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Sting lose shootout to Petes

The Sarnia Sting are still missing four players away at NHL camps, and head coach Alan Letang is happy they’re gone.

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The Sarnia Sting are still missing four players away at NHL camps, and head coach Alan Letang is happy they’re gone.

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They’re learning some valuable lessons that’ll come in handy once they return to the Ontario Hockey League, he said.

“It gives those guys an opportunity to play at that high level and then when they come back, a lot of those messages that they’re being told up there are just reiterated from what we’re saying,” Letang said. “It almost proves the point when myself and Brad (Staubitz, the Sting’s associate coach) are talking about things that we need to do, all those little things.

“They’re hearing it up at that (NHL) level, so they know, ‘You know what? I’ve got to do this in junior to make that next step, whether it’s American league or NHL or Europe for that matter.’ The game changes as you get older. It becomes way more competitive and all those little things matter.”

The Sting suffered a 4-3 shootout loss to the Petes on Thursday at the Peterborough Memorial Centre in the OHL pre-season.

Missing were goalies Ben Gaudreau and Anson Thornton, who were invited to the main camps of the San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes, respectively. Defenceman Ryan Mast was also away with the Boston Bruins and fellow blue-liner Cameron Supryka is with the Los Angeles Kings.

Forward Nolan Dann was back in the Sting’s lineup after attending the Coyotes’ development camp. He had their lone shootout goal.

Forwards Brayden Guy and Ty Voit have also rejoined the Sting after playing for the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively, in the NHL Prospect Tournament, but neither dressed Thursday.

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Ashton Reesor, Nolan Dillingham and Ben Lalkin scored in regulation for the Sting, who erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits.

The Petes outscored the Sting 2-1 in a four-round shootout.

Goalie Keegan Jackson, 17, of Jarvis, Ont., was in net for the Sting. He made 34 saves in his junior debut.

Letang said earlier in the week he was not yet seeing the hunger he wants from the players.

“No, definitely not,” Letang said. “It’s getting there. I understand that it’s going to be a bit of a process when you’ve had two age groups that haven’t played competitive hockey for a year.”

The Sting had 10 skaters in the lineup who haven’t played in an OHL regular-season game.

“It’s tough to manage 10 (new) guys all at once when you’re lacking a few of those vets that are away,” Letang said. “The biggest thing is just getting rid of some of those habits from playing summer hockey and getting out with skills coaches. The game’s played so much differently when you’re five-on-five and it’s competitive.

“I still want to see a lot more bite and a lot more jam from our team, and we’re going to get there.”

Nick Lardis, Kaspars Ziemins and Samuel Mayer scored for the Petes in regulation. Michael Simpson made 29 saves.

NOTES: Veteran forward Nolan Burke, a Peterborough native, made his 2021 exhibition debut with the Sting after being out with a nagging injury. … The Sting (2-2-0-1) had been unbeaten on the road in the pre-season. … The Sting have played five pre-season games, more than any other OHL team. … Their finale will be against the Petes on Friday, Oct. 1, at Progressive Auto Sales Arena.

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