KINGSTON – The Sarnia Sting got a much-needed victory on Sunday afternoon.
Behind the solid performance of goalie Brandon Hope, the Sting skated to a 2-1 win over the Kingston Frontenacs in front of 2,276 fans at the K-Rock Centre.
The win ended a four game winless slide for the Sting as they improved to 24-19-1-5 in the Ontario Hockey League. They concluded their three-game Eastern Ontario road trip taking three out of a possible six points.
Even more important the win increased Sarnia’s lead to four points over Owen Sound in the battle for fourth place in the Western Conference. The Attack lost 3-1 at home to Ottawa.
“The kids laid it on the line today,” said Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu. “The effort was there and they played hard. We blocked a lot of shots.’
Beaulieu said it was nice to end the losing streak.
“Sometimes when you are on a losing streak you have to win those tight games to get your confidence back and that’s what he did today.”
He added, “I was happy with everyone today. Hope had a real good game while Connor Murphy probably played his best game ever in a Sting uniform.”
Murphy scored the first Sting goal and was named the game’s first star. He was pleased with the fact he was playing in front of family and friends, as his family owns a summer home in Kingston.
“It was nice to get a goal as I think they brought me good luck,” said Murphy. “But the win was even more important. We’ve been on a losing streak and things weren’t going our way. But today I thought we competed hard for pucks.”
He added, “Ending the losing streak is a big confidence builder.”
Hope allowed a goal early in the opening period and then shut the door after that. He stopped 27 of 28 shots he faced and was named third star.
Hope has played only two games in January, but is 2-0 and given up just two goals.
“Like I said earlier, whenever I get my chance to play, I have to be ready to give it my very best. And do what I need to in order to help the team win.”
Hope added, “This was a do or die game for us. We didn’t want to go winless this weekend. This was our best game of the weekend.. We forechecked well and kept the pressure in their end. We need to do that every night.”
Kingston scored their only goal of the game just over four minutes into period one when Cody Alcock banged home a centering pass. The goal came just seven seconds after a Sting penalty.
Sarnia found themselves short two players for a minute and 22 seconds late in the period, but allowed just one shot on Hope.
The Sting tied the game five minutes into period two on the power play when Murphy fired a low wrist shot between the legs of goalie Igor Bobkov. Alex Basso and Ryan Spooner drew assists on Murphy’s fourth goal of the year.
The winning goal came at 10:36 of period two when Domenic Alberga knocked in a rebound after a point shot from Anthony DeAngelo. Nail Yakupov also gained an assist on Alberga’s 12th goal of the year.
That was it for goals, but not for scoring chances. Both netminders, Hope and Bobkov came up with some solid stops the rest of the way. Hope made a point blank save off of ex-Sting Ryan Kujawinski in the opening minute of period three.
Sarnia finished with a 40-28 edge in shots on goal. It marked the third straight game Sarnia had 40 or more shots in a game.
The Sting finished one-for-four on the power play while Kingston was one-for-six.
A full lineup for the Sting lastest just two games as two players were injured in Saturday’s shootout loss to Belleville.
Defenceman Adrian Robertson took an elbow to the face early in the third period and suffered a concussion. He left the game and did not return. No penalty was called. Robertson is out indefinitely.
Another defenceman, Craig Duininck took a slapshot off the foot late in the third period. He also did not return to the game and was limping afterwards. He is listed as day-to-day.
Sarnia played with 19 skaters against Kingston, one under the limit, but did have six defencemen dressed.
Alex Galchenyuk, who has missed the entire season with a knee injury, began skating on his own in the last week. The target date to return to the lineup is March 1. He was injured in a pre-season game and had surgery in early November.
The Sting returns home Friday night when they host the Plymouth Whalers at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. Tickets for the game are on sale at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
After next Friday, the Sting will hit the road for five consecutive games, including a Northern Ontario road swing. Their next home game after Friday is not until Monday, Feb. 20th when they host the London Knights at 2 p.m. in the annual Family Day affair.
– Murphy was first star with Bobkov second star and Hope third star.
– Sarnia improved their road record to 10-12-0-2.
– The Sting is now 18-0-0-1 when leading after two periods.
– You can listen to Sting games, both home and away on Country 103.9 CHOK Radio.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.