SAGINAW. Mich. – A badly, depleted lineup finally caught up with the Sarnia Sting Saturday night.
With as many as seven players missing, including four regular defencemen, the Sting dropped a 6-2 decision to the Saginaw Spirit in front of 4,312 fans at the Dow Event Centre.
The loss snapped Sarnia’s two-game road, winning streak and leaves them with 28-21-1-5 record in the Ontario Hockey League.
The loss was the first in five games against the Spirit this season. The teams meet one more time, March 14 in Sarnia.
The injury bug continues to take a big bite out of the Sting lineup. Currently there are four regular defencemen on the shelf.
The latest to go down is Alex Basso who suffered a separated shoulder in the second period of the Guelph game Friday. He is expected out four to six weeks. Basso, who missed almost a month earlier with a broken finger, leads all Sting rearguards in scoring with nine goals and 34 assists in 41 games.
Other defencemen missing are captain Nathan Chiarlitti (ankle), Adrian Robertson (neck) and Craig Duininck (foot).
Craig Hottot lasted only two shifts before going to the dressing room and not returning with an upper body injury. Forward Brett Thompson was not 100 percent after taking a slapshot off the foot in Guelph.
Add Nick Latta (shoulder) and Alex Galachenyuk (knee), the Sting has six regulars out of the lineup with playoffs only a month away.
The Sting once again had their three young drafted players in the lineup, forwards Daniel Nikandrov and Davis Brown, along with defenceman Mike Dipaolo. They also had another defenceman, Steve Farlow, from the Sarnia Legionnaires.
Saginaw took control of this game early jumping out to a 2-0 lead after one period before extending that lead to 5-0 after 40 minutes.
“The kids didn’t have much left in the tank after Friday night,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “We had some young defencemen playing tonight who aren’t used to the kind of minutes they played. We just need to get some rest and be ready for Monday.”
He added, “It will be nice to be back home again as we haven’t been home in awhile. We expect a sell-out crowd and are playing the best team in the country.”
The Sting spoiled Jake Paterson’s shutout bid at 3:27 of the third period on the power play when Connor Murphy scored his sixth goal on the season off a pass from Ryan Spooner. Nail Yakupov, with his team-leading 26th goal of the season, also scored for Sarnia.
Brandon Saad led the Spirit with two goals while Eric Locke, Michael Fine, Josh Shalla and Garret Ross notched singles.
J.P. Anderson started in goal for the Sting and allowed five goals in 25 shots before giving way to Brandon Hope at the 13:30 mark of the second period. Hope gave up one goal on six shots.
Paterson turned aside 41 of 43 shots he faced.
The Sting will play their first home game in two and a half weeks on Monday when they host the London Knights in the annual Family Day affair beginning at 2:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Sarnia goes right back on the road Wednesday in Owen Sound before returning home for a pair of home games next weekend as they host the Windsor Spitfires Friday night and the Guelph Storm on Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for all Sting home games are on sale daily at the RBC box office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
– There were two busloads of fans from Sarnia at the game.
– Sarnia’s road record slipped under the .500 mark again to 13-14-0-2.
– Each team had a power play goal in four tries.
– The Sting has 13 games remaining in the regular schedule, eight of them on home ice.
– Paterson was the game’s first star with Shalla (one goal and three assists), second star and Saad (two goals and one assist), third star.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.