Bees Beat the Birds 4-3 in OT
By Carl Chimenti
The Sarnia Sting (8-5-1-1) gutted out a gritty hard fought win, beating the Flint Firebirds (8-7-1-0) 4-3, in an overtime thriller Sunday afternoon, in front of a large crowd of 2,926, at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
The win put Sarnia in second place in the West Division.
Sarnia played the game under extreme adverse conditions from the drop of the puck, to the overtime winner, from overage defenseman Ethan Ritchie, on the power-play at 2:51.
Starting the game, Sarnia was minus four defensemen due to injuries and being forced to substitute forward Marko Sikic as a fifth rearguard, who contributed an assist and an overall strong game on both sides of the ice.
On top of that Nolan Burke, the OHL leading goal scorer, who scored two goals (14), including the first team short-handed goal of the season, was called for a game-misconduct penalty, for a hit-from behind, with less then four minutes to play in the game. The Sting penalty put the team short-handed for five minutes, that carried over into the extra frame, from the third period. Through it all the Sting held strong and came away with their first win over the Firebirds this season in the third meeting between the two teams this season.
Zach Filak scored his second of the year. Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers) had a couple of assists and Max Namestnikov and Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs), each had an assist. Voit’s assist puts him back at 30 points again, after an assist from the last game was taken away by the OHL. Voit continues to lead the OHL in scoring.
Burke was selected as the first star and Sting goaltender Ben Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) was named third star with 33 saves on 36 shots.
Sarnia drew first blood as Zach Filak scored his second of the season. The goal was set up with a pass from Namestnikov to Vilmanis and he sent a pass across the crease to Filak, who on his second try scored from a jam up in front on a back-hand shot putting the puck behind Cranley at the 9:50 mark. Sarnia managed to kill off the lone Firebird power-play late in the period, thanks to a great stop by Gaudreau in the final five seconds. Sarnia Skated off with a 1-0 lead, with the clock still showing three seconds left on the Firebird man-advantage.
The teams traded goals in the middle stanza. After killing off the final three seconds of the lapsed Firebird power-play, Burke made it 2-0 at the 51 second mark for Sarnia. Burke picked up a loose puck inside the Sting Blue-line and raced up ice, splitting the Firebird D and breaking in alone, scoring on his back-hand in a highlight-reel goal. The goal was his OHL league leading thirteenth goal with Sikic assisting on the play.
Zach Giroux, sliced the lead in half for Flint with his third goal in two games which came at 8:13. The Sting killed off all three Firebird penalties and skated to the dressing room nursing a one goal advantage.
Sarnia opened up a 3-1 lead in the third period shorthanded, on Burke’s second goal which was unassisted. He picked up the puck from the corner and went in on goal and scored through the five-hole.
Coulson Pitre, who was the second star, scored twice at 8:20 and 12:52, to tie the hockey game up, sending it to overtime.