By Carl Chimenti
The Sarnia Sting (35-17-5-3) continued to stream roll towards the playoffs extending their unbeaten streak to eleven games (9-0-1-1), behind six different goal scorers, as they knocked off the Soo Greyhounds (18-29-9-6) 6-3 Friday night, in front of another large crowd of 3,837 at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
It was the first annual Indigenous Heritage Night, presented by Gen 7 Fuel Smokeys and the Sting delighted the faithful scoring two goals in the third period to break open a tight game and ending the season series beating the Greyhounds for the fifth time in the six games.
Ethan Ritchie (11th), Ethan Del Mastro (7th) (Chicago Black Hawks), Luca Del Bel Belluz (37th) (Columbus Blue Jackets), Sasha Pastujov (38th) (Anaheim Ducks), Nolan Burke (44th) (Nashville Predators) and Marcus Limpar-Lantz scored for the Sting.
Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins), Cooper Way and Marko Sikic, had two helpers each, while Captain Nolan Dillingham, Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Christian Kyrou, who signed his entry level contract with the Dallas Stars this week, all pitched in with an assist each. Kyrou ran his point streak to five games (2-8-10). For Voit, the assist was his 199th career OHL point (52-147-199).
In addition to his 44th goal which tied him for tenth on the all-time single season goal mark for the Sting, Burke also had an assist and was named first star. Burke’s two points extended his point streak to eleven games (13-7-20). Samuel Ivanov with 34 saves for the Soo was the second star and Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers), for his strong play down low was selected as the third star.
Sting goaltender Nicholas Surzycia, making his second start in a row, picked up his 14th win of the season against only 4 losses and was instrumental in the victory, especially in the third period with the game still in doubt, coming up with three excellent saves before Sarnia added the final two goals to clinch the win. In all Surzycia had 14 saves as the Sting out-shot the Greyhounds by a wide margin, 40-17.
There was only three minor penalties called in the game and the Soo scored the lone power-play goal.
In a first period that was dominated by Sarnia, the Sting skated off with the game tied 1-1 thanks to some outstanding goaltending by Ivanov. The Soo netminder made a number of terrific saves, including a great glove save just before the mid-way point on Burke from point blank range. The Greyhounds scored the first goal at 13:43 as Ryan Thompson found the back of the net from Christopher Brown. Sarnia managed to tie the game in the final minute. Kyrou made a terrific play to keep the puck in the Soo end and the puck came to Way and he left it for Ritchie and the overage defenseman ripped a shot that beat Ivanov for his 11th goal of the season at 19:25. The sting out-shot the Soo 12-3.
Sarnia scored the first three goals in the second period before the Soo mounted a comeback with two late goals. Del Mastro scored his seventh of the year early at 1:14 from Mast and Sikic. After receiving a pass from Mast, Del Mastro made a nice move around a Soo defender and scored on Ivanov, who had lost his goalie stick.
Pastujov appeared to score 39 seconds later, but the play went under review and was determined as no goal, due to an offside ruling. That did not stop Sarnia. Del Bel Belluz scored his 37th of the year at 8:34
from down low, pouncing on a rebound. Burke and Voit drew the assist. The score went to 4-1 as Pastujov scored his 38th from Sikic and Dillingham at 12:36.
The Greyhounds scored twice to cut the deficit to one goal entering the third period on goals from Marco Mignosa at 16:45 and a power-play goal off the stick of Bryce McConnell-Barker (New York Rangers) with eleven seconds left in the middle frame. Sarnia dominated on the shot-clock 13-6.