Courtesy of the Sarnia Sting
BELLEVILLE –Rookie goalie Brandon Hope is going to remember his first shootout in the Ontario Hockey League for a long time.
Hope stopped all four shooters he faced to give the Sarnia Sting a much-needed 3-2 victory over the Belleville Bulls, Saturday night before 2,895 fans at the Yardman Arena.
Another Sting rookie, Alex Galachenyuk was the only player of eight shooters to score in the shootout. “I was a little nervous, for sure,” said Hope, when asked about his first-ever OHL shootout. “I just wanted to take one shot at a time. I knew if I could hold the fort at my end, my teammates would take care of the rest at the other end.”
Hope, who was named the game’s third star, added, “we came out a little slow again tonight, but my defence had my back many times. I was just happy we were able to get the two points.”
Sarnia went first in the shootout and Brandon Alderson, Nail Yakupov and Craig Hottot all failed to score. Same for the first three Bulls shooters.
Galchenyuk was next for the Sting and he made no mistake flipping a backhand over Bulls goalie Malcolm Suppan. (Suppan is the brother of Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Suppan).
Hope then stopped Michael Curtis of the Bulls with a fine glove save.
Sting Head Coach Dave MacQueen says Hope has a bright future in the OHL. “He was great in the shootout, but throughout the course of the game and especially in the last five minutes of regulation. They had us back on our heels, but he kept the puck out of our net and gave us a chance to win.”
MacQueen added, "This is always a tough building to play in with the big ice. They kept us to the outside and didn’t give us a lot of quality scoring chances. But we found a way to get two points.”
The win put Sarnia back to the .500 mark in the standings at 9-9-2-0. Sarnia got off to a quick start scoring on their first shot on the power play at 1:57. Brandon Alderson tipped home a point shot from Nathan Chiarlitti. It was Alderson’s sixth goal of the season.
But the Bulls tied the game at 4:39 when Adam Payerl was left alone in front of the Sting and he knocked home a passout past goalie Brandon Hope. Belleville took their first lead at 13:59 on a power play when Richard Panik wristed a shot from the faced-off circle over the shoulder of Hope.
Hope kept the Sting within a goal as he stopped Payerl on a breakaway with five minutes left in the period.Coach MacQueen juggled his lines in the second period in order to get more offence, but the Sting had few good scoring chances.
Sarnia could manage just four shots in the third period, but tied the game at 2-2 at 14:07 on Nail Yakupov’s 16th goal of the season. He burst in over the Bulls blue line and whistled a wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder. The goal was the first for Yakupov in three games.
Unfortunately the goal did not change the momentum in Sarnia’s favour as the Bulls controlled the play in the Sting zone late in the game, but were unable to get the puck past Hope.
The Sting had the only shot on goal in the five-minute overtime period. Sarnia had a power play for the final minute, but was unable to get a shot on goal.
Belleville finished with a 35-23 edge in shots on goal. Both teams finished one-for-six on the power play.
The Sting finished off their three-game road trip Sunday afternoon in Kingston against the Frontenacs. They return home for a pair of games this weekend as they host the Saginaw Spirit Friday night and Kingston on Saturday. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
– Brendan Gaunce of Belleville was first star while defenceman Brent Sullivan of the Sting was second star and Hope third star. Sullivan had a pair of assists.
– Sarnia lost defenceman Anthony Donati in the third period with a knee injury.
– Two Sting players are sporting new “Mohawk” haircuts. They include Jesse Stoughton and Dean Pawlaczyk.
– Ex-Sting defenceman Dalton Prout of the Barrie Colts received an eight-game suspension for a cross check on a Kingston player.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.