A hard-fought effort from the Sarnia Sting Sunday afternoon came up a little short.
The Sting dropped a 2-1 decision to the Plymouth Whalers in front of 3,002 fans at the RBC Centre.
Sarnia has lost six of their last seven games with their overall record now at 20-16-1-4.
Plymouth has been one of the hottest teams in the league over the past two months. They have won 11 of their last 12 games and sit in second place in the Western Conference, just two points back of London with a 28-9-2-1 mark.
Sarnia did not show any signs of playing their third game in two and a half days as they battled the Whalers right down to the wire.
“We out played them and our kids deserved a better fate,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “Their goalie, Scott Wedgewood is a heck of a goalie. He made some big saves. That’s why he was part of Team Canada. I thought we outchanced them and outplayed team.”
He added, “We played them tight the entire game. We needed to score some timely goals.”
Sarnia had to play against both Team Canada goalies in back-to-back games. Mark Visentin stopped 35 of 37 shots in leading the Niagara IceDogs to a 4-2 victory over the Sting Saturday night.
“We’ve had to play two good teams over the past two games,” said Beaulieu. “I expect both of them will finish at the top of their respective Conferences by the end of the season.”
Sarnia scored the only goal of period one on the power play at 10:14. Alex Basso drilled home a slapshot from the point with Brett Thompson and Charlie Sarault picking up assists. It was Basso’s fifth goal of the season.
The Sting lost forward Craig Hottot late in the period when he blocked a shot. Hottot limped to the bench and did not return with a lower body injury.
Plymouth tied the game with four minutes remaining in the second period when Alex Aleardi poked home a loose puck past Sting goalie J.P. Anderson.
Anderson then stopped Aleardi on a breakaway late in the period.
The Sting had a breakaway of their own early in period three when newcomer Tyler Brown skated in alone, but Wedgewood made the save.
What turned out to be the winning goal came at the five-minute mark when Mitchell Heard’s wrist shot from the slot area found the top corner of the net on Anderson’s glove side.
Sarnia then proceeded to enjoy eight minutes of power play time, including one with just over two minutes to play, but Plymouth’s defence allowed just six shots on Wedgewo
The Sting finished one-for-10 with the man advantage while Plymouth was zero-for-two.
Beaulieu says it’s tough putting power play units together right now.
“We’ve only had one practice together since all the trades so it makes it pretty tough to teach our systems. Add to that Ryan Spooner missed an entire month and then had to play three games in three days.”
Sarnia pulled their goalie in the final minute and had one great chance with less than 10 seconds, but Wedgewood closed the door.
Wedgewood finished with 28 saves on the night while Anderson made 20 stops.
Sarnia played against without star forward Nail Yakupov, out with a knee injury suffered in the goal medal game of the world juniors in Calgary on Thursday.
“He had a MRI down this afternoon at the Fowler Clinic in London and we will get the results tomorrow,” said Beaulieu.
The Sting will be home for a pair of games this weekend. They host the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors on Friday and the Kingston Frontenacs Saturday night. Both games begin at 7 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for both games are on sale daily at the RBC box office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
– Sunday’s game was the first of five straight home games for the Sting.
– Wedgewood was first star with Anderson second star and Heard third star. Basso was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game.
– Plymouth has won two of three games against the Sting this year. They still have three more games to go, including two at the RBC Centre.
– Sarnia lost for the first time this season when leading after one period. They went into the game with a 10-0-0-1 record.
– Sarnia’s home record dropped to 11-6-1-3.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features on the Sting Website.