By DAVE BORODY
Photo by Metcalfe Photography
Forward Craig Hottot of the Sarnia Sting was on the bench waiting overtime when backup goalie Brodie Barrick asked him the question.
“He wanted to know how it would feel if I was able to score the winning goal. I told him it would be great,” Hottot said.
Hottot did not disappoint Barrick or the largest crowd of the season.
The overager rocketed home a cross-ice pass from Charlie Sarault at 2:44 of the extra session to give the Sting a 4-3 win over the Niagara IceDogs, Saturday night before 3,782 fans at the RBC Centre.
The win, Sarnia’s third in a row, moved them over the .500 mark for the first time this year. They now stand at 4-3-0-1 in the Ontario Hockey League.
Even more gratifying it was Sarnia’s first home victory in five attempts.
Hottot described his second goal of the year.
“They put me there on my off-wing for the one-timer. I know Charlie has great hands. I knew the pass would be coming. When I got it I just wanted to make sure I got it over the goalie.”
He added, “The goal felt great, but it was even better finally winning at home. I missed three games to start the year and it was tough watching. But we came up big tonight.”
Here’s how head coach Jacques Beaulieu saw the game-winner.
“We practiced the four-on-three a lot during the week. The kids know what to do. I know the fans want us to shoot more, but we want to move the puck around and be patient. We got it done tonight.”
Three times in the game Sarnia held one-goal leads only to see Niagara fight back to tie the game each time. The tying goal came at 13:14 of period three.
But the Sting were given a golden opportunity when ex-Sting Brett Ritchie was handed five-minute major and automatic game misconduct for checking from behind on Sting rearguard Craig Duininck.
No penalty was initially called, but as Duininck lay on the ice the officials huddled at center ice and then made the call.
Sarnia had several opportunities late in the third period and early in overtime before Hottot ended the game in dramatic fashion.
Beaulieu was happy to see his team get their first home victory.
“It’s good. The kids played well. We had a lot of energy. They are working hard. Our special teams were good, the defencemen were moving the puck and J.P. (Anderson) gave us a chance to win in goal. It’s a win by committee.”
Beaulieu was not overly pleased with the way his team gave up three, one-goal leads.
“But it’s the way we play and there’s times it could happen all year. We are not going to blow teams out. We have a style of play and have to stick to it.”
He added, “The kids are buying into our systems and everyone is on the same page right now. We can be a hard team to play against when we play this style and work hard.”
After Anderson stopped a breakaway early in period one, Sarnia opened the scoring at 12:57 on the power play when Daniel Nikandrov poked home a loose puck. Hottot and Nikolay Goldobin picked up assists.
But Niagara tied the game three minutes later after a couple of poor clearing attempts by the Sting. Mitchell Theoret converted a centering pass from New York Islanders first round pick, Ryan Strome.
Sarnia regained the lead 58 seconds into period two when Angelo DeAngelo took a pass from Alex Galchenyuk and from a sharp angle; DeAngelo fired a wrist shot into the top corner of the net. It was his second goal of the year.
Niagara squared matters against at 3:48 when Strome beat Anderson with a quick wrist shot to the short side.
Justice Dundas staked the Sting to a 3-2 lead at 7:47 when he was left alone in front of the Niagara net and he made no mistake banging home a loose puck, his second goal of the season.
After killing off back-to-back penalties early in period three, Nikandrov was awarded a penalty shot at 10:47. But his backhand from close range was stopped by Niagara goalie Christopher Festarini.
Steven Shipley tied the game for Niagara at 13:14 when he skated from the corner and jammed the puck under Anderson.
Sarnia finished with a 33-29 edge in shots on goal. Niagara did not get a shot in overtime.
The Sting was two-for-four on the power play while Niagara finished zero-for-four. It marked the third straight game Sarnia has not allowed a power play goal.
Next action for the Sting is Sunday afternoon when they host Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 2:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this year.
“We played well against them up there last week and weren’t that bad when they were here,” said Hottot. “But we learned from that game we have to play a full 60 minutes and work hard. If we do that, we will be okay.”
- Nikandrov (goal and assist) was first star, Strome (goal and assist) second star while Hottot (goal and assist) third star. Dundas was the Dickies hardest working player of the game.
- Goldobin picked up a pair of assists for he Sting.
- The Sting welcomed defenceman Alex Basso back in the lineup after missing two games. Jordan Addesi was serving the first of a two game suspension picked up in Windsor was Mike DiPaolo was numbers.
- A reporter from the Montreal Journal was at the game doing a feature on Galchenyuk, the Montreal Canadiens first round pick, (third overall) in the NHL draft. Galchenyuk managed just one assist, but was dangerous throughout the game and missed several great scoring chances.
- Sarnia went into the game fourth in the OHL on the power play while they are 10th on the penalty kill.
- Tickets for Sunday’s game and all home games are on sale at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting game home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.