompson third star. Murphy was the Dickies hardest working player of the game.
- Sarnia had only 10 forwards along with eight defencemen. Forward Justice Dundas, who was involved in a spirited, first period fight, is staying with the team for the remainder of the season. He was splitting his time between the Sting and the Sarnia Legionnaires.
- Sarnia finished one-for-two on the power play and St. Michael’s zero-for-three.
- The Sting improved their home record to 12-6-1-3.
- Sarnia is now 15-0-0-0 when leading after two periods.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.