The New Years tradition of the Sarnia Sting and their home at home series with the London Knights kicked off on the afternoon of the 31st with a game that everyone knew was going to be a beauty, it was the best crowd in the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in a long time with 4,500 in the stands and the 50/50 draw topping $4,700.
The Sarnia Sting were coming off a harsh loss to the Windsor Spitfires and they came looking to gain ground on the Soo Greyhounds, but this would not be the Sunday for that. Anthony Salinitri picked up his 16th goal of the season to open the scoring at 8:14 of the first period, and the Knights would answer with one from Harrison Cottam. Jordan Ernst would get his 19th of the season thanks to the wrap around and then the pass out in front, that would give the hometown team the lead, at the end of two.
The third period was just old style open ice hard hitting hockey and the refs let a few things go until the final minutes of the game. Some calls that were let go had the referees in the 13th row screaming but a late hooking penalty on what many saw as just a stick lift garnered a Knights powerplay. Head Coach Derian Hatcher was not pleased about that call especially when so much was let go.
That would lead to a London powerplay goal and when Sarnia pulled Justin Fazio in order to even up the ice, that did not go as planned either, as London would score on the empty night.
Now the Sting will travel up the 402 for a late afternoon game on New Year’s Day. Hatcher says the game plan stays the same. adding that he thought his team actually played a solid game. But the key is to get back their confidence from earlier this season and put more pucks in the net.
Sarnia is looking not only to even the home at home series with the Knights but to gain back some of the 14 points that they trail Sault Ste Marie by. The puck drops at the Budweiser Gardens in London at 4 p.m.. for round second of the Battle of the 402.
The Sting return to the Progressive Auto Sales Arena on January 3 to take on the Saginaw Spirit with a 7:05 p.m. start time.