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Sting goalies stand firm in thwarting London Knights

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Three second-period goals and 47 saves from Nick Surzycia and Karsen Chartier helped the Sarnia Sting edge the London Knights 3-2 on Sept. 9 at Budweiser Gardens.

It was the first pre-season game for both teams.

The Knights jumped out to a 2-0 lead after the opening period on goals by Max McCue and Kasper Halttunen.

A line of McCue, Ruslan Gazizov and and Ryan Humphrey forced a turnover inside the Sarnia blue line. Gazizov found McCue who snapped a shot past Nick Surzycia to make it 1-0 at the 10:54 mark.

Kasper Halttunen scored his first goal in a Knights uniform just over four minutes later. He got enough of the puck on a four-way passing play to get it over the goal line on a London power play.

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Easton Wainwright of Sarnia went awkwardly into the boards in the London zone in the opening period. He was ultimately taken off the ice on a stretcher. Wainwright is a player that the Sting are hoping can provide some of the offence that they lost to graduation after the team went on its longest playoff run in club history in 2022-23.

The Sting came out hard in the second period and a couple of early chances turned into a goal by Ryan Brown just 44 seconds after the opening faceoff. Brown was Sarnia’s first round pick in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection.

Over-ager Marko Sikic tied the game with a goal for the Sting that came off a wrist shot at the 7:25 mark of the second period. Then Zach Filak knocked in the eventual game winning goal as he got his stick on a bouncing puck in front of the Knight net during a Sarnia man-advantage with 1:31 to go in the second.

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London’s best chance of the middle frame came when Ruslan Gazizov raced in on a breakaway only to have the puck roll on his stick. The Knights forward recovered to backhand a pass to a charging Humphrey, but he was denied by Surzycia.

Sting goalie Karsen Chartier entered the game late in the second period and stopped the only shot he faced before the horn sounded, and then all 12 shots London put on the net in the third period.  Surzycia’s added 26 saves on 28 shots for Sarnia through the first 35 minutes and 10 seconds of the game.

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Zach Bowen played the entire game for the Knights and stopped 16 of 19 Sting shots.

The two teams will meet again on Sunday, Sept 10 in Sarnia, Ont., at 2 p.m.