Caria sticks it to Sting

DAVE PAUL, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

SARNIA -- A fast start gave the Sarnia Sting visions of a 2-0 series lead, but Matt Caria got in the way.

Sarnia's combination of hard work and stellar goaltending wasn't enough to overcome the scoring skills of the offensively gifted Whalers as Plymouth pulled out a 3-2 overtime win to knot the OHL Western Conference quarterfinal 1-1.

Caria scored all three Whalers goals -- two of them on the power play and one just seconds after a power play ended.

It was a discouraging loss for Sarnia, which took a 2-0 lead just over five minutes into the first period.

Hardworking Marcus Pepe chipped the puck over a lunging Plymouth goalie Matt Hackett at 2:02 and Matt Martin jammed the puck over the goal line -- barely -- at 5:03 to give the 2,972 fans at Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre hope the fifth-seeded Sting could pull off a second straight win over the fourth-seeded Whalers.

But Caria scored at 12:35 of the first period, then he tied the game on a five-on-three power play with 27 seconds left in the second.

After a scoreless third, Caria potted the winner on a power play just over five minutes into overtime.

Sarnia, missing all-star defenceman Mark Katic with an injury, again leaned hard on goalie Dan Spence, as they were badly outshot for the second straight game. Spence made 52 saves in a 2-0 Game 1 win on Saturday, then faced 49 shots last night.

Sting coach Dave MacQueen said Sarnia has to take advantage of every opportunity it gets against Plymouth.

"(Justin) DiBenedetto and (Jesse) Stoughton both had great opportunities in the last five minutes of the third and they missed the net," he said.

"I thought we were very competitive five-on-five. They just beat us with their special teams . . . Our power play was non-existent."


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