Without its top player, the Sarnia Sting managed to work its way back into its Western Conference quarter-final series with the Soo Greyhounds.
After dropping the opening two games at home over the weekend, the Sting recovered to beat the Greyhounds 5-2 on Tuesday night at the Essar Centre and now trails the first round Ontario Hockey League playoff series 2-1.
For the Greyhounds work ethic, or lack thereof, was an issue in the loss.
“I didn’t think we worked like we usually do and that drives our game,” said Greyhounds Coach Drew Bannister. “That was the difference for us. They won a lot of battles for pucks. Give them credit, they came to work and I didn’t feel our guys worked hard enough. It wasn’t consistent enough to win a hockey game.”
Blake Speers, and Frankie Pucci completed the Greyhounds scoring.
Bannister credited the Sting for making things difficult on the home team offensively.
“We didn’t generate any offensive zone time,” said Bannister. “They did a good job closing on us and getting their bodies and sticks in shooting lanes. They killed a lot of plays. And we were a step behind in making our decisions, giving them the opportunity to close on us.”
Pavel Zacha paced the Sting with a goal and three assists in the win. Matt Mistele scored a pair of goals while Brandon Lindberg and Patrick White also scored.
“We played with a lot of desperation,” said Sarnia Coach Derian Hatcher. “Considering we were down 2-0 in the series, the players felt really good about themselves. They still truly believed. We’re still down 2-1 here but that was a huge game for us.”
Both coaches agreed that special teams was a difference in the game.
After scoring three power play goals in the opener and another in game two, Sarnia went 3-for-7 on the power play and also scored a shorthanded goal on Tuesday.
“At the end of the day special teams won the game,” Hatcher said.
Bannister called the Greyhounds discipline “terrible.”
“Discipline was terrible,” Bannister said. “When do we ever take seven penalties? That’s unacceptable for our group that doesn’t take many penalties. We’ve been stressing that since day one.”
After struggling in the opening two games, Charlie Graham made 23 saves for the Sting.
“He made some huge saves late,” Hatcher said. “He knows he didn’t play his best (in the first two games). Hopefully this gets his confidence up.”
For the Sting, Hatcher said confidence coming into game three was still high as the team won all three games at the Essar Centre in the regular season.
“We’ve been good on the road and we’ve been good in this building,” Hatcher said. “Out of the nine periods we had here (in the regular season), we had eight really good ones. I thought we played three really good period (Tuesday).”
Hatcher also said that high-scoring forward Travis Konecny, who missed the game with an “upper body” injury, is in Philadelphia being treated. The Flyers draft pick was injured in game two and Hatcher said he will not play in game four. He is expected to be back with the team on the weekend but his playing status for game five isn’t known.
Game four is set for Thursday night at the Essar Centre. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. Game five is in Sarnia on Saturday night.
In Ottawa, Nathan Todd has two goals and an assist to lead the Ottawa 67’s to a 4-2 win over the Niagara IceDogs. Artur Tyanulin chipped in with a goal and two assists while Travis Barron assisted on three goals. Stepan Falkovsky also scored for Ottawa. Vince Dunn and Ryan Mantha scored for Niagara. Josh Ho-Sang assisted on both Niagara goals.
In Owen Sound, Matthew Tkachuk had a pair of goals as the London Knights beat the Owen Sound Attack 5-1. Mitchell Marner chipped in with two goals and an assist. Goaltender Tyler Parsons made 38 saves for the Knights, who take a 2-1 series lead. Aaron Berisha had the other London goal. Damir Sharipzyanov scored for Owen Sound.
In Windsor, the Kitchener Rangers took a 3-0 series lead over the Windsor Spitfires thanks to a 2-1 victory. Brandon Robinson scored the game-winning goal with 1:26 left in regulation time. Jeremy Bracco had a goal and an assist while Ryan MacInnis assisted on both goals for the Rangers. Aaron Luchuk had the lone Windsor goal.
In Barrie, Jack Flinn made 36 saves as the Mississauga Steelheads evened its Eastern Conference quarter-final series at one with a 6-3 win over the Barrie Colts. The Steelheads scored six times in the third period. Alexander Nylander scored three times and assisted on another goal. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda and Everett Clark had a goal and an assist each for the Steelheads. Mason Marchment also scored for Mississauga. Anthony Stefano,, Justin Scott and Rasmus Andersson scored for the Colts.
In Mississauga, Josh Burnside scored 2:49 into the second overtime period to give the Mississauga Steelheads a 2-1 series lead over the Barrie Colts thanks to a 4-3 victory. Daniel Muzito-Bagenda had two goals and an assist for Mississauga while Burnside and Alexander Nylander had a goal and an assist each. Justin Scott scored twice for Barrie. Kevin Labanc chipped in with a goal and an assist.
In Oshawa, the Kingston Frontenacs took a 3-0 series lead with a 5-4 win over the Oshawa Generals. Michael Dal Colle s cored the game-winning goal at 19:36 of the third period. Dal Colle finished the night with two goals and two assists while Spencer Watson assisted on three goals. Roland McKeown had a goal and three assists for Kingston. Warren Foegele and Jason Robertson had the other Kingston goals. Anthony Cirelli had a goal and an assist for Oshawa while Jalen Smereck assisted on two goals. Domenic Commisso, Joe Manchurek and Mitchell Vande Sompel also scored for the Generals.
In Saginaw, Alex DeBrincat had two goals and an assist to lead the Erie Otters to a 6-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit. The Otters now hold a 3-0 series lead on Saginaw. Dylan Strome had a goal and two assists for Erie. Darren Raddysh also assisted on two goals. Christian Girhiny, Kyle Maksimovich and Taylor Raddysh also scored for Erie. Connor Brown, Mitchell Stephens and Mike Davies scored for Saginaw.
In Peterborough, Jonathan Ang scored at 4:46 of overtime to give the Peterborough Petes a 7-6 win over the North Bay Battalion. Hunter Garlent had two goals and two assists for Peterborough, who took a 2-1 series lead with the win. Adam Timleck had a goal and two assists for the Petes while Josh Maguire and Daniel Nikandrov had a goal and an assist each. Logan DeNoble also scored for the Petes. Eric Cornel assisted on two Peterborough goals. Mathew Santos scored three times for the Battalion. Mike Amadio chipped in with a goal and two assists. Steve Harland and Brett McKenzie also scored goals for North Bay. Kyle Wood assisted on five goals.