Sting fall to Kitchener in valiant game

Sarnia Sting

“I’m disappointed we lost, but I’m not disappointed with the way we played.”
Those were the words of Sarnia Sting head coach Dave MacQueen after watching his team drop a 1-0 decision to the Kitchener Rangers Friday night before 6,470 enthusiastic fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
Brandon Maxwell kicked out all 34 shots he faced to record the shutout for Kitchener, his first this season. It marked the first time Sarnia has been shutout this year in the Ontario Hockey League.
Matching Maxwell in all but one shot was Sting netminder John Cullen who turn aside 36 of 37 shots he encountered.
“That was a heck of a hockey game,” continued MacQueen. “I’m not sure any team deserved to lose. There was great goaltending at both ends, both teams had excellent penalty-killing and both teams generated a ton of scoring chances.
There was great atmosphere in the building. It was just a great game to be involved in.”
He added, “I told the players after the game if you play like that all the time with their hearts on their sleeves, we are going to be a tough team to play against.”
Just over a minute into the game the Sting found themselves down two players for a minute and 45 seconds. But they did an outstanding job of killing off the penalties as they did not allow a Rangers shot on goal.
Sarnia’s best chance of the period came at the 12-minute mark when Kale Kerbashian rattled a high shot from the slot off the post. He also got a shot off on the rebound, but was thwarted by Maxwell.
The game’s first goal, and what turned out to be the only goal did not come until the 15:15 minute of the second period when Kitchener scored on a power play. Ryan Murphy drilled home a low slapshot from the blue line.
Cullen said he never saw the shot as he was screened.
Cullen kept his team behind only a goal a minute later when he robbed Matthew Tipoff of the Rangers from close range.
Maxwell made two splendid saves in the final minute of the period. He stopped Kerbashian on a partial breakaway and seconds later stoned Nail Yakupov on a goalmouth pass.
Early in the third period Maxwell stoned Alex Galchenyuk from close range. Later in the period Maxwell reached back on a shot from Kerbashian that appeared to be going into the net.
Sarnia had a power play for the final minute and 45 seconds, but could not get a shot on goal.
“That’s the first time we were pressured on the power play,” said Kerbashian. “We played a good game. We had our chances. They are a good team and we held them to one goal in their building. They were winning games a week ago by seven and eight goals.
“We did a lot of good things, but we didn’t get the two points. John Cullen played great for us. This is a fun building to play in.”
MacQueen said the scoring opportunities were there. “We had a ton of chances, but their goalie stopped everything. In the end one power play goal was the difference. But it certainly wasn’t a lack of effort on our part.”
MacQueen added, “Certainly there’s more positives than negatives. We played hard, we played physical and we blocked a ton of shots.”
Kitchener finished one-for-seven on the power play while Sarnia was zero-for-eight.
Sarnia will play their third game in four days Saturday night when they host the Oshawa Generals beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It will be the Generals lone appearance in Sarnia this season.
–      Maxwell was first star with Cullen second star and Jonathan Jasper of the Rangers third star.
–      Kitchener has only one regulation loss in 14 home games. Sarnia’s overall record fell to 11-11-3-0 while their road record is now 4-6-3-0.
–      Sarnia has now lost seven games by one goal.
–       Scratches for Sting were defencemen Anthony Donati (knee) and Ryan Zupancic (numbers).
–      Last night’s game was the first of four meetings between the Sting and Rangers. Their next game is Dec. 16th at the RBC Centre.
–      A proposal has been made by the Rangers to Kitchener city council to added 3,500 seats to the Kitchener Auditorium. The price tag is about $50 million. No date has been set for construction to begin.
–      Sting assistant coach Trevor Letowski recalled his final career OHL playoff game was at the Kitchener Auditorium. The Rangers defeated the Sting in game seven of their best of seven second round playoff series.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting

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