The winning streak is over for the Sarnia Sting.
The Sting had their seven-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt as the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds posted a 5-2 victory in front of 3,210 fans Thursday night at the RBC Centre.
The loss, Sarnia’s first in the month of October, leaves them with an 8-2-0-1 record in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Greyhounds scored in the opening minute of never looked back as they led 2-0 after one period and 3-2 after 40 minutes before putting the game away with a pair of goals in the third period.
Sault Ste. Marie outplayed the Sting from start to finish and held a 34-23 edge in shots on goal, including 17-4 in the opening period.
“We are going to have games like that,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “The guys we not very efficient. We weren’t sharp right from the first shift. We played selfish.”
He added, “We weren’t in the game for the entire 60 minutes. Even when we got those two goals in the second period to tie the game, it still felt like we were behind.”
Beaulieu said he couldn’t take anything away from the Greyhounds.
“They are a big team. They move the puck well. They have an experienced defence. They are a good hockey club.”
Ex-Sting Brandon Alderson got the Greyhounds rolling just 30 seconds into the game as he scored from close range after a Sting giveaway.
For the next 15 minutes Sault Ste. Marie peppered Sting goalie Brandon Maxwell with a number of point blank shots. Maxwell stopped a breakaway midway through the period.
The Greyhounds made it 2-0 at 18:30 when David Quesnele outmuscled the Sting for the puck along the sideboards and eventually slipped a low shot past Maxwell.
The Sting cut the lead to 2-1 at 11:07 of period two with a two-man advantage as Nail Yakupov notched his eighth of the year on a quick wrist shot from the slot. Maxwell gained an assist on the play.
Craig Hottot tied the game for Sarnia just over a minute later with his fifth of the year as his attempted centering pass went off a Greyhounds stick and past goalie Matt Murray.
Just when it appeared the Sting would get out of the period tied, Nick Cousins scored what proved to be the winning goal with 6.6 seconds left on the clock as he picked the top corner with a wrist shot on a two-on-one break.
“That goal really hurt us,” said Hottot. “We lost coverage in their end on a face-off and it resulted in an easy two-on-one break.”
Sarnia had a great chance early in period three on a power play when Ludvig Rensfeldt rang a shot off the crossbar from the point.
But just seconds after the penalty was over, Brett Findlay of the Greyhounds made it 4-2 at 7:55 when he was left alone in front of Maxwell.
The Greyhounds iced the game at 12:57 when Michael Schumacher scored with the Sting short two skaters. They were down two skaters after Domenic Alberga took a match penalty for slew-footing an opponent at the Sting blue line.
“It was a good call,” said Beaulieu, when asked about the call. “I looked at the video. It’s a minimum two-game suspension.”
Sarnia continues action Friday night when they travel to Kitchener to face the Rangers.
“We have to play the opposite of how we did tonight,” said Hottot, when asked about going to Kitchener. “We need to play like we did the seven games previous. This was one of the few times this season we got outshot. We need to get more shots on goal and drive the net.”
They return home Saturday night to host the Belleville Bulls. Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It is the only visit of the season for the Bulls to Sarnia.
– All three stars went to the Greyhounds with Cousins taking first star Alderson second star and Corey Durocher third star. Hottot was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game.
– Ex-Sting Joe Roglaski had one assist.
– Yakupov’s goal extended his points scoring streak to nine games in a row. During that stretch he has seven goals and 16 assists for 23 points.
– Sarnia was one-for-four on the power play and Sault Ste. Marie one-for-seven.
– Sarnia’s home record is 6-1-0-1 while Sault Ste. Marie is 3-3-0-0 on the road.
– The Sting is organizing a bus trip to Joe Louis Arena Nov. 30th to see the National Hockey League game between the Tampa Bay Lightning, (featuring ex-Sting star Steven Stamkos) and the Detroit Red Wings. The cost is $85 per person. The cost includes bus transportation and ticket to the game. Tickets are available at the RBC Box Office or by calling 519-541-1717.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and also does features for the Sting Website.