Sault Ste. Marie, MI – The Saginaw Spirit clinch a spot in the Western Conference Championship Series for the first time in team history with a 5-0 victory in Game Six over the Soo Greyhounds.
Arizona Coyotes draft pick Ivan Prosvetov stopped 34 Soo shots for his first career Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoff shutout.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Nicholas Porco notched the game-winner in the second period of play.
Saginaw awaits the winner of the London Knights and Guelph Storm series in the third round. Game One of the Western Conference Finals will be Friday, April 19 in London should the Knights win the series. Should Guelph prevail, the Spirit will host the Storm in Game One Thursday, April 18 at The Dow Event Center.
Saginaw’s Cole Coskey nearly gave the Spirit a lead in the first minute of the game. New York Islanders second-rounder Bode Wilde made it around a few Soo defenders and slid a pass over to Coskey at the right circle. The Zion, Illinois native’s wrist shot just miss the far side of the net and went wide.
Arizona Coyotes draft pick Ivan Prosvetov was tested early by the Soo’s Zack Trott. Trott received a pass from the top of the right face-off circle and rifled a wrist shot that Prosvetov snagged with his trapper.
Prosvetov made another big save while on a Soo man-power advantage to keep the game scoreless in the first period. While on his back side, Jaromir Pytlik attempted to jam the puck into the net and the Russian goaltender dove over an kept the puck out of the net.
Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Camaryn Baber had a great chance to put the Spirit on the board in the last minute of the period. The Saginaw center was all alone in the Soo zone on a breakaway, but Baber’s wrist shot was denied by Villalta.
The game was scoreless after 20 minutes of play and each team went zero-for-one with the man-power advantage in the first period.
The two Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native’s combined to give the Saginaw Spirit the lead in the second period. Baber fed 2019 NHL Draft prospect Nicholas Porco with a pass on a two-on-one rush and the right-winger tipped the puck into the Soo net. The goal was Porco’s third tally of the series against his hometown team.
It was the first-time the Saginaw Spirit had the lead in a game since Game Three’s victory over the Greyhounds.
Just over a minute after the Spirit took the lead, Saginaw alternate captain D.J. Busdeker was called for a high-sticking double-minor. The Spirit’s top-ranked shorthanded unit killed one of the biggest penalties in the post-season to keep the one-goal lead.
2018 Edmonton Oilers second-rounder Ryan McLeod gave the Spirit a 2-0 lead with just under four minutes left in the second period. Overager Albert Michnac round the Saginaw center at the point. McLeod skated down to the top of the slot and fired a wrist shot that squeaked between Villalta’s arm and body for the goal.
With his 4th goal of these playoffs, McLeod has 10 points in the 10 post-season games with the Saginaw Spirit.
Saginaw had the 9-7 second period edge in the shot department over the Soo Greyhounds.
Czech forward Michnac nearly made it a three-goal Saginaw lead early in the third period after Coskey fed him with a pass at the left circle. Michnac took a quick one-timer along the ice to hope Villalta over-pursue but the Soo goaltender denied the chance with his pad.
Saginaw’s net-minder Prosvetov continued to play well in the third period after Wilde was called for a delay of game penalty. The Russian goaltender stoned Soo defenseman Jacob LeGuerrier’s one-time point shot with a nice glove save to keep the Spirit ahead by two goals.
After a Soo turnover in the slot, Spirit captain Damien Giroux was alone in front of the Greyhounds net. The Minnesota Wild prospect made a great deke on Villalta to give the Saginaw a 3-0 lead just over 11 minutes into the third period with his sixth goal of the post-season.
The Spirit weathered a late Greyhounds storm and Wilde, the former University of Michigan commit, added an empty-net goal to make it a 4-0 Spirit lead.
Saginaw’s Jacob Goldowski added a late goal off a Soo turnover to give Saginaw the 5-0 Game Six victory.
Prosvetov notched his first career OHL playoffs shutout with the 34-save effort in Game Six.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Ivan Prosvetov (SAG) SO, 34 saves
- D.J. Busdeker (SAG) 2A, +2
- Damien Giroux (SAG) G, +1
The Saginaw Spirit await the second-round winner between the London Knights and Guelph Storm in the Western Conference Finals. If the Knights win Game Seven the Spirit will start the series in London Friday, April 19. If Guelph defeats London in Game Seven the Spirit will begin the series at home Thursday, April 18.
Tickets for the Western Conference Finals will be available on saginawspirit.com, ticketmaster.com, and at the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street in Saginaw beginning Monday, April 15 at 9:00 a.m.