Sting Snap Losing Streak, Claim OT Thriller Over Brantford 4-3
By Carl Chimenti
The drought finally came to an end as the Sarnia Sting snapped a season long seven-game losing streak beating the Brantford Bulldogs 4-3 on a goal from Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers) just 44 seconds into overtime Friday night, before a huge crowd of 3,903 at the Progressive Auto Sales arena.
Vilmanis received a lead pass from Jacob LeBlanc that sent him in alone and he beat Bulldogs goaltender David Egorov on the glove side for his 8th goal of the year. The Bulldogs broke a 2-2 tie late in the third period at 15:21 on a goal from Ben Bujold. Sarnia called a timeout with less that two minutes to play and pulled Sting goaltender Karsen Chartier for the extra attacker and it paid dividends as Andrew LeBlanc sixth of the season tied the game with just 1:15 left, scoring on a rebound from in front to send the game into overtime.
Andrew was named the first star of the game. Andrew and Vilmanis both had a goal and an assist. Easton wainwright (3rd) and Marko Sikic (7th) had a goal each with Wainwright being selected as the third star. Jacob LeBlanc had three assists and was a +3 in the game. Lukas Fischer and Kai Schwindt (Florida Panthers) contributed an assist each and for Schwindt it was his first point with the Sting since being acquired in late November from the Mississauga Steelheads.
The game also marked the return of Sting forward Daylen Moses, coming back from an injury. Brantford pivot Bujold was chosen as the second star. Patrick Thomas (Washington Capitals) had a pair of assists for Brantford. Chartier stopped 21 of 24 shots picking up his third win of the year. Egorov had 27 saves on 31 shots. Overall Sarnia out-shot Brantford 31-24. The Bulldogs went 1/3 while the Sting failed to score on three man-advantage opportunities. Next up for the Sting will be the 26th annual Finch Ford Lincoln and the Salvation Army Teddy Bear toss game, which will be this Sunday afternoon at the hive against the Kitchener Rangers with puck drop scheduled at 2:05pm. The opening period started with Sarnia having to kill off an early penalty and although there was a some back and forth passing the Sting were able to kill the infraction keeping Brantford mostly to the outside. Just past the midway point Sarnia had the first of two power-plays putting two shots on goal. Seconds later after the power-play had expired Sarnia got on the board as Wainwright scored at 12:41 with assists going to both the LeBlanc brothers Andrew and Jacob.
The second Sting power-play came late and the Sting created a couple of good chances putting three shots on net.The period came to an end with the Sting dominating the shot clock 14-3, keeping the Bulldogs with-out a shot for nearly the last 15 minutes of play and skating off with a 1-0 lead. Sarnia maintained their one goal lead after forty minutes as both teams scored once in the middle frame. The Bulldogs came out strong in the early going and managed to tie the game with one second left on their power-play. Sherk beat Chartier, going upstairs on the short side at 5:30 with Marek Vanacker and Jake O’Brien drawing the assists.
The Sting went back in front at 12:21 with an even strength goal from Sikic. The scoring play began with Fischer sending a short pass to Jacob LeBlanc, who in turn sent a perfect feed to a steaking Sikic and he went in alone and beat Egorov on the glove side. Brantford out-shot Sarnia 13-5.