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Sting prepare to return without spectators, Tarasevich

The Sarnia Sting are scheduled to return to action Friday with no fans in the stands.

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The Sarnia Sting will return to action Friday without fans in the stands.

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They’ll also be without first-year forward Nikita Tarasevich, 18, after trading him Wednesday to the North Bay Battalion for the Kitchener Rangers’ eighth-round pick in this year’s Ontario Hockey League draft.

The five-foot-nine, 170-pound Tarasevich had two goals and three assists in 20 games. He was a 10th-round draft pick in 2019.

The Sting haven’t played since Dec. 12. They’ve had five games postponed since then because of the OHL’s COVID-19 protocols.

“We’re full steam ahead,” general manager Dylan Seca said in an interview. “We’re practising, preparing for Friday night’s home game against Saginaw.”

OHL teams are allowed to play under the province’s updated COVID-19 restrictions, but the 17 franchises in Ontario will have to go without spectators for at least three weeks.

The OHL announced after a board of governors meeting Wednesday the league remains committed to continuing this season.

“The OHL is currently in conversation with government and public health and will have further updates in this area in the very near future,” said an OHL statement.

Starting Wednesday, no spectators are permitted in Ontario’s sports and recreation facilities until at least Jan. 26. That 21-day period includes five Sting games at Progressive Auto Sales Arena: Friday versus Saginaw; Wednesday, Jan. 12, versus Owen Sound; Friday, Jan. 14, versus Windsor; Wednesday, Jan. 19, versus Flint; and Friday, Jan. 21, versus Owen Sound.

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The Sting are also scheduled to play five road games in the next three weeks.

Despite the restrictions, Seca is thrilled for the chance to play again.

“It’s great. The energy is really high,” he said. “Everyone’s excited to be back.

“Some of our guys have obviously gone through some COVID protocols, so, with that, it’s just great to be back. That’s their mindset. They’re happy, they’re excited, the energy’s really, really high.”

Two of the Sting’s five postponed games have been rescheduled. The Jan. 19 home game was originally slated for Dec. 17. The Sting will also visit Owen Sound on Tuesday, March 22, for a game postponed Dec. 18.

The Sting dealt Tarasevich in advance of Monday’s trade deadline. The resident of Birmingham, Mich., signed with Sarnia after walking away from a scholarship offer to Michigan State.

“Nikita is a player who has immersed himself in our program,” Seca said in a statement. “A great team player, in the end we felt this move allows him to get a better opportunity to play.”

Battalion general manager Adam Dennis said Tarasevich “has a lot of upside” and will add to the Troops’ depth.

Sting season-ticket holders will receive a credit for games when fans aren’t allowed to attend. Credit will be held in their season-ticket account and can be applied for either playoff tickets or a deposit towards 2022-23 season tickets.

Single-game ticket-holders will be contacted by the Sting.

Tickets for postponed games will be honoured on the makeup dates.

The Sting also remind fans they can watch games on YourTV Sarnia if they have Cogeco cable TV, stream games on CHL TV and listen on CHOK-FM 103.9.

The Sting’s box office is scheduled to reopen Wednesday, Jan. 26, at 10 a.m.

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