BARRIE – Shootouts have not been kind to the Sarnia Sting so far this season with only one victory in six tries.
Make that two wins in seven attempts.
Reid Boucher was the only one of six shooters to score in the shootout as the Sting edged the Barrie Colts 3-2, Thursday night before 3,763 fans at the Barrie Molson Centre.
The win avenged a Barrie shootout win over the Sting back in November in Sarnia.
But more important the victory kept Sarnia one point up on Owen Sound for fourth place in the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League. Owen Sound defeated Brampton 4-2. The Sting does hold two games in hand.
“I was going to shoot,” said Boucher, when asked about the shootout goal. I saw the goalie was playing deep when he stopped Craig Hottot and Ryan Spooner on their shots. I saw the bottom corner was open.”
At the other end of the rink Sting goalie J.P. Anderson stopped all three Barrie shooters.
“I try to get out on the shooters and adjust to their speed,” said Anderson, when asked about shootouts.
Anderson turned away 40 of 42 shots he faced and he was named the game’s first star.
“Being first star is always nice. I didn’t even know I was first star,” said Anderson. “It’s just icing on the cake because the most important thing was we got the two points.”
Anderson was a game time decision, as he was feeling a little under the weather.
“It actually started this morning when I was out for a game day skate. I had a bit of a migraine headache. But I felt okay by the warm-up.”
He added, “It was a pretty good game. It was good to get out to a lead. Unfortunately they crawled back in the third period, but we didn’t panic. We stayed the course and it was nice to win in the shootout.”
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu was pleased with Anderson’s performance.
“He plays a solid, sound technical game. He doesn’t move around a lot in goal. If he can improve on anything, it’s handling the puck, but he was very good tonight.”
Beaulieu liked the way his team performed.
“Winning in the shootout was good since we had won only once all year. The kids battled hard. We only made a couple of miscues to let them back into the game. Our penalty killing was outstanding.”
The game was the start of five straight on the road for the Sting.
“It good to start the weekend with a win especially with Owen Sound winning. We had to take care of business and we did. Barrie has a good hockey team. They play hard and have a good offence. They will be a good playoff team.”
The Sting played again without superstar Nail Yakupov. He was ineligible for the second game. He will be back in the lineup Saturday night in Sudbury. Sarnia also was without defenceman Craig Duininck with a foot injury.
Overage defenceman Adrian Robertson was back in the Sting lineup after missing two games with a concussion he sustained in Belleville last Saturday.
But Sarnia lost captain Nathan Chiarlitti late in the second period when he suffered an ankle injury.
“We aren’t sure how serious it is,” said Beaulieu. “It’s bad luck. We’ve faced adversity like this all season.”
Sarnia scored the only goal in period one at 16:34 when Reid Boucher notched his 23rdmarker of the season. Boucher took a pass from Ryan Spooner in the slot and rifled home a quick wrist shot past Colts goalie Mathias Niederberger.
Niederberger was coming off back-to-back shutouts and was OHL player of the week. It was the first goal he allowed in 154 minutes and 50 seconds.
After Niederberger stopped Tyler Brown of the Sting on a shorthanded breakaway early in period two, it was Sting goalie J.P. Anderson who stole the spotlight. Anderson made several outstanding saves, many from close range as the Colts peppered him with 20 shots.
But it was the Sting who scored the only goal of the second frame to go ahead 2-0 at 17:14.
Craig Hottot simply fired the puck at the net while in the corner. The puck hit Niederberger and deflected into the net. For Hottot, it was his 16th goal of the season.
The Sting appeared to be in control in the third period before Barrie tied the game with two goals in a span of a minute and 21 seconds.
Tanner Pearson scored at 13:58 when he whipped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Anderson. Ex-Sting Gregg Sutch tied the game when he stole the puck from a Sting defender and fired a quick shot past Anderson.
Barrie finished with a 42-41 edge in shots on goal. Each team was zero-for-four on the power play.
The Sting has a rare Friday off before returning to action Saturday night when they tangle with the Sudbury Wolves. Sarnia is at Sault Ste. Marie Sunday night.
Sarnia’s next home game is Monday, Feb. 20th when they host the London Knights beginning at 2 p.m. at the RBC Centre. Tickets for the game are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
– Anderson was first star with Boucher second star and Niederberger third star.
– Sarnia is now 20-0-0-1 when leading after two periods.
– Barrie forward Norm Ezekiel was handed a match penalty for slew footing in the opening period.
– Sarnia has now won three straight and are 11-12-0-2 on the road.
– The Sting had forward Daniel Nikandrov in the lineup for the second game in a row.
– Former Sting Todd Miller is in his second season as an assistant coach with the Colts. He is a former second round pick of the Sting.
– It was announced Thursday the Sting will be on Sportsnet again, March 16th when they play at London. (It is the second last game on the regular season).
– The Sting will be taking a fan bus to their game in Saginaw on Feb. 19th. Tickets are just $45, which includes transportation. Bus leaves at 4 p.m. and you must have a valid passport. Tickets are available at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Huston@sarniasting.com
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.