Sting loses to Spirit in overtime after failing to protect late lead

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The Sarnia Sting received a painful lesson Friday in what it takes to win.

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The Sarnia Sting received a painful lesson Friday in what it takes to win.

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The Saginaw Spirit scored twice late in the third period and then won 4-3 in overtime in front of 2,965 fans at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

Josh Bloom scored the shorthanded winner on a breakaway 1:40 from sudden death after a turnover from Sting.

“Disappointing,” Sting head coach Alan Letang said. “I thought we deserved the two points. We played well at times.

“It’s tough when you lose that because you feel like you have the game under control and then you have a few mental lapses in our structure, a few mental lapses in our competition, a few mental lapses in our gap and it ends in the back of the net.

“Ninety-eight percent of our team who played hard all night, I feel bad for them because it was a few mental lapses that hurt us.”

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The Sting had no killer instincts, Letang said, pointing to their inability to even get into the Spirit zone on the OT power play.

“We should have been out there licking our chops and saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this game,'” he said.

Instead, the Sting (8-6-2-1) lost their second straight game and fell two points behind Spirit (10-6-1-0), second in the League West Division. Ontario hockey.

“A lot of guys played really well,” Letang said. “The guys competed hard. It was tight on both sides.

“It was a good hockey game, but it’s frustrating because you see our guys go against each other, against each other, against each other, and then it’s just a tired mental mistake that hurt us.

“It wasn’t a big goal where they created something. We gave them something and that’s what’s frustrating.

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Sandis Vilmanis of the Sting forced overtime by scoring with 10.1 seconds left in the third period.

Ethan Ritchie scored the other two goals for the Sting, who led 2-1 with less than seven minutes remaining.

The Sting still has to learn to play 60 minutes, Letang said.

“We still have things to learn about how to win and what it takes to win,” he said. “We needed a blocked shot here or a blocked shot there. Maybe we need a goal that fits in someone’s back or someone’s face or someone’s head, but you have to be willing to go into those areas and do those things to get victories.

Spirit’s Matyas Sapovaliv headed for the net and beat goaltender Nick Surzycia for the tying goal with 6:36 left in the third period.

The Spirit went up 3-2 with 2:54 to play. Luke McNamara skated through the middle of the Stings’ area and beat his defender one-on-one for the go-ahead goal.

Surzycia finished with 24 saves. Spirit’s Tristan Lennox made 28.

Brayden Hislop gave the Spirit a first-period lead, but Ritchie responded with two runs in the second period. The overage defender has three goals in his last three games.

Sting captain Nolan Dillingham played for the first time since his injury in the season opener, but fellow defenders Ryan Mast, Chandler Romeo and Josh Hoover were still absent.

OHL scoring leader Nolan Burke of the Sting served the final game of his two-game suspension. He can return Sunday when the Stings visit the Guelph Storm.

Sandis Vilmanis (22) of Sarnia Sting attempts to pass Joey Willis (14) of Saginaw Spirit in the first period at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., Friday, November 11, 2022. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network
Sandis Vilmanis (22) of Sarnia Sting attempts to pass Joey Willis (14) of Saginaw Spirit in the first period at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., Friday, November 11, 2022. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network
Sarnia Sting's Max Namestnikov, left, is knocked down by Saginaw Spirit's Brayden Hislop in the first period at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network
Sarnia Sting’s Max Namestnikov, left, is knocked down by Saginaw Spirit’s Brayden Hislop in the first period at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network
Ty Voit (96) of Sarnia Sting takes on Davis Codd (43) of Saginaw Spirit in the first period at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., Friday, November 11, 2022. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network
Ty Voit (96) of Sarnia Sting takes on Davis Codd (43) of Saginaw Spirit in the first period at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont., Friday, November 11, 2022. Mark Malone/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network

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