By Carl Chimenti
Marcus Limpar-Lantz third period goal was the game winner as the Sarnia Sting (38-17-5-4) over-came a tough second period to beat the Kingston Frontenacs (25-36-1-2) 4-3 Saturday night, in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,255, at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
Before the game the Sarnia Sting honored the great radio voice of the Sting, Leigh Cunningham, with a very nice pre-game ceremony as he was set to broadcast his milestone 1,500 OHL game. The Sarnia, Ontario native listened as he was saluted by long time voice of the Toronto Maple Leafs Joe Bowen, who congratulated Cunningham on his milestone achievement. Cunningham then went on to thank all the people who helped make this possible.
Limpar-Lantz (15th) game winning goal came early in the third period at 2:31 and the Sting completely shut-down the Frontenacs from there, limiting Kingston to only two shots on net. Easton Wainwright and Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers) assisted on the game winner.
Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators) became just the second player to reach the fifty Goal plateau this season with an early first period goal and trails Matthew Maggio of the Windsor Spitfires, who leads the OHL with 51. The goal came on the power-play and was the Peterborough, Ontario native, 23rd goal with the man-advantage, tops in the OHL.
The milestone goal puts Burke in some great company, as he became just the fourth player to score 50 or more goals and the fifth time it has been done in Sarnia Sting history. Jonathan Sim actually achieved the feat twice scoring 56 in back-to-back seasons during the 1995-96 and 1996-97 campaign. Burke is the first Sting player to score 50 since Steven Stamkos last did it during the 2007-08 season.
The Win which extended the Sarnia unbeaten streak to an OHL high of 15 games and keeps the Sting mathematically in the hunt to finish first or second in the Western Conference. Sarnia can finish no lower than third this season, for the all-important home ice advantage in the first round of the post-season, which is awarded to the top four teams in each conference.
Luca Del Bel Belluz (Columbus Blue Jackets) was named first of the game scoring a goal and an assist. Burke was selected as the third star with his milestone goal. Cooper Way also scored for the Sting.
Wainwright, Fischer, Vilmanis, Marko Sikic, Ethan Del Mastro (Chicago Black Hawks) and Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) contributed one assist. Del Mastro’s assist ran his point streak to seven games (1-11-12). Voit’s helper now has him at 98 points this season.
Christian Kyrou (Dallas Stars) also reached a milestone, as he played in his 150th OHL career game tonight.
Nicholas Surzycia picked up his 15th win of the season as he turned aside 19 of 22 shots for the Sting. Sarnia out-shot Kingston in the game 37-22.
Both Sarnia and Kingston went 1/3 on the power-play.
In a first period that saw both teams battle to a 1-1 tie it was a huge moment for Burke and the Sarnia Sting organization. Sarnia was assessed a power-play early on and Burke wasted no time as he scored his
50th goal at 3:42. Del Mastro sent a pass from the blue-line to Del Bel Belluz and he found Burke who scored the milestone goal for a 1-0 lead. Jacob Battaglia tied the game with a power-play goal at 13:55 from Ian Lemieux and Ethan Miedema. Sarnia out-shot Kingston 18-12.
It was a strange second period in which Sarnia seemed to be in full control scoring twice to take a 3-1 lead on goals from Del Bel Belluz, who scored his 39th goal of the season from Sikic and Fischer at 5:40 and Way netting his 14th of the year from Del Mastro at 7:07.
The game then took a dramatic turn late in the middle period. The Sting were on the move in the Kingston end on a delayed penalty call that saw Ethan Ritchie score against his former team in what looked to be the fourth goal for Sarnia. The Frontenacs decided to challenge the goal for goaltending interference. After a short delay, the goal was disallowed but the penalty for hooking stood and Sarnia went on the power-play. From there everything went downhill and for the second time this season Sarnia allowed two shorthanded goals on the same man-advantage.
Alec Belanger scored at 18:46 and Maddox Callens scored the tying goal 56 seconds later at 19:42 and the two teams skated off the ice tied at 3-3 after forty minutes. The Sting had the 9-8 edge on the shot clock.