The two top teams in the OHL’s Western division battled it out at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena Friday night. But it did not end quite the way the hometown crowd would have liked it. The Sarnia Sting faced the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in what could only be called a battle of wills, between Sting netminder Justin Fazio and Soo goaltender Mathew Villalta.
Open play with very few stops in the action kept those in attendance glued to the action and on the edge of their seats. After 60 minutes of pure hockey action, the two teams were locked at three goals apiece and that meant Overtime.
Five minutes of three-on-three hockey would finally produce a winner at 4:03 of the overtime period as Jack Kopacka of the Greyhounds found the back of the net and give the win to the visitors.
Coach Drew Bannister has schooled his team extremely well in precision passing and protecting the neutral zone, as turnovers cost Sarnia dearly. Penalties were even between the two teams but a short-handed goal in the final seconds of the first period had the Hounds leading by 2 at the end of the first frame.
The Sting did answer quickly to start the second period and added another with just over five minutes left in the second period. That had the hometown team going into the third period trailing by 1. Sarnia would tie things up with only 3:10 left to play in order to take the game into an extra period, then Kopacka hit twine to give the win to the boys from the North.
Sarnia still remains on top of the Western division but the Greyhounds are nipping at their heels in second spot.
The three stars of the game were Jack Kopacka of the Greyhounds, Anthony Salintri, and Jordon Kyrou of Sarnia, but both Justin Fazio and Matthew Villalta deserved stars for the performance these two young men put on between the pipes at either end.
There were two NHL scouts in the attendance, as well as the just over 3,100 in the stands. The Scouts, who represented the Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Ducks, certainly got a good look at some very talented players. There were undoubtedly a few notes jotted down in those little black notebooks they carry.
The Sting will now prepare for the Owen Sound Attack, who they face in Sarnia on Sunday afternoon