SAGINAW, Mich. – The Saginaw Spirit opened the 2017 preseason schedule on Saturday night against their West Division rival, Soo Greyhounds. The Spirit’s young players were chomping at the bit to get on the ice for the first time at The Dow Event Center in front of their loyal fan base.
The Spirit controlled the pace of the game early in the first period registering the first four shots on goal. The Spirit had two power play opportunity to try to get on the board first, but came up empty thanks to the goaltending of Matthew Villalta. The Greyhounds struck first at 15:23 of the first period when Philadelphia Flyers first round pick Morgan Frost found himself alone in the slot and beat Evan Cormier on his blocker side. Colorado Avalanche prospect Conor Timmins and Holden Wale assisted on Frost’s first goal of the preseason. The Spirit continued to press in hopes of tying the game before the first period buzzer but to no avail. Despite outshooting the Greyhounds, 12-7, the Hounds took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.
The Sault Ste. Marie penalty kill pulled through early in the second period scoring a shorthanded breakaway goal from Keegan Howdeshell at 2:57. The unassisted goal put the Greyhounds up by two, 2-0. The Spirit got on the board for the first time at 14:10 when 2017 first round pick Nicholas Porco was the beneficiary of a turnover by the Greyhounds goaltender Matthew Villalta. Heavy forecheck pressure from Ryan Stepien caused Villalta to hand the puck to Max Grondin, who then slid the puck in front to Porco, who was staring at a yawning net. Porco’s first preseason OHL goal brought the Spirit back to within one goal of the Greyhounds. The Greyhounds held their 2-1 lead with the Spirit outshooting them 13-4 in the period.
The third period started with Jack Kopacka, 2016 Anaheim draft pick, scoring an unassisted goal at 2:26. Saginaw answered back shortly after with a tip-in goal from Cole Coskey off a shot from Brock Hill at 3:58. Hayden Davis picked up the other assist on the Coskey goal. Only seconds later, Saginaw struck again with a goal from Max Grondin tying the game 3-3. The Greyhounds attempted to take the lead again on a Spirit penalty. A solid Spirit penalty kill and a series of timely saves by goalie Evan Cormier, kept the game tied at 3-3 nearing the end of the third. With the clock winding down in the third, the Spirit looked to capitalize on a series of scoring chances during a battle in front of Villalta. Finally emerging with the puck was Spirit sophomore Damien Giroux, who fluttered the puck between the pads of the Soo Goalie. The Spirit held off a last-ditch effort from the Greyhounds, winning their first preseason game 4-3.
The Spirit’s next preseason game at The Dow Event Center is Friday, September 15th against the Flint Firebirds. General admission tickets are $7.00 and available by calling the Saginaw Spirit Store at (989) 497-7747 or log onto www.saginawspirit.com
Season Tickets for the 2017-18 season are on sale NOW! Reserve your seat at The Dow Event Center by calling (989) 497-7747 or visit www.saginawspirit.com for more information. YOUR Region. YOUR team. YOU’RE invited.
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