Sarnia Wins 5th Straight Scoring Five Unanswered Goals To Beat Kitchener 5-1
By Carl Chimenti
The Sarnia Sting (24-14-4-2) scored five straight goals over the final two periods to beat the Kitchener Rangers (19-22-2-0) 5-1, Tuesday night at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium.
It was the CHL Game of the Week and Sarnia displayed a team that sent a strong message to the rest of the OHL, The Canadian Hockey League and the many viewers that were tuned in, that they were a team that has serious championship aspirations.
The victory extended the Sting winning streak to a season high five games and capped a perfect 3-0 record on the just completed road trip that saw wins in addition to tonight, in the Soo and Saginaw. Sarnia now returns home for a Friday night tilt against the Soo Greyhounds.
SWARM WARNING #1: Sarnia made it 3-0 against the Rangers this season with two of the wins coming at the Aud in Kitchener, including a 6-3 victory on opening night in the OHL, on September 30th, 2022.
SWARM WARNING #2: With tonight’s win, Sarnia moves within one point of the third place Owen Sound Attack in the Western Conference.
STORM WARNING #3: For the second straight game, the Sarnia Sting swept the three-star selections, with Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins) 2 assists-third star, Ethan Del Mastro (Chicago Black Hawks) 2 assists-second star and Sasha Pastujov (Anaheim Ducks) 1 goal and 2 assists as the first star.
STORM WARNING #4: The Sarnia Sting Special teams were perfect tonight going three for three with the man-advantage and killing off both Ranger power-play chances.
The game turned in the third period following a five-minute major along with a cross-checking game misconduct to Rangers forward Francesco Pinelli (Los Angeles Kings) on Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators). The major penalty opened the flood gates for Sarnia as they tallied three goals the rest of the way to break-open a game that was still very much in the balance.
Ethan Ritchie scored the first of his two goals at 9:50 from Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers) and Christian Kyrou (Dallas Stars). For Ritchie it was his third goal in two games and ran his point streak to three games (3-2-5). Vilmanis, notched his third assist in as many games.
The score went to 4-1 on a 4 on 4 goal from Pastujov, his 26th on the year at 15:09 from Mast and Del Mastro. Pastujov has seven points in his last two games, that includes a pair of goals. Mast also has a three- game point streak (1-3-4). Del Mastro has simply been on a heater since joining the Sting from Mississauga running his point streak to five games (1-9-10) and has points in six of the eight games since being acquired from the Steelheads.
Ritchie scored the last goal at 18:33 on the power-play from Marko Sikic and Marcus Limpar-Lantz. Sikic has four assists in his last two games and Limpar-Lantz has four assists in his last four games.
Sting goaltender Ben Gaudreau seems to be getting stronger since returning with a gold medal from the world juniors, turning in another outstanding performance as he swept away all but one of the Rangers 23 shots. Overall Sarnia out-shot Kitchener 34-23.
Kitchener scored the only goal in an evenly played first period that saw both teams putting seven shots on goal. The Ranger goal came early at the 53 second mark as Filip Mesar (Montreal Canadiens) came crashing in on net and was able to slip the puck past Gaudreau with his 12th of the season from Matthew Sop and Pinelli. Sting captain Nolan Dillingham laid out the hit of the game with a thunderous check on Mitchell Martin, deep in the Sting zone with less than eight minutes to play in the opening frame. Gaudreau was sharp as he made timely saves in a period that saw the Rangers with a couple of odd man 2 on 1 rushes.
In a fast paced second period Sarnia came out buzzing, scoring the only two goals early on, 53 seconds apart to take a 2-1 lead into the dressing room. The Sting capitalized on their first power-play chance by dominating, for all 25 seconds it took to convert the scoring. Pastujov made a pass to Burke who was down low and Burke was able to go back-hand to fore-hand that resulted in his 29th goal of the season. Del Mastro also drew an assist on the goal that came at 2:16. Shortly after, DelBelBelluz scored his 23rd of the season as he followed up a rebound shot from Pastujov to light the lamp at 3:09 on an even strength goal. Pastujov and Mast were credited with the helpers. From there both goaltenders made high-light reel saves with Gaudreau saving the best for last with 15 seconds remaining to rob Reid Valade with a sprawling save. Sarnia out-shot Kitchener 15-11 in the middle stanza