A weekend that began with such promise ended with a thud for the Erie Otters Saturday night.
Unlike their strong efforts in a convincing six-goal win against Saginaw Wednesday night and a shootout loss to Sault Ste. Marie Friday night, the Otters had little energy in a 5-2 loss to Sarnia in front of 2,648 fans at Erie Insurance Arena Saturday night.
Rookie center Connor McDavid had a goal and assist for the Otters (4-8-1-2), which dropped their second straight game and finished the three-game weekend series at home 1-1-0-1. McDavid, who extended his point streak to 14 straight games and has 18 points in 15 games, was one of the lone bright spots for a team that struggled to find consistency against the Sting (7-6-0-1).
The Otters entered the game with the OHL’s seventh-ranked penalty kill at 82.5 percent. But Sarnia’s third-rated power play burned the Otters for four goals on five chances in the game. Craig Duininck, who had one goal in his first 12 games, scored the first of his two power-play goals on assists from Nikolay Goldobin and Anthony DeAngelo 9 minutes, 47 seconds into the opening period.
Goaltender Oscar Dansk made several key stops, especially in close, to keep the Otters within a goal until Charles Sarault netted his sixth goal of the season, a power-play score 10:04 into the second period, to extend the Sting’s lead to 2-0. Sarnia’s lead reached 3-0 less than two minutes later, as Duininck scored his second goal of the night on assists from Goldobin and Bryan Moore.
The Otters crept within 3-1 on Connor Crisp’s sixth goal of the season – a loose puck in front that he slipped past Sting goaltender J.P. Anderson – with 1:45 left in the period. Moments later, Otters defenseman Adam Pelech was helped to the dressing room with a left ankle injury suffered while blocking a shot. Club officials believe Pelech suffered only a bruise, but he was expected to undergo x-rays. Pelech, who was hit with a shot on the same ankle in Friday’s game was seen walking gingerly outside the dressing room after the game. The Otters learned before the game that winger Nick Betz will miss at least the next six to eight weeks after undergoing surgery Friday night for a ruptured appendix.
Then any momentum the Otters gained from Crisp’s goal vanished 53 seconds into the third period, as the Sting regained a three-goal lead at 4-1 on Reid Boucher‘s goal. McDavid provided a bit of a spark, as his steal in front of the Sting’s net and two nifty moves through traffic produced his seventh goal of the season and moved the Otters within 4-2 with 10:12 left in the game.
But Goldobin’s shot into an open net – Sarnia’s fourth power-play goal in five chances – with 1:30 left sealed the Sting’s win.
– Victor Fernandes