cheap custom nfl jerseys from china ‘Explosive’ Sting was GM’s goal
If you score around 340 goals a season as a team in the OHL, you’re going to have a really good chance of winning the league championship.
The surging Sarnia Sting, on the heels of the best month in their history, are on pace for 380. They probably can’t sustain that over 68 games but they’re fulfilling the vision of their fourth year GM Nick Sinclair.
“That’s the kind of skilled team I wanted when I came in as manager,” he said this week. “I wanted to build a team that was explosive offensively, could keep attacking night after night. Not just one line, but all four, and we’re seeing that right now.”
The Sting have the right offensive ingredients: three premier scorers in Jordan Kyrou, Adam Ruzicka and Drake Rymsha, plus a supporting cast with the ability to pitch in on a regular basis.
You need trusted veterans to deliver, plus a few surprises along the way.
“Adam Ruzicka has taken a big step from where he left off last year,” Sinclair said. “He’s come in and taken his game to another level. He’s been an effective player for us every single night.”
Brady Hinz, whose minutes were limited last year, had five goals as a rookie. He has 10 already and quickly advanced to the team’s second line. Franco Sproviero, who had 35 points a year ago, is nearly at a point per game pace now.
“Hinz had a big jump and Franco is giving us great production,” Sinclair said. “When we evaluate kids every year in the draft, skill and character are right at the top of the list. You can have all the skill in the world, but if a kid is not a character kid,
there’s going to be a problem on or off the ice for you. It usually doesn’t work out that well. We still have quite a few younger guys, but the way they have mixed in, and the way the veterans have led, it’s really helped.”
Sinclair called this the closest knit Sting team he has seen in his time as GM. You don’t reel off 13 straight wins at this level without players who enjoy spending time around each other.
And you certainly don’t do that without a surge of energy provided by the coaching staff. That’s co owner and assistant coach David Legwand’s personal touch this year.
“He comes to the rink every day with a smile on his face,” Sinclair said. “He never has a bad day, or bad minute for that matter. He brought excitement and encouragement to practices and on the bench during games. The combination of him and (co owner and head coach) Derian Hatcher has worked well together. They both have a ton of experience and are tremendous human beings.
“The mix of them together has been great so far for our group.”
The reason no one picked the Sting higher in pre season predictions was because of the inexperience of their back end and the state of the goaltending.
The defence has done the job and overage stopper Justin Fazio has been one of the best junior goalies in the country.
“Collectively, the group is committed to playing defence,” Sinclair said, “and you have two guys who have been through their ups and downs. Theo Calvas, who previously had limited opportunities at times and worked his way into the lineup last year, is leading the league in plus minus. Connor Schlichting had a full healthy year last season and is getting to where we thought he would be when we drafted him.
“In net, (backup) Aidan Hughes had a great start and has really solidified the one two combo with Justin. His game has matured and the confidence in him compared to where things were at times last year (has risen).”
The most important part of the streak is the local response to it.
“We had over 4,000 people Friday (against the Soo),” he said. “I don’t remember there being that many at a game this early in the year in a long time. There’s a pretty good buzz and hopefully, we can keep it going.”
The Sting are in good shape on their draft board to part with a few high picks if they need to later on this season. Sure, they got two second round picks back when Travis Konecny made the Flyers last year, but they also acquired a handful of early selections in moving Hayden Hodgson to Saginaw and Nikita Korestelev and Alex Black to Peterborough last season.
“We’re worried about getting better every day and to become a team that’s competitive where an off year is middle of the conference and not missing the playoffs,” Sinclair said. “We know this (win streak) won’t last forever. But hopefully, a loss is followed up by four or five more wins rather than a four game (skid).”