Sarnia Bring it Within One but Fall Short Against Firebirds
By Carl Chimenti
Despite being short-handed due to injuries and World Junior Camps, the Sarnia Sting (13-9-4-2) fought till the end, but came up short, losing to the Flint Firebirds (16-9-2-1) 6-5, Friday night in front of 2,899 at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings) scored three times, including what proved to be the game winner on the power-play at 9:35 of the third period to put the Firebirds up for good at 6-4. Sarnia came back to with-in one on a goal from Porter Martone, his third of the season at 11:53 from Alexis Daviault and came close in the final seconds, but could not score from a couple of mad scrambles in front of the net in the final seconds of the game.
Sarnia, earlier in the period had scored to make it 5-4 on a goal from Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers), who finished of a three-way tic-tac-toe passing play from Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators) to Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) at 7:18. The assist was a milestone for Burke, his 100 career point in the OHL all with the Sting.
Vilmanis had a three-point game with two goals that extended his point streak (4-3-7) to four games. Easton Wainwright scored his fourth of the year and added an assist. Burke in his return had a goal and an assist. Voit stretched his latest point streak (3-6-9) to four games with a pair of assists.
Nicholas Surzycia making his third straight start in net came up with 20 saves on 26 shots for the Sting.
The three stars were Gavin Hayes Chicago BlackHawks, 3rd with 2 points (1-1) from the Firebirds. Second star was Vilmanis and the first star was Lombardi.
Sarnia jumped out to a 1-0 lead as Wainwright scored his fourth goal of the season. Vilmanis and Zach Filak helped set up the goal which came at 4:13. Flint came back with a pair of goals as Lombardi scored on a turnover at 6:02 and Gavin Hayes finished off a two on nothing rush with Riley Piercey at 16:41. Sarnia out-shot Flint 10-5.
Artem Guryev increased the Firebirds lead to 3-1 early in the second period, scoring at 4:07 with both teams a man short. The Sting came roaring back with two goals 64 seconds apart. Burke, who was celebrating his birthday and his return to the line-up from an injury scored his 16th of the season. The play was started with Nolan Dillingham passing to Voit, who returned the pass to Dillingham and he sent a pass to Burke in front and Burke from his back-hand scored at 8:40. For Dillingham, team captain it was his first assist and point this season.
Wainwright set up the Sting’s second goal of the middle stanza with a good job on the for-check causing a take-away and he feed Vilmanis who beat goaltender Will Cranley (St Louis Blues) from the slot to tie the hockey game 3-3 at 9:44. Flint scored the final two goals to skate off with a 5-3 lead on goals from Lombardi, his second of the game at 10 :46 and Zacharie Giroux at 18:28. Flint out-shot Sarnia 10-8.
The two teams have a return match Saturday night in Flint.