By Carl Chimenti
The Sarnia Sting (41-18-5-4) capped a wonderful regular season with another impressive win beating the Niagara IceDogs (12-47-8-1) 10-4, Sunday afternoon at the Meridian Centre.
In their final game of the regular season, Sarnia scored three in the first, four in the second and added three more in the third period.
With the regular season now in the rear-view mirror, the Sarnia Sting in partnership with Advanced Sound Solutions NDT, will open the Western Conference Quarter Finals this Friday (March 31st-7:05pm) at home, inside the Progressive Auto Sales Arena, against the Guelph Storm, with game two on Sunday afternoon (April 2nd) at 2:05pm.
Sasha Pastujov (Anaheim Ducks) led the way with a four-point game that included his 40th and 41st goals of the season and was selected as the first star of the game. Pastujov extended his point streak to four games and finished with 98 points this year. Easton Wainwright had two goals, number 12 and 13 and added an assist, while Zach Filak added a pair of goals, his 13th and 14th on the year. Cooper Way scored his 15th of the year and also had an assist. Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers) chipped in with two points that included his 20th goal of the season.
Christian Kyrou (Dallas Stars) scored his 20th of the year and Ethan Ritchie, in his last OHL regular season game for the Sting notched his 13th this season.
Marko Sikic, Tyson Doucette and Luca Del Bel Belluz (Columbus Blue Jackets) contributed three assists each and Marcus Limpar-Lantz, added a pair of helpers for the Sting. Sikic has points in six of his last seven games (3-5-8). Del Bel Belluz extended his point streak to ten games (6-16-22) and was named third star of the game.
Sean Doherty, Joshua Hoover and Mitch Young added one assist each to the scoring parade.
Sarnia goaltender Nicholas Surzycia numbers did not do him justice. He made several point-blank saves through-out this game to keep the Sting in control. He finished with 35 saves, as the IceDogs out-shot Sarnia 39-38.
Jacob LeBlanc scored two goals as part of a four-point effort for Niagara and was chosen as the second star.
Sarnia scored once in three chances on the power-play and Niagara went 3/5 with the man-advantage.
Sarnia scored three goals and had a fourth disallowed in the opening period as they out-shot Niagara 13-12. Way opened the scoring at 6:25 deflecting a point shot from Hoover in front. Forty seconds later, Filak put the Sting up 2-0 at 7:05. Doucette let go a shot and Filak was there to deposit the rebound in the net. Both Doucette and Way were credited with the assists. Sikic found the back of the net on the power-play moments later, but the goal was disallowed after a review, because the referee lost sight of the puck and blew an early whistle. That did not hinder the Sting as they immediately scored on that same power play from Pastujov who netted his 40th goal of the year. Pastujov received a cross ice pass from Del Bel Belluz and moved in on goal with a wrist shot that found paydirt. The goal came at 16:49 with Del Bel Belluz and Sikic assisting. Sarnia was one for two with the man-advantage.
In a wide open second period that saw both teams combine for seven goals, four by the Sting, the real story was Sarnia goaltender Surzycia, as he robbed Niagara with numerous ten-bell saves, including one late in the third period, with an unbelievable glove save on David Jesus, that had the over-ager looking to the heavens in disbelief and then coming over to Surzycia and giving him a stick tap for the nice save.
Wainwright, Vilmanis, Kyrou and Pastujov scored for the Sting while Jacob LeBlanc scored two power-play goals and Zakary Lavoie scored at even strength for the IceDogs. Sarnia headed to the dressing room after forty minutes leading 7-3, despite being out-shot 16-11.