By Carl Chimenti
The Sarnia Sting dream season came to an end in front of a sold-out crowd, Sunday afternoon, at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena, losing to the London Knights in game six of the Western Conference championship series 5-1.
After the game the Sarnia faithful gave the team a long-standing ovation for the wonderful season they put together, the ovation lasted for quite some time and was well deserved.
Captain Nolan Dillingham, Ethan Ritchie and Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators) played in their final Ontario Hockey League game, finishing their Major Junior hockey careers with the Sarnia Sting, in a season that won’t soon be forgotten.
The Sting came into the final period trailing 3-1, but they never gave up, fighting until the very end, the way they did all season long.
The three starts featured two Sting players, Burke was named the first star of the game and Marcus Limpar-Lantz, who scored the lone goal for the Sting was selected as the second star. London goaltender Zach Bowen was the third star after stopping 23 of 24 shots.
Easton Cowan, Denver Barkey, and Ryan Winterton (Seattle Kraken), each had a goal and an assist to pace the Knights. Sean McGurn chipped in with a pair of assists.
Goaltender Ben Gaudreau stood tall in net until a late injury in the last four minutes forced him out of the game. He stopped 20 0f 24 shots. Nicholas Surzycia came in relief and played the final 3:17 of the game but he did not face any shots on net.
London out-shot Sarnia by a slim margin of 25-24. The Knights scored one power-play goal in two chances, while the Sting went 0/3, with the man advantage.
London scored three times in the third period to put the game on ice.
The first period was fast paced with both teams scoring once. Sarnia took a 1-0 lead at 12:08. Del Mastro cycled the puck behind the Knights net and came out with a short pass to Limpar-Lantz and he managed to put the puck behind Bowen for his fifth of the post-season. Near the end of the opening period the Knights were called for a slash, but Sarnia failed to score on the only power-play opportunity of the period. London gained some traction afterwards as McGurn came out of the penalty box and sent the puck in front where it came to Barkey and he scored with one second left on the clock at 19:59 to tie the game.
London scored twice in the second period to grab a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Cowan scored early at 2:30 from Winterton, with what proved to be the winning goal. The second goal came at 15:04, as Mailloux scored on the power-play, his sixth of the playoffs, from Barkey and Cowan. Both teams had nine shots on goal. There was one fight in the period as Sarnia’s Lukas Fischer and London’s Landon Sim tangled at 13:40.