ERIE, Pa. – Craig Hottot is the latest hero for the Sarnia Sting.
Hottot (pictured right) scored the winning goal in a shootout to give the Sting a 3-2 win over the Erie Otters, Saturday night before 3,109 fans at the Tullio Arena.
The win was the second straight for the Sting who improved to 13-11-3-1 in the Ontario Hockey League. They also snapped the Otters five-game winning streak. Hottot calmly skated in and made one deke before backhanding the puck into the top corner of the net.
“That was actually my second move,” said Hottot after the game. “Earlier in the year I went to my forehand and missed so I figured I would try this one. I was lucky to get the puck upstairs.”
Alex Galchenyuk also scored for the Sting in the shootout to keep his record perfect in shootouts with three goals in three shots.
Goalie John Cullen, who was involved in his first shootout of the year, stopped two of three Erie shooters.
“That was a big win,” said Hottot. “We had a lot of chances early and probably should have had a bigger leader than two goals. But we took a couple of penalties and they scored a couple of goals and took the momentum away from us.They had us back on our heels, but we found a way to win.”
Sting head coach Dave MacQueen said he has seen that type of shot in the shootout. “Craig came over to me after he scored and told me he stole that move from Zac (MacQueen),” said the coach with a big smile. “It’s the same move. They don’t have a lot of room and I don’t know who they get the puck upstairs so quickly.”
MacQueen added, “it was a big two points. One point would have been good, but two is better. I thought both goalies were outstanding and both made a number of big stops. We were a little sloppy early, but were able to get out of the period scoreless.
“The second and third periods were back and forth. We got the lead and they fought back. I didn’t like taking a penalty with two minutes left in the third period, but we got out of it and got to the shootout.”
The first period was scoreless although the Sting held a 12-7 edge in shots on goal and had the better scoring opportunities. Otters goalie Ramis Sadikov made three point blank saves.
Sarnia opened the scoring at 1:37 of period two when Tyler Peters took a pass from Galchenyuk and made a nifty move from close range to slip a backhand past the goalie. It was his 12th goal of the year.
The Sting took a 2-0 lead at 11:41 on a power play when Kale Kerbashian scored his 18th goal of the season on a backhand. Sarnia had controlled the play in the Erie end for over a minute before scoring.
But the Otters cut the lead to one at 14:55 on a power play of their own when Greg McKegg knocked in a centering pass.
Cullen preserved the one-goal margin a minute later when he made an outstanding save sliding across his crease on an Otters two-on-one break.
But the Otters tied the game at 1:27 of period three with their second power play goal when Tyler Hostetter took a cross-ice pass and found an open corner.
Erie had an edge in play the rest of the period, but the Sting had one great chance with three minutes remaining as Peters was robbed by Sadikov from the slot on a passout.
Sarnia was forced to play the last minute and 47 seconds of the third period shorthanded.
Each team had only two shots apiece in the five-minute overtime period with neither side having a great scoring chance.
Sarnia finished with a 30-29 edge in shots on goal. Sarnia was one-for-four with the man advantage while Erie was two-for-six.
Sarnia’s next game is Sunday afternoon when they travel to Brampton to face the Battalion beginning at 2 p.m. The Sting play at Guelph on Friday before returning home Saturday to battle the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires. Game time is 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre.
– Kerbashian’s goal gives him 45 points (18 goals and 27 assists) and he is just three points behind OHL scoring leader Jason Akeson of Kitchener. Akeson was shutout in a 3-1 loss to Niagara Saturday night.
– Galachenyuk assisted on both goals and was the game’s third star.
– Sarnia played without forward Garrett Hooey, who is recovering from a slight concussion sustained last weekend against Oshawa, and defenceman Anthony Donati, who remains sidelined with a knee injury.
– Forward Dean Pawlaczyk played last night despite picking up a game misconduct for being the aggressor in a fight with Niagara. The Niagara player did not fight back meaning Pawlaczyk faces a hearing with the league next week and could face a lengthy suspension.
Ex-Sting Brett Appio was back in the Otters lineup after missing five games with a knee injury. He has played in only 19 of the team’s 30 games. He has three goals and one assist.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.