The Salt Lake Sting failed on a first-half penalty kick and watched helplessly in an overtime shootout as the San Francisco Blackhawks grabbed a 1-0 win Friday night at Derks Field.
The 1-6 Sting's on-field struggle seemed to mirror the off-field uncertainty that has the team's future up in the air as a Monday deadline to work out a new ownership package approaches.The Sting outshot the visiting Blackhawks 16-11 but missed a number of opportunities in the second half. San Francisco was forced to play short-handed most of the second half when defender Danny Pena was red carded following a vicious tackle on the Sting's Brad Smith. Smith had Pena beaten on the right side when Pena purposefully tripped Smith to prevent a breakaway. Pena received a yellow card midway through the first half on a play near midfield.
Defense, especially in the goal, was the hallmark of Friday's contest. Both the Sting's Mark Lehnert and the Blackhawks' Mark Dougherty played superbly. Lehnert picked up all three of his saves in the first half, including a spectacular block of a shot by Jeff Baichar on a direct kick. Lehnert managed to get a hand on a high drive to the upper right corner as he fell backward into the net, forcing the ball over the top.
Dougherty responded with an equally spectacular save on a penalty kick by the Sting's Smith. Smith tried to blast a ground-hugger into the left corner, but a diving Dougherty got both hands on the ball and cradled it into his chest for the save.
The Sting proved to be the aggressors for most of the game. Too aggressive at times, called offsides four times. The final offside came as time ran out in the second overtime. Smith took a field-length centering pass and beat Dougherty for what appeared to be the winning goal. The side referee, however, whistled Smith offside as time expired.
Despite having a man advantage in the second half, the Sting couldn't put together an effective drive.
The Sting finally came to life in the second overtime after dodging a bullet when Lehnert was unable to handle the ball as he came out on a shot from the right side. Fortunately defender Rich Ryerson was coming across the middle and managed to clear the ball from in front of the net.
Moments later the Sting just missed a sudden death win when a header by Smith hit the side post on the right side.
In the ensuing shootout, all five Black Hawks scored while Dougherty took away the Sting's second shot by Thor Lee to give the visitors the win.