Vilmanis Late Power-Play Goal Stings Niagara 5-4
By Carl Chimenti
Sandis Vilmanis (Florida Panthers), has only played ten games in his OHL career, but he is quickly asserting himself as a clutch player for the Sarnia Sting, as they held on to beat the Niagara IceDogs 5-4 in front of a noisy and jubilant crowd of 2,539, Saturday evening, at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
For the second straight game the Riga, Latvia native, scored late to help the Sting gain valuable points in the standings. Last night, his goal with 57 seconds left in regulation secured a point in a hard-fought battle with the Flint Firebirds and tonight again, Vilmanis played hero, one of many in the Sting line-up scoring the game winning goal on the power-play with 3:35 to play in the game.
The winning goal came after the IceDogs had erased a three-goal deficit, in the second half of the third period.
Five different players scored for Sarnia which included the Vilmanis goal.
Marcus Limpar-Lantz (4), Marko Sikic (2) and Nolan Burke each had a goal and an assist. Max Namestnikov (3), also netted a single tally.
For Burke it was his sixth straight game in which he has scored a goal and ran his point scoring streak to six games as well.
Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs), had four helpers in the game, becoming the first player in the Ontario Hockey League to hit the 20-point plateau with his league leading 21 points. He has scored points in all ten games for the Sting.
Easton Wainwright and Porter Martone contributed an assist each in the win.
Nicholas Surzycia, made his first start in net for Sarnia, following a pair of relief games and played a strong game, especially in the second period when he came up with two great saves including one off the stick of former Sting player Nolan Dann. In all, he stopped 26 of 30 shots.
For the second straight game, the Sting scored an early goal, this one coming within the first five minutes as Limpar-Lantz scored his fourth goal of the season.
Voit, set up the scoring play, with a pass from the left corner to Limpar-Lantz, who was stationed inside the face-off circle and his shot deflected off an IceDog player past goaltender Rosenzweig at 4:38.
Just past the mid-way point Sarnia was called for a minor penalty and Aidan Castle tied the game with a power-play goal at 11:48. Niagara came into the contest with the fourth best power-play in the Ontario Hockey League but could only score once in two tries while Sarnia went1 for four with the man-advantage.
Near the end of the first period Sarnia appeared to score again. The goal went under review, but was nullified, after it was determined that the puck never crossed the goal line.
The second period was all Sarnia as they lit the lamp twice, while holding Niagara to only four shots on goal.
Once again, an early goal put the Sting ahead as Namestnikov, scored his third goal of the year at 2:03 from Martone, who notched his third assist of the campaign and Marko Sikic. Sikic played a huge role in the third goal for Sarnia with a no quit attitude, breaking in alone, only to be stopped, but came right back in front, receiving a pass from Voit and this time he buried it in the back of the net.
Burke scored at 5:30 of the third period, only to see Niagara score three in a row to tie the game before Vilmanis put the game in the win column with his late goal.
Sarnia out-shot Niagara 31-30 and was successful in the face-offs, winning 33 to 30.
Aidan Castle scored twice and was the second star, while Pano Fimis had a goal and an assist for the IceDogs.
Voit, was selected as the first star and Sikic, was named third star of the game.