Guelph, ON – The Saginaw Spirit will host the Guelph Storm in a decisive Game seven after the Guelph Storm evened up the best-of-seven series, 3-3 with a 5-1 victory at home.
Game Seven of the Western Conference Finals is Monday, April 29 at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan. The Game Seven victor will take on the Ottawa 67’s in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Championship Series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
The Guelph Storm have six elimination games victories in this year’s playoffs.
Russian forward Pavel Gogolev collected two goals for the Storm, as well as the game-winning goal in the first period.
Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki extended his point streak to 11 games with a goal in the second period.
16-year old Tristan Lennox denied Philadelphia Flyers 35th overall pick Isaac Ratcliffe through a screen early in the first period. The Guelph captain took a wrist shot from the top of the right circle that was fought off by the rookie net-minder.
Guelph took the first period lead 8:35 into the first frame with Pavel Gogolev’s first goal of the Western Conference Championship Series. Saginaw turned the puck over in the defensive end to the Gogolev and the Moscow, Russia native roofed the puck over Lennox’s shoulder for his second goal of the postseason.
Gogolev nearly scored his second goal of the game just minutes later with a breakaway opportunity. The Russian forward attempted a deke to the backhand, however Lennox stayed with Gogolev for the save.
Spirit alternate captain D.J. Busdeker has covered defensively for the suspended Saginaw defenseman Justin Murray and saved a goal late in the first period. The Dexter, Michigan native identified the loose puck in the crease and cleared the puck before the Storm could send it into the open net.
The Saginaw Spirit trailed the Storm, 1-0 after the first frame and managed just four shots on goal. Guelph won the face-off battle, 15-4 after the first 20 minutes which helped the Storm control the puck.
After a delayed icing call was waved off early in the second period, Guelph defenseman Fedor Gordeev made it a 2-0 Storm lead. Dallas Stars fourth round pick Liam Hawel found Gordeev for the one-timer from the point for the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect’s second goal of the postseason.
The OHL’s postseason leading scorer Nick Suzuki made it a 3-0 game 7:52 into the second period. The Montreal Canadiens signee spun around and roofed a backhander over Lennox’s glove for his 12th tally of this season’s playoffs.
With the goal, the former Vegas Golden Knights 13th overall pick extended his postseason-best point streak to 11 games. Suzuki notched four points for the Storm in the 4-0 road victory in Game Five.
Guelph extended the lead to four goals just 28 seconds into the third period on the man-power advantage by Los Angeles Kings prospect Sean Durzi. The Storm defenseman collected a loose puck in the Spirit slot and chipped a shot over Lennox for the power play tally.
Durzi tied Guelph teammate Suzuki for the postseason-high 11-game point streak with the goal.
The Storm made it a five-goal game just 1:18 later with Gogolev’s second goal of the game. Hawel slid a pass to the left-winger and Gogolev took a wrist shot from the left face-off dot that beat the Saginaw goaltender.
Saginaw net-minder Lennox continued to make saves in the third period despite the score. The young goaltender stoned forward Keegan Stevenson with a toe save and denies Arizona Coyotes draft pick Nate Schnarr just seconds later with a chest save.
The Spirit found twine late in regulation on a redirection by forward Jake Goldowski. Defenseman Hayden Davis took a shot from the point that Goldowski tipped up into the top-shelf for his third goal of the postseason.
It was Saginaw’s first goal since Cole Perfetti’s third period tally in Game Four’s victory. Guelph net-minder Popovich played over 119 minutes of scoreless hockey in between the two Spirit markers.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Nick Suzuki (GUE) G, +1
- Pavel Gogolev (GUE) 2G, +3
- Isaac Ratcliffe (GUE) 2A, +1
The Western Conference Championship Series heads back to Saginaw for Game Seven Monday, April 29. The Spirit will look to make team-history on home ice and capture the Wayne Gretzky Trophy for the first time in team history. Puck drop from The Dow Event Center is at 7:05 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” with host Domenic Papa begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop for all your pregame coverage.
Tickets for Game Seven are available on saginawspirit.com, ticketmaster.com, at the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street in Saginaw, and at The Dow Event Center Box Office.