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MISSISSAUGA – Rookie defenceman Anthony DeAngelo has scored three goals so far this season for the Sarnia Sting.
That’s impressive in itself, but what’s even more impressive is the fact all three have been game winners.
DeAngelo scored what proved to be the winning goal as the Sting skated to a 4-2 win over the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Sunday afternoon before a small crowd at the Hershey Centre.
The win improved Sarnia’s record to 13-3-1-3 in the Ontario Hockey League and snapped a two-game winless skid.
The Sting built up a 3-0 lead after two periods before fighting off a Majors comeback bid in the third period.
“I was looking at the stats last week so I knew about the game winners,” said DeAngelo, who turned 16 less than a month ago. “As long as the team wins it doesn’t matter who scores the goals.”
DeAngelo admits he likes to score goals. But sometimes as a defenceman he gets caught out of position.
“I had an all-around bad game in Owen Sound so the coach pointed out a few things to me at practice yesterday. He told me to keep things simple and that’s what I tried to do today.”
DeAngelo added, “We dominated the first and second periods, but they came back and made a game of it in the third period. But it was a good job by us overall to win on the road.”
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu knows he has to be patient with his gifted rookie rearguard.
“He was better today than on Friday. He didn’t have a good game in Owen Sound. We challenged him at practice and he bounced back today with a solid effort.”
Beaulieu said the entire team had a much better effort than Friday night.
“The big thing was our work ethic. We really stressed at practice Saturday if we were 25 per cent better in that department we would be successful. We had good jump in the first and second periods and worked hard.”
He added, “We gave up a couple of power play goals in the third period and that’s unusual. But overall defensively we played well. We chipped pucks out when we had to and forechecked very well.”
Beaulieu singled out Brett Ritchie and Craig Hottot for superior performances.
“Ritchie hit everything in sight and was probably our best player. Hottot played well in all three zones. Craig has good eyes and good hockey sense. He protects the puck so well as evidenced on our last goal.”
Nail Yakupov led the Sting offence with a goal and two assists. It was his first goal in four games and first points in three games.
“Yakie needed a goal to get that monkey off his back. You could see after that goal he had a lot of jump. He was skating and making plays,” Beaulieu said.
The Sting came out strong in the opening period and was rewarded with the game’s opening goal at the 4:28.Yakupov took a pass in the slot from Brett Thompson and he rifled a hard slapshot past Majors goalie Spencer Martin.
It was Yakupov’s 13th goal of the season.
Sarnia had several glorious scoring opportunities before the 10-minute mark as they outshot the Majors 10-1 to that point, but were unable to beat Martin.
The Sting took a 2-0 lead at 3:16 of period two while enjoying a two-man advantage. Hottot took a pass from Yakupov in the slot and made no mistake with a snapshot. It was Hottot’s ninth goal of the year.
DeAngelo put Sarnia up 3-0 at 17:02 with his third goal of the season. After taking a pass from Charlie Sarault, DeAngelo showed great patience with the puck as he moved right in and fired a wrist shot into the top corner of the net.
The Sting allowed just four St. Michael’s shots on goal in the second stanza. Two of them were from point blank range and Maxwell made two nice pad saves.
St. Michael’s got back in the game in the third period with a pair of power play goals.
Dylan DeMelo got the first at 2:32 on a high slapshot from the point as Maxwell was screened on the play. Jamie Wise closed the gap to 3-2 at 10:27 when he tapped a rebound out of the air into the net from close range.
A minute later the Majors, while shorthanded, almost tied the game when Stuart Percy rattled a shot off the post on a two-on-one break.
Sarnia regained their two-goal cushion at 14:05 when Ritchie banged home a centering pass from Hottot. For Ritchie it was his sixth of the season.
Sarnia finished with a 33-20 edge in shots on goal. Maxwell notched his 11th win of the year between the pipes for Sarnia.
The Sting returns home this week for a pair of games at the RBC Centre. They host the Kitchener Rangers on Thursday night and the Saginaw Spirit Friday night. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. Sarnia plays at Saginaw on Saturday night.
Tickets for both home games this week can be obtained by calling the RBC Box Office at 519-541-1717 or be going online at Sarniasting.com
– Yakupov was first star with Riley Brace of the Majors second star (two assists), and Hottot, with a goal and an assist third star.
– Sarnia was one-for-five on the power play and St. Michael’s two-for-six.
– The Sting is now 8-0-0-0 when leading after two periods. They also improved to 6-2-0-1 at home.
– RDS, the French version of TSN, was in attendance doing a feature on Yakupov.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.