There was no comeback on this night for the Sarnia Sting.
The Sting dropped a 3-1 decision to the Kingston Frontenacs, Saturday night before 3,277 fans at the RBC Centre.
The loss dropped Sarnia back to the .500 level once again in the Ontario Hockey League at 10-10-3-0. The Sting also lost for the second time in a week to Kingston who won 6-5 in overtime last Sunday.
Sarnia ran into a hot goalie in Philip Grubauer who turned aside 36 of 37 shots he faced.
The line of Nathan Moon, Ryan Spooner and Corey Durocher did the damage for Kingston recording all seven scoring points. Moon had two goals, including the winner, and one assist, Durocher a goal and an assist and Spooner two assists.
Kale Kerbashian scored the lone Sarnia goal, his 14th of the season.
“We weren’t that bad,” said Kerbashian. “We had our ups and downs in the game. They are a strong offensive team and not easy to shut down. This was the second game in a row we had only a couple of power plays. The referees seem to be going back to the old rules.”
Kerbashian feels the Sting is better than a .500 team.
“We need to learn how to win a few in a row. We have a good group of guys who believe in ourselves, but we need to get that confidence level up to string some wins together.”
The Sting found themselves behind 1-0 eight minutes into the game when Durocher put the Frontenacs ahead. Sting goalie John Cullen attempted a poke check, but the puck deflected off Durocher’s skate and into the net.
Sarnia tied the game in the final minute of period one when Kerbashian knocked in a loose puck in the crease after Grubauer couldn’t handle Alex Galchenyuk’s shot.
The only goal of period two turned out to be the game winner. It came at 5:14 on an innocent –looking shot from Moon along the ice from the left side that seemed to fool Cullen.
Moon put the team up 3-1 five minutes into period three as he used a teammate as a decoy on a two-on-one break and he snapped a shot over the shoulder of Cullen.
The Sting held a 13-8 advantage in shots on goal in the third period and had some good scoring chances, but Grubauer turned them all away. Galchenyuk rattled a shot off the post with just over a minute remaining with Cullen on the bench for an extra attacker.
“We didn’t play a bad game,” said Sting head coach Dave MacQueen. “That is a real good hockey team and are picked to contend on their side. They play a high-octane game. We did a decent job defensively.
“We also generated a lot of scoring chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net. We had close to 40 shots, but their goalie was hot and made the difference. A lot of our shots hit him right in the crest of his sweater. Obviously that second goal we allowed hurt us.”
He added, “at the end of the day we weren’t happy because it’s a game we have to win.”
MacQueen admitted falling behind in games is not good.
“You have to take a few more chances when behind. There was still a good feeling on the bench knowing we can come back. But you can’t consistently fall behind against good teams and expect to win, especially when their goalie is on his game.”
MacQueen again juggled his lines throughout the game.
“I was just trying to find a spark. There were three or four guys who were passengers tonight. They know who they are. We were just trying to find some offence from anybody. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Sarnia finished with a 37-27 edge in shots on goal.
The Sting now prepares for a busy week ahead. They play at Owen Sound Wednesday night, are in Kitchener Friday night before returning home to take on the Oshawa Generals Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. at the RBCCentre.
– Moon was first star with Grubauer second star and Kerbashian third star.
– Each team had only two power play chances.
– Sarnia’s top scorer Nail Yakupov was held off the scoresheet for one of the few times this season.
– Sarnia is now 7-5-0-0 on home ice while Kingston improved to 8-4-0-0 on the road.
– The crowd was one of the largest this season.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting home games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.