The Sarnia Sting and Erie Otters were involved in a rare penalty-free game Friday night at the RBC Centre.
But aside from that, the Sting would probably like to forget everything else than happened.
The Otters ended a 13-game losing streak skating to a 7-3 victory over the Sting in front of 3,034 stunned fans.
The victory was only the fourth all season for the Otters in the Ontario Hockey League and just their second on the road in 13 attempts.
“It was a poor effort,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “We didn’t play hard. But we have to let it go. Tomorrow is another day.”
The Sting scored the game’s opening goal just over four minutes into the first period. But it was all Erie after that.
The Otters led 2-1 after one period and 4-2 after 40 minutes.
Any chance of a Sting comeback ended early in the third period when Erie scored their fifth and sixth goals before the five-minute mark of period three.
Both teams went into the game with 16 skaters each. The latest Sting player to hit the injury list is first round draft pick Ryan Kujawinski. He suffered a knee injury against Sault Ste. Marie and is out indefinitely.
The Sting hopes Kujawinski will be able to play in the World Under-17 Tournament in Windsor later this month.
Still sidelined with injuries are Nail Yakupov, Brett Ritchie and Alex Basso. Forward Nick Latta has gone to Germany to play for Germany in the B pool of the world junior hockey championships.
Forward Ludvig Rensfeldt of the Sting leaves Saturday to join Team Sweden for the upcoming world junior tournament in Alberta later this month.
On a positive note defenceman Connor Murphy played his first game in a Sting uniform. He had knee surgery back in August and has not played a game.
“It was fun until we started losing,” said Murphy. “The loss hurts. It’s a team we were supposed to beat.”
Murphy added, “My conditioning was good. I’ve been working hard with coach Letowski and coach Galchenyuk on my skating to get ready to play. My timing was off. My passes and breakouts were a little off. I got some shots through offensively. But I need to do better in keeping the puck out of our net.”
Beaulieu liked what he saw with Murphy. “He looked okay. It’s going to take a bit to get his legs. It’s December and he’s three months behind everybody else. That’s pretty tough, but all in all, not too bad.”
Murphy notched his first career OHL point on Craig Hottot’s goal in the first period. Hottot had a pair of goals for Sarnia; giving him 12 on the season while Domenic Alberga had a goal, his fourth, along with one assist.
Two rookies, Travis Wood and Jake Evans led the Otters attack with two goals apiece while Stephen Harper, Greg McKegg and Connor Brown counted singles.
Erie held a 36-33 edge in shots on goal with Ramis Sadikov the winning goalie. Brandon Hope started in goal for Sarnia, but was lifted after Erie’s third goal early in the second period. Hope allowed three goals on 15 shots. Brandon Maxwell finished.
The Sting play Saturday night in Plymouth against the Whalers before returning home to host the Peterborough Petes on Sunday beginning at 2:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
“We have to watch some tape, point out our mistakes and get prepared for our next game,” said Beaulieu, when asked about going into Plymouth to battle the first place Whalers with another depleted lineup.
As for the penalty-free game, Beaulieu said, “I’ve never been involved in one before. I think there were penalties out there, but the officials chose not to call them.”
– All three stars were from Erie and all three are 16 year-olds. Hottot was the Dickies hardest working player for the Sting.
– Sarnia’s home record is now 9-4-1-3.
– Nathan Mater, called up from the Sarnia Legionnaires, recorded his first career OHL point, assisting on Hottot’s second goal.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting game both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.