By DAVE BORODY
SAULT STE. MARIE – The Sarnia Sting got a glimpse of why the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are now tough to play against in their own building.
The Greyhounds scored three goals in the first period and coasted to an 8-0 win over the Sting, Wednesday night before a near capacity crowd of 4,508 fans at the Essar Centre.
In their last 11 home games dating back to early December, Sault Ste. Marie has an impressive 10-0-0-1 on home ice.
A couple of power play goals before the game was six minutes old were all Sault Ste. Marie needed. They dominated from start to finish as they held a 6-0 advantage after two periods.
Sting coach Jacques Beaulieu said games like this are going to happen with a young squad.
“When you have a young team like we do, games like this are going to happen. You don’t want them to, but that’s what happens in junior hockey. Yes, they are hard to digest, but we have to turn the page. Tomorrow is another day.”
He added, “It’s hard to find any positives in a game like that. We got off to a slow start giving up those two power play goals. Those really killed us. At this point of the season we need to have a positive outlook. We’ll show some video and get ready for Windsor Friday night.”
Matt Murray turned aside 25 shots to record the shutout for the Greyhounds, but he wasn’t even a star in the game.
The Greyhounds peppered two Sting goalies with 49 shots. J.P. Anderson started in goal for Sarnia. He allowed four goals on 23 shots before giving way to rookie Knick Dawe at 2:36 of the second period.
Andrew Fritsch led the Greyhounds offence with four goals and one assist. Nick Halagian had a pair of goals while David Broll and Tyler Gaudet notched singles.
Nick Cousins chipped in with four assists to take over the Ontario Hockey League scoring lead with 88 points, three ahead of Sarnia’s Charlie Sarault.
Sault Ste. Marie finished two-for-five with the man advantage. Sarnia was zero-for-four, but two of those were less than a minute. All four power plays came in the third period.
It marked only the second time all season the Sting has been shutout. They lost 5-0 in Kitchener back in November.
The loss puts Sarnia in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, one point back of the Greyhounds. The Sting remains five points up on eighth place Saginaw who lost 5-1 at home to Plymouth. (Saginaw has a game in hand on the Sting).
Next action for the Sting is Friday night when they travel to Windsor to battle the Spitfires.
“It won’t be easy,” said Beaulieu. “They are fighting for their playoff lives and really need the two points bad. It’s a Sportsnet game. We need to be sharp and play like we did last weekend.”
Sarnia’s next home game is Saturday when they host Justice Dundas and the Oshawa Generals beginning at 7:05 p.m. at the RBC Centre. Of the 13 games remaining, eight will be at the RBC Centre.
Tickets for that game and all remaining home games for the Sting are on sale daily at the RBC Box Office, by calling 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
– Sarnia is now 3-4 against the Greyhounds this season. They play one more time next Thursday at the RBC Centre.
– The Sting’s overall record fell to 30-22-0-3 while their road record is now 16-12-0-1.
– Fritsch was first star with Halagian second star and Cousins third star.
– Sarnia played one player under the limit of 20.
– Newly signed Ryan Venramin skated with the team Wednesday morning. The 13th round pick of 2012 has 47 goals in 34 games as a member of the Sault Ste. Marie North Stars major midget team.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.