Off to their best start ever, the Sarnia Sting are buzzing behind a club record eight game winning streak after a flawless three-in-three weekend.
Entering action as the CHL’s eighth-ranked team, the Sting proceeded to knock off the visiting Mississauga Steelheads by a score of 8-1 on Friday, the Guelph Storm 6-1 on Saturday and the Windsor Spitfires by a score of 3-2 on the road on Sunday.
Sarnia’s offence has been so wildly successful this season that the club has scored at least six goals in six of 10 contests. The contributions have been widespread too, with Calgary Flames prospect Adam Ruzicka taking charge with 15 points (8-7–15) while St. Louis Blues second round pick Jordan Kyrou trails close behind with 14 points (4-10–14) over eight games.
For a team that suffered heavy losses at the outset of the 2016-17 season when Jakob Chychrun (Arizona), Travis Konecny (Philadelphia) and Pavel Zacha (New Jersey) all made the jump to the NHL, the hot start has been a beautiful sight for Sting fans, players, coaches and management.
“We thought at the time that we’d maybe get two of the three back, but it didn’t work out that way,” said Sting head coach Derian Hatcher who mans the Sarnia bench alongside co-owner and recent NHL retiree David Legwand. “Through the course of last year we kind of had to re-tool a little bit and our general manager Nick Sinclair did a great job with that.”
Sting brass figured they’d have a good team to work with this season, but a 9-1 start may not have been what they’d envisioned. Key individuals have stepped up to carry the load.
“Adam Ruzicka has really made big strides,” Hatcher noted of his top scorer, the club’s second round pick in the 2016 CHL Import Draft. “He’s so big, strong and he knows how to score goals. We think he was an absolute steal for the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the draft.”
Another emerging talent, 17-year-old winger Brady Hinz got in on the fun last week with six goals, three assists and nine points in four games to earn OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week honours.
While he entered the 2017-18 campaign as a lesser-known name in the Sting lineup, Hatcher isn’t at all surprised by the former third round pick’s performance.
“Brady came in last year and put up 30 points as a 16-year-old. He’s just a smart player, the type of guy that you tell something once and it sticks with him. He really understands the game well.”
Perhaps Sarnia’s best-known star, captain Jordan Kyrou was named to the OHL’s roster for the upcoming 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series. The St. Louis Blues prospect and Canadian National Junior Team hopeful will represent the OHL on November 9th in Owen Sound.
Unlike last year, the Sting are one of the fortunate teams to have a star like Kyrou back in the lineup while others across the league have been left without some highly touted names. The Sting are making the most of their early season opportunity.
“At the end of the day we want to develop players and push them to the next level, but this season we’re fortunate to have a full lineup in front of us,” Hatcher noted. “We just played Mississauga the other night and they’re a team on the other side of things where they’re missing some really good players (Michael McLeod, New Jersey and Owen Tippett, Florida) and that’s the way things go sometimes.”
Overage goaltender Justin Fazio has been there when called upon while other contributors in converted forward Jordan Ernst, Los Angeles Kings prospect Drake Rymsha and Philadelphia Flyers pick Anthony Salinitri have played key roles in Sarnia’s early season surge.
The Sting have played seven of their 10 games on home ice thus far, but will be tested on the road this weekend with a three-in-three set in North Bay, Sudbury and Barrie starting on Thursday.
The early momentum is promising for Sting fans as their club chases its third ever West Division title and first OHL championship in 2017-18.