Saginaw, MI – The Saginaw Spirit was unable to close out the Guelph Storm Friday evening in Game Five of the Western Conference Championship Series. The Spirit was shutout for just the second time this season, 4-0 at home.
Saginaw leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2 and will attempt to capture the Wayne Gretzky Trophy on the road in Game Six Sunday, April 28 at 2:00 p.m.
Rookie Tristan Lennox made 39 saves in defeat and earned Game Five’s third-star in the effort.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov collected his first career postseason hattrick in a four-point effort for Guelph.
Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich stopped all 20 Saginaw Spirit shots to earn his second career postseason shutout.
Saginaw rookie goaltender Lennox and Guelph Storm’s Popovich were the story early in Game Five. The two goaltenders matched each other save-for-save in the first period.
The Spirit had a great opportunity to take the lead early in the first period of play after the Storm gave the puck away behind their net. New York Islanders draft pick Blade Jenkins found Nicholas Porco in the slot for a one-time chance that was denied by Guelph goaltender Anthony Popovich.
Saginaw had several chances with a delayed penalty, but Popovich was able to keep the game scoreless in the first period.
16-year old Lennox stoned Philadelphia Flyers second round pick Isaac Ratcliffe point-blank midway through the first period. The rookie net-minder challenged Ratcliffe’s shot from the top of the right circle and made the pad save.
Lennox made another save three minutes later against Chicago Blackhawks signee MacKenzie Entwistle. Entwistle tried a wrist shot from the right face-off dot that was denied by a blocker while the rookie hugged the right-post.
Saginaw nearly took advantage of a Guelph line-change late in the first period on a two-on-one rush. 2017 Florida Panthers first round selection Owen Tippett set up Saginaw alternate captain Brady Gilmour in the slot.
The Detroit Red Wings prospect’s deke attempt was kept out of the net by Popovich to keep the game tied after the first 20 minutes of play.
The shots were even through the first period, 12-12 and each team went zero-for-one on the man-power advantage.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov broke the scoreless tie for the Storm 5:33 into the second period. The Russian defenseman drifted down to the slot from the point and roofed a backhander over Lennox’s shoulder for his sixth goal of the postseason.
With an assist on the play, Montreal Canadiens signee Nick Suzuki extended his point streak to 10 games.
The Storm made it a two-score game with 4:43 left in the second period with a goal by Guelph captain Ratcliffe in the slot. On a scramble in front of the net, a rebound squeaked to the side of the net where Ratcliffe poked the puck into the Spirit goal.
Guelph scored their third goal of the game on the man-power advantage with just over two minutes left in the second period. Samorukov notched his second goal of the game with a turn around shot from the slot.
The Spirit mustered just three shots on goal in the second period of play and Guelph took a 3-0 lead into the second intermission.
Guelph defenseman Samorukov completed the hattrick 1:44 into the final frame on a nice individual effort. The Volgograd, Russia native skated down from the point and flipped a shot top-shelf for his fourth point of the evening.
Los Angeles Kings signee Sean Durzi extended his point streak to 10 games with an assist on the play.
Lennox made saves in the final frame to keep the Spirit within reach but the Spirit was unable to find the back of the net.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Dmitri Samorukov (GUE) 3G, A
- Anthony Popovich (GUE) SO, 20 saves
- Tristan Lennox (SAG) 39 saves
The Spirit will attempt to close out the Western Conference Championship series Sunday, April 28 on the road for Game Six. Puck drop from the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ontario is at 2:00 p.m.
Fans can follow all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop for all your pregame coverage.
Game seven, if necessary, will be back at The Dow Event Center on Monday, April 29 at 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for Game Seven are available on saginawspirit.com, ticketmaster.com, and in person at the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street in Saginaw.