Game Preview: Spirit aim to even with Greyhounds Sunday

Sault Ste. Marie, ON – Sunday afternoon, the Saginaw Spirit will aim to tie their best-of-seven series with the Soo Greyhounds, after a 5-2 setback in Game 1 on Friday night. This afternoon’s game begins at 3:00 p.m., and will be broadcast live nationally in Canada on Sportsnet and on tape delay on NHL Network in the U.S. at 8:00 p.m.


The Saginaw Spirit’s tight-checking, physical style seemed to stem the offensive opportunities early on for the No. 1 scoring team in the OHL during the regular season. But showing they do not need too many opportunities to strike, Metamora, Michigan’s Jack Kopacka broke in on Cormier all alone, and started the scoring in the series just 2:53 into the first period during 4-on-4 play.


Again, the Spirit continued to hang with the high-flying Hounds, exchanging opportunities in the first period, until it appeared Mason Kohn had a goal on his stick. Noah Carroll gave the puck to Kohn right in front of the Soo goal, but star goaltender Matthew Villalta was all over it and swallowed up the back hand.


When the first period had concluded, it the Spirit who had outshot Sault Ste. Marie and trailed by only the slimmest of margins.


The Spirit would equal the score when leading-goal scorer during the regular season, Cole Coskey broke into the offensive zone with Jake Goldowski. Goldowski slipped the puck back to Coskey who curled to the middle and snapped a sharp wrist shot past Villalta. Goldowski and Max Grondin picked up the Spirit goal at 6:14.


It was just a matter a time before the Soo top line of Katchouk, Frost, and Raddysh were going to break free after Saginaw’s by-committee checking finally relented. Taylor Raddysh scored two straight for the Hounds, extending a 3-1 advantage as time expired in the second period.


Saginaw had a powerplay to start the final frame, but found no luck and Mac Hollowell seemed to put the final touches on the night with a bank-shot mastery off of the end boards, and careening off Cormier’s back in to the net. Keeghan Howdeshell would score at 12:20 on the powerplay to extend the Hound lead to 5-1.


Ryan Stepien’s fourth line was buzzing late in the game, and his shot towards goal was defelcted past Villalta by Danny Katic to make the final, 5-2.


The Saginaw Spirit practiced Saturday at the Essar Centre and looked to get out of Game 1 with no major injuries. Everyone who played was skating, as well as scratches Tom Bappert and Ben Badalamenti. Brady Gilmour was not on the ice.


Game 2 begins today at 3:00 p.m. with live radio coverage on 100.5 WSGW-FM beginning at 2:45.

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