SARNIA -- It's been a long time since the London Knights were the cure for what ails the Sarnia Sting.
The Knights opened the new year on a less than festive note and left feeling frustrated by spectacular Sarnia goalie Ryan Nie, the officials and the opposing fans in a 5-2 loss to the Sting before 4,225 last night at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.
London lost its second game in three outings since the holiday break and Sarnia busted up a nine-game losing funk, winning for just the second time in its past 19 games. Strangely, both those Sting victories were against conference leaders -- Peterborough on Dec. 1 and the Knights.
London, which faces suspensions to David Jarram, Kris Belan and Matt Davis for a trio of fights during the same stoppage of play late in the third period, complained about a controversial missed goal in the first period by Dylan Hunter and tried to have some rowdy fans removed behind their bench near the end of the game.
Down 1-0 in the first, Hunter appeared to have tied it when his high bullet beat Nie and bounced quickly out of the net but was waved off after a long conference between the four officials and the goal judge determined the puck never crossed the goal line.
"The red light went on, the water bottle went up in the air, one ref thought it was in and the other (Shaun Davis) didn't and they didn't count it," Dylan Hunter said. "That hurt. They count it and it completely changes the way the game is played."
"If you want to talk about a TSN turning point, that was it," head coach Dale Hunter added. "They made their decision and didn't count it but it went in so what do you do?"
Like their last visit to Kitchener on Dec. 7, the Knights were angry that a couple of fans spit on them when emotions ran high late in the contest.
"Nobody likes to be goobered on," Dale Hunter said. "That's not part of the game. It's unacceptable."
"We expect to be yelled at, but it crosses the line when people start spitting and throwing things," Dylan Hunter added.
"We've been in here how many times and played how many heated games in Sarnia, but this was the first time it happpened here. It was just a couple of rodeos (crazy fans).
"But Jordan Foreman got it and we had 16, 17-year-old guys just coming into the league being spit on. (Reserve) Kelan Herr got spit on and he wasn't even playing."
To make matters worse, the Knights couldn't beat the lightning-quick Nie's glove hand all night.
Foreman, who went through the legs for the game-winner on Saturday night in London, chose five-hole again on a first-period breakaway but was denied by Nie.
"I wasn't going to let that happen again," the 20-year-old puckstopper said. "(On his terrific trapper) I did play baseball growing up. I was shortstop and third base (where it's important to have a quick glove) but I stopped playing at about age 11 when I got serious about hockey."
After routinely beating London with Guelph a couple of years ago, Sarnia head coach Shawn Camp finally beat the Knights in his 10th game against them as the Sting skipper.
"If you hang with a team like that and stay in it, you're going to beat them sooner or later," Camp said.
"We're finally getting our players back and our full lineup for the first time since Thanksgiving and the guys have had a completely different mindset since we got Ryan Nie. This was a huge win for us and we know we need to start beating the teams a little lower in the standings."
Nie kicked aside 36 shots for his first win since coming to Sarnia in a trade with Toronto.
Sting 5, Knights 2
Sarnia goals: Ryan McInerney, Nick Tuzzilino, Harrison Reed, Chad Painchaud (2)
London goals: Josh Beaulieu, Dylan Hunter
Next: London heads to Kitchener to face the Rangers tomorrow at 7 p.m.