Sting win in overtime
Hatcher scores in OT, Perreault tallies twice for 5-4 win over Spits
WINDSOR — The Sarnia Sting and Windsor Spitfires are both adjusting to life after trading a top player.
The Sting are moving on after dealing overage forward Anthony Salinitri to Oshawa while the Spitfires traded all-star goalie Mikey DiPietro to the Ottawa 67’s on Tuesday.
While the two teams might not have the talent to battle for a division or conference title, there’s still plenty left to battle for.
“We’re going to try and win every night,” Sting associate coach David Legwand said. “We have a good hockey team and kids that want to compete.”
The Sting crept to within a point of the Spitfires for sixth overall in the Western Conference with a 5-4 win in overtime on Thursday before a crowd of 4,430 at the WFCU Centre. The two teams meet again on Friday at 7:05 p.m. at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
“You go out every night and try to win,” Legwand said. “You do what you can to win. We have some kids that are picking up the slack.”
Like rookie Jacob Perreault, who got the Sting going as he tipped Sarnia’s first shot of the game past rookie goaltender Kari Piiroinen. It was Piiroinen’s first start since the DiPietro trade and he is expected to assume the No. 1 job.
“It’s a big change and I was nervous,” said Piiroinen, who finished with 37 saves. “It was a tough start (with the goal) for me. I’ve got to be used to that because no one’s going to say it to me.”
Piiroinen, who is from Finland, made 21 straight saves after the Perreault goal to allow his teammates to settle into the game.
“They still have good goaltending and good team,” Legwand said of the Spitfires. “It changes a little with (DiPietro) gone, but he was going to be gone.”
Sting rookie goalie Ethan Langevin was also solid and kept the Spitfires off the board until midway through the second period when Windsor got back-to-back goals by Daniel D’Amico in just over five minutes.
D’Amico was left unchecked at the side of the net to tie the game midway through the period and scored on a two-on-one to give Windsor what would be its only lead at 2-1.
“Without a guy like Mikey, a big presence in the room and vocal for us, it felt different,” Cuylle said. “At the same time, we played very well.”
But even with Salinitri gone, the Sting have plenty of firepower and it showed in a 37-second span in the final two minutes of the second period.
“It’s not a rebuild by any means,” Legwand said. “It’s a trade where (Salinitri) was going to be around four more months.
“We’re worried about our team and everyone’s going to do what’s best for their organization.”
Goals by Adam Ruzicka and Ryan McGregor put Sarnia up 3-2 after 40 minutes, but the game would continue to go back and forth in the third period.
Will Cuylle, who is a 16-year-old rookie, would score twice on the power play in the third period to force overtime.
Both goals were set up by fellow 16-year-old rookie Jean-Luc Foudy and the second came with less than three minutes to play in regulation to offset Perreault’s second of the game.
“We switched up the power play a bit and have been working on it the last two days a lot and did a good job executing,” said Cuylle, whose team was ranked 17th on the power play in the 20-team league coming into Thursday’s game.
In a wild overtime where Spitfires defenceman Connor Corcoran drilled a shot off the post, the Sting got the winner with 41.4 seconds left in three-on-three play with Kelton Hatcher converting a two-on-one, which allowed Sarnia to grab an extra point and move to within a point of the Spitfires.
“That’s three-on-three for you,” Cuylle said. “Back and forth and fun to play, but one mistake and it can cost you.
“Every game were trying to win and we’re never satisfied with one point, especially where it’s one shot from two points. It stings a bit more, but it’s a learning experience.
Windsor Spitfires' Curtis Douglas gets sandwiched between Ashton Reesor, left, and goalie Ethan Langevin of the Sarnia Sting on Thursday at the WFCU Centre in Windsor.