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BRAMPTON, Ont. – The Sarnia Sting stung the Brampton Battalion early Sunday on the way to a 4-1 Ontario Hockey League decision, the Troops’ third consecutive loss.
Nickolas Latta and Reid Boucher, the latter on the power play, scored goals 1:13 apart midway in the opening period to give the visitors the early edge.
“We were flat in the first period,” said Battalion defenceman Cameron Wind. “We couldn’t match their intensity, and they killed us with seam passes.
“They have a ton of firepower, and we wanted to come out and get on them early. It ended up working the other way because we didn’t have the energy to match them out of the gate.”
Sarnia, outshot 31-15 in the game, scored on its first two shots against rookie Battalion goaltender Jake Smith, who made his third start.
“They got two good chances in the period and buried both,” said Smith, who has a won-lost-extended record of 1-3-0 and a goals-against average of 3.39.
“The first goal was a tap-in from the low slot,” noted Wind. “On their third goal, there isn’t much you’re going to be able to do against (Alex) Galchenyuk on a breakaway.”
Said Smith: “It’s tough when you don’t get as many shots, but there are no excuses. You have to support the boys sometimes, and it didn’t work out today.”
The Troops responded strongly in the second period, with left winger Blake Clarke scoring his fifth goal of the season on the power play to cut the deficit to 2-1 after 40 minutes. Clarke, the Battalion’s first-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection last April, extended a points streak to six games. He has three goals and five assists for eight points in the span.
“We played really well in the second,” said Wind. “(Zach) Bell got some energy back with a really good fight, and then Clarke scored. I think we won that period.”
Said Clarke: “I thought we were the better team for most of the game. We just couldn’t bear down on our chances, and they did.”
Galchenyuk, the first overall pick in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, got loose down the right side to restore Sarnia’s two-goal lead in the third period before Brett Hargrave scored into an empty net.
“We played strong in the second and third,” said Smith. “We got a bad bounce late in the third, Galchenyuk scored and it deflated us.”
Added Wind: “The puck took a funny bounce and got by me, and it led to the third goal. It took the wind out of our sails the rest of the way.”
Wind was firm in support of Smith, who played last season with the affiliated junior A Orangeville Flyers.
“The 14 shots he faced were all good shots. We could have 40 shots and get 13 good scoring chances. They had only 14 on him and they just made the most of their scoring chances.
“I don’t care what Smith says; he played well today.”
After a 4-1 home-ice win Oct. 21 over the Barrie Colts, the Battalion, 5-6-5 for 15 points in the Central Division, lost 2-1 in overtime at Barrie last Thursday night and 5-1 Friday night to the host Mississauga Steelheads.