Sting drops to Guelph in Sleeman Centre, returns to RBC tonight to face Windsor Spitfires

GUELPH – There’s something about the Sleeman Centre that just doesn’t agree with the Sarnia Sting.
Over the past five years Sarnia has played here 11 times and has just three victories.
Their eighth defeat over that span came Friday night when they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Guelph Storm in front of 3,978 fans on Teddy Bear Toss Night.
The loss was Sarnia’s second in as many games and they have slipped back to the .500 record 13-13-3-1 in the Ontario Hockey League. With the win Guelph pulled even with Sarnia in the Western Conference standings with the identical record.
Sarnia is now 0-2 against Guelph this season after going winless in four games a year ago.
Sting head coach Dave MacQueen didn’t pull any punches when asked about his team’s performance.
“Too many passengers. And when you look at our best players compared to their best players, their players were better. We are not going to win when that happens. I’m not laying all the blame on just them, but we didn’t have any secondary help.”
He added, “when we are bad, we are bad. If it wasn’t for our goalie the game would have been over in the first 10 minutes. He kept us in the game right to the end. Even in the third period when we put on a bit of a push, he was still making big stops for us.”
John Cullen was peppered with 42 shots in the Sting goal. Sarnia held only 24 on Brandon Foote.
When asked if the Sting missed too many scoring chances, MacQueen replied, “when you only have four scoring chances in 40 minutes, you haven’t missed too many. Heck it took us 10 minutes to get a shot on goal. But we were bailing out far too much along the boards.”
He concluded by saying, “I thought when we scored the first goal it would give us some jump and some energy. But they came back, bang, bang bang. There were just too many missed assignments.”
The first period was scoreless even though Guelph had a 9-6 edge in shots on goal and had the better scoring opportunities. Sting goalie John Cullen stopped Guelph’s Sam Lofquist on a clear-cut breakaway late in the period.
Sarnia opened the scoring four minutes into period two on a power play when Brett Ritchie knocked in a rebound after a point shot from Alex Galchenyuk. It was Ritchie’s ninth goal of the season.
But the Storm tied the game two minutes later when Richard Panik took a drop pass in the slot area and snapped a quick shot into the top corner.
That goal seemed to switch the momentum in Guelph’s favour and the Storm went up 2-1 three minutes later when Scott Kosmachuk banged home a centering pass after a Sting giveaway in their own zone.
Sarnia had a great chance to tie the game on a power play with several glorious scoring chances, but was unable to beat Storm goalie Brandon Foote.
Those missed chances would come back to haunt the Sting as at 18:07 Guelph extended their lead to 3-1 when Taylor Beck’s sharp angle shot changed directions and went past Cullen. The goal came just seconds after Sarnia had killed off a penalty.
The Sting had some chances early in the third period, but had trouble finding the net.
Guelph put the game on ice with three minutes to play when Tyler Carroll scored on a power play.
The Sting was missing four regulars due to injuries and suspensions. Injured are two veteran defencemen in Joe Rogalski (concussion) and Brent Sullivan (whiplash). Both injuries happened Sunday in Brampton.
Rookie forward Nick Latta also suffered a slight shoulder injury in Brampton while Dean Pawlaczyk was handed a two-game suspension by the league this week for his part in a fight against Niagara last week.
Veteran defenceman Anthony Donati was back in the Sting lineup after missing nine games with a knee injury. He hurt the knee Nov. 13th in Belleville.
There was a pair of call-ups from the Sarnia Legionnaires junior B team. Forward Braden Kavaratzis and defenceman Josh Chapman are both draft picks of the team.
Sarnia finished one-for-seven on the power play and Guelph one-for-eight.
The Sting return home Saturday night to battle the defending Memorial Cup champion Windsor Spitfires beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. It’s the third of six meetings between the two clubs. Sarnia won the season opener 4-0 at home and lost 5-3 in Windsor in October.
After Saturday night Sarnia has just two games remaining before the Christmas break as they host Kitchener on Dec. 16th and Sault Ste. Marie on Dec. 18th.
STING NOTES
–            CTV Sportsnet announced their Canadian Hockey League television schedule earlier this week. Sarnia will be on once, Jan. 28th in Guelph beginning at 7 p.m. It’s the first time Sarnia has been on Sportsnet since Steven Stamkos played for the Sting.
–            Tonight’s buffet at Coyote Jack’s Restaurant inside the RBC Centre is deemed a fan favourite. It includes tender roast beef, oven roasted potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, a chef’s choice of veggies, a selection of salads, soup of the day and a dessert table. Reservations came by made by calling 519-541-1000, Extension 109.
–            Beginning with tonight’s game against Windsor, Sarnia will play 12 of their next 15 games on home ice.
–            Former Sting goalie Peter DiSalvo was dealt to the Oshawa Generals from the Barrie Colts this week in exchange for a fifth round draft pick in 2012. DiSalvo is in his fifth and final season in the OHL. He was originally a second round draft pick of the Sting.
–            One of the new assistant coaches for Guelph this season is former NHLer Scott Walker.
–            -Sarnia’s road record is now 5-8-3-0.
–            One of the referees in last night’s game was from the Western Hockey League.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting
Website.

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