A wild third period propelled the Sarnia Sting to victory Friday night.
The Sting scored four goals in the third stanza to skate off with a 6-3 triumph over the Saginaw Spirit in front of 3,085 fans at the RBC Centre.
Brett Thompson led the Sting offence with three goals; Nail Yakupov had a pair while Reid Boucher added a single. Charlie Sarault chipped in with four assists to extend his points scoring streak to 10 games while Taylor Carnevale added three assists.
Michael Fine scored two goals and Josh Shalla one for the Spirit.
Thompson came into the game with just one goal in five games since joining the Sting in a trade with Erie.
Sting head coach Jacques Beaulieu said he challenged Thompson earlier in the day.
“He’s here to score goals and he had just one since he came. We challenged to be better offensively. Brett’s scored 40 goals in each of the past two seasons and we don’t expect anything different this season.”
Thompson wouldn’t say exactly what the coach said to him.
“He said in so many words I needed to be better. But I knew that. I haven’t played well offensively the past few games. Tonight I was moving my feet and worked harder.”
The Sting scored four power play goals in the game.
“We were using each other tonight,” said Thompson, when asked why the power play was clicking. “In the game against Kitchener we got a little frustrated and were trying to do too much ourselves. We have success when we work as a team.”
Beaulieu was happy to see the power play have success.
“We are a little sensitive right now as a team and low on confidence. When you aren’t scoring it plays on your mind. We scored six tonight and the power play was real good. We got the job done on that five-minute power play in the third period with a couple of goals and that was the difference.”
The Sing finished four-for-seven on the power play while Saginaw was two-for-five.
The Sting allowed just 22 shots on goal after giving up only 19 the night before against Kitchener.
“I thought we forechecked better tonight. But we still didn’t give up a lot of shots. It was a good defensive effort.”
The teams traded power play goals in the opening 10 minutes of period one. Michael Fine opened the scoring for Saginaw at 4:05 before Yakupov tied for Sarnia at 8:36 banging home a rebound off an Alex Basso point drive.
Fine provided Saginaw with a 2-1 lead before the period ended with another power play goal on a rebound.
Sarnia outshot Saginaw 14-5 in period two and scored the only goal of the period at 17:23 with the man advantage as Thompson was left alone in front of the net and picked the top corner from close range.
Sting goalie Brandon Maxwell kept the game tied early in the third period when he stopped Saginaw’s Vincent Trocheck on a shorthanded breakaway. Maxwell flashed his catching glove to stop a shot headed for the top corner.
Then at 5:33 the fireworks began. Yakupov was decked with a check in the center ice area. Both officials did not see the play. But after speaking with their linesmen they assessed a five-minute head-checking major and game misconduct to Saginaw’s Garret Ross.
The call incensed Spirit head coach Todd Watson.
But the Sting went to work scoring twice on the major penalty. Boucher scored from the slot at 6:03 while Yakupov knocked in a rebound at 9:17. For Boucher it was his first goal in eight games.
Thompson got his second of the night for the Sting at 10:56 to extend the lead to 5-2. Thompson cut around the Saginaw defence and slipped the puck past goalie Jake Paterson.
Josh Shalla cut the Sarnia lead to 5-3 at 11:55. Saginaw then enjoyed a two-man advantage for a minute and 15 seconds. However the Sting did an outstanding job limiting the Spirit to only two shots on goal.
Thompson put the game on ice for the Sting at 16:08 completing his hat trick when he finished off a goalmouth pass from Yakupov.
Sarnia finished with a 36-22 edge in shots on goal.
The victory boosted Sarnia’s record 14-4-1-3 in the Ontario Hockey League.
Sarnia and Saginaw have a return engagement Saturday night in Saginaw.
“They play a little different in their own rink so we have to be ready,” said Beaulieu.
Last night’s game produced two fights and also some chippiness in the third period.
“That’s the emotions of the game,” said Beaulieu. “I thought the interference penalty to (Anthony) Camera was a little cheap. He blindsided one of our kids coming off the bench. That’s a dangerous play and could have easily been a major. We need to protect players in our league from that happening.”
The Sting will be home twice next week against Eastern Conference opponents. They host the Barrie Colts Thursday night and will be home to the Niagara IceDogs Saturday night. Both games begin at 7:05 p.m.
Tickets can be obtained by calling the RBC Centre box office at 519-541-1717 or going online at Sarniasting.com
– Thompson was first star with Sarault second star and Trocheck third star. Sting defenceman Julian Luciani was the Dickies hardest-working player of the game.
– Yakupov now has eight points in his last three games. He also has four game-winning goals, tops on the team.
– Sarault’s four assists give him 35 points on the season. That’s just three shy of his entire output in 67 games with Kingston last season.
– Sarnia played one player under the limit of 19, as forward Brett Ritchie did not dress due to a lower body injury.
– Sarnia’s home record improved to 8-2-1-2.
– The Sting is 3-0 against Saginaw so far this season with three more games to go.
Dave Borody is a freelance writer who covers Sting games both home and away and also does features for the Sting Website.