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Generals cling to playoff hopes

Sunday's loss to Sarnia brings Oshawa's losing streak to five games

Oshawa Generals

The Sarnia Sting came out with force in the first period, out-muscling the young Oshawa team multiple times during the Jan. 17 game. Here, Jack Studnicka is knocked to the ice as he attempts to retrieve the puck along the sideboards.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A pair of solid periods were not enough to make up for a slow start against the Sarnia Sting on Jan. 17.

The Oshawa Generals fell behind by two in the first period in a game they would get within inches of tying in the third period, but eventually lose 4-2 in front of more than 5,000 fans at the General Motors Centre.

Head coach Bob Jones was not impressed with his team’s performance in the opening frame, which saw a pair of Sting markers off the sticks of Anthony Salinitri and former Oshawa General Matt Mistele, along with Oshawa only placing three shots on net.

“Obviously, we’ve got to come out and be a lot sharper in the first period. I thought we had way too many neutral zone turnovers,” Jones said.

The messy play in neutral ice was enough to thwart the strong puck movement of his defense, Jones added.

“I thought our D did a good job getting it to our wingers and from blue line to blue line, we just continued to turn the puck over and that’s unacceptable.”

Oshawa Generals

Oshawa General Alex Renaud charges the net off a short-handed breakaway in the second period. Renaud’s goal would bring the Generals within one, but it’s the closest they would come.

The first period was also a physical one, with Sarnia using some physical dominance to control the play and knock Oshawa’s young roster off the puck several times.

“We’ve got to be ready to be played physically,” Jones said. “We wanted to go out and establish a physical game, but when we can’t get the puck deep on a forecheck early, it’s hard to establish that. I thought as the game went on, we might have created a few more chances by getting pucks deep.”

Early in the second, Oshawa’s Alex Renaud would put one over on his former club to bring Oshawa within one. However, only five seconds later, the Sting would be on the powerplay and Travis Konecny would restore the two-goal lead.

Lukas Lofquist would score late in the period for the Gens, bringing the score to 3-2.

Despite several powerplay attempts in the third and a close call that almost found its way into the back of the Sarnia net with the extra attacker, Konecny would add the insurance marker in the Gens’ empty net to seal the 4-2 victory.

Jeremy Brodeur got the start for Oshawa, stopping 17 of 20 shots, and despite a weak backhand that found its way under his pad in the first, Jones said he was happy with his starter’s performance.

“I thought he was very good in the second half of the game. He made some really good saves when the game was on the line and gave us a chance to win tonight,” he said.

The loss marks the fifth straight for Oshawa and leaves them fighting for a playoff spot, sitting only two points ahead of the ninth-place Hamilton Bulldogs in the Ontario Hockey’s League’s Eastern Conference.

The losing streak dates back to a 5-2 loss to the Kingston Frontenacs on Jan. 8.

For Renaud, the mood in the dressing room is a little down at this point in the season.

“It’s a little damp right now,” Renaud said. “We’re not winning games that we obviously want to win. We’re trying to push for the playoffs here.”

Oshawa travels to Ottawa on Jan. 22 to take on the 67s before returning home on Jan. 24 for a critical game against the Bulldogs who are looking to get back into the playoff race.

Sunday’s game is slated for an early start, with puck drop set for 3 p.m.