As the hockey world shifts its focus to the upcoming NHL season, fans and experts alike are buzzing about the potential of the Sarnia Sting. This once-struggling team has experienced a remarkable transformation in the past few years, going from the bottom of the standings to one of the top contenders in the league. And while their story may not be as widely known as some of the more successful franchises, the turnaround of the Sarnia Sting is a remarkable one that deserves to be told.
Located in Sarnia, Ontario, the Sting have been a part of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) since 1994. As a junior hockey team, their main purpose is to develop young players in preparation for a career in the NHL. However, for many years, the Sarnia Sting had a difficult time finding success in the OHL. They were considered one of the weaker teams in the league, consistently finishing near the bottom of the standings.
But then, something changed. In the 2012-2013 season, the Sting made their first playoff appearance in five years, eventually reaching the second round. This may not seem like a huge feat, but for a team that had missed the playoffs for so long, it was a step in the right direction. And little did anyone know, this was only the beginning of the Sting’s turnaround.
The following season, the Sting made it all the way to the OHL finals, cementing their place as a top team in the league. They ultimately lost to the powerhouse London Knights, but their success did not go unnoticed. It was evident that something special was brewing in Sarnia, and it was only a matter of time before they would be a serious contender for the OHL championship.
And that time came in 2015-2016. Led by star players such as Pavel Zacha and Travis Konecny, the Sting dominated the regular season, finishing with an impressive 42-19-3-4 record. They then went on to sweep their first-round playoff series and make it all the way to the OHL finals once again. This time, they faced the Niagara IceDogs and emerged victorious, winning their first-ever OHL championship.
This was a historic moment for the Sarnia Sting, as it was their first league championship in 22 years of existence. The team and its fans were overjoyed, finally seeing their hard work and dedication pay off. And while they fell short in the Memorial Cup (a tournament for the champions of the Canadian Hockey League), the Sarnia Sting had firmly established themselves as a top team in the OHL.
Since then, the Sting have continued to be a force to be reckoned with in the league. They have consistently made the playoffs and have had several players drafted into the NHL, including current Edmonton Oilers forward, Connor McDavid. In the 2018-2019 season, the Sting once again made it to the OHL finals, but unfortunately fell short to the strong Ottawa 67’s. However, this only fuelled their determination to come back even stronger the following year.
And come back strong they did. In the 2019-2020 season, the Sarnia Sting finished first in their division and second in the league. Once again, they had a dominant regular season and looked poised to make another run at the OHL championship. However, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the playoffs, leaving the Sting and their fans wondering what could have been.
But with their success in recent years, the Sarnia Sting have proven that they are a force to be reckoned with in the OHL. And while they may not be the most well-known team in the league, it’s clear that the hockey world should pay attention to their rise to the top. From being a struggling franchise to a consistent powerhouse, the Sarnia Sting have shown that anything is possible with determination, hard work, and a little bit of luck.
It’s easy to overlook teams that are not always in the spotlight. But the story of the Sarnia Sting serves as a reminder that every team has the potential to turn their fortunes around and become a top contender. And as hockey fans, we should never underestimate the underdogs, as their journey to success may be one of the most inspiring stories in sports.