ERIE, PA.   On Saturday night, the Saginaw Spirit and the Erie Otters met for their final meeting of the season. The Spirit were able to comeback from a three-goal deficit in the first period. Despite the comeback, the Spirit were unable to end the Otters unblemished home record. With a 9-4 decision over the Spirit, the Otters have picked up points in 27 consecutive home games dating back to the 2015-16 season.  

The first period was aggressive with both teams capitalizing on their scoring opportunities. Only 32 seconds into the period Alex DeBrincat carried the puck out of the Otter zone and passed to Tyalor Raddysh, who charged up the left side into the Spirit zone. A backhanded shot in front of Brendan Bonello would put the Otters on the board first. Darren Raddysh also assisted on the play.

At 4:28, Kyle Maksimovich set up Mitchell Byrne from the bottom of the left circle. Byrne took a slap shot at the top of the circles to send the puck to the back of the net, earning his second goal of the season.

If the two-point advantage over the Spirit wasn’t enough, Kyle Pettit shot the puck from the top of the right circle, his shot hit the post and fell in front of Christian Girhiny at the goalie crease. Girhiny went for the rebound which also bounced off of the post but Girhiny found a way to put the puck in the back of the net for their third goal of the period. Kyle Maksimovich also drew an assist on the play at 10:15 of the period.

The following six minutes would allow the Spirit to score three goals of their own to tie the game. At 10:35, Kris Bennett found the puck behind the net and sent it to Hayden Hodgson, who passed across the net to Matthew Kreis, earning his ninth goal of the season.

Spirit captain Keaton Middleton took a sharp shot from the top of the left circle, passing two Otters’ players and the right side of Joseph Murdaca. The second goal of the year for the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect cut the Otters advantage to 3-2. Also assisting on the goal at 14:16 of the period was Filip Hronek.

Keaton Middleton and D.J. Busdeker got the puck into the Otter zone and set up Brady Gilmour who backhanded it into the net at 16:41 of the period to tie the game. Gilmour continues to build on a career-high with his 21st goal of the season.

Alex DeBrincat passed from the right side of the net up to Anthony Cirelli, who shot from the circle to the top right of the net to put the Otters back in the lead. Dylan Strome also picked up an assist on the play at 19:07 of the period. Shots on goal in the first period favored the Otters 17-9 and the Otters led, 4-3.

In the second period, the aggression continued as the Otters earned three more goals. Taylor Raddysh passed the puck to Alex DeBrincat, who attempted to score but was stopped by Bonello. Dylan Strome found the puck and slid it through Marcus Crawford and Brendan Bonello to earn his 13th goal of the season. The play at 17:15 earned Alex DeBrincat his 300th career OHL point and was the sixth American to reach this achievement in the Modern Era of the OHL. Shortly after at 18:07, Alex DeBrincat carried the puck into the Spirit zone and drop passed to Dylan Strome, who set up DeBrincat for his 301st career point with a goal to the left side of Bonello. Also assisting on the play was Taylor Raddysh. With 12 seconds left, Kyle Pettit wrapped around the left side of the net to tally his 23rd goal of the season. Drawing assists on the play were Christian Girhiny and Mitchell Byrne. Shots on goal in the second period favored the Otters, 16-10 and the Otters led, 7-3.

The third period brought another three goals to the score board. Warren Foegele and Anthony Cirelli sent the puck in front of the net to Ivan Lodnia, who snuck behind the Spirit defense to put the puck in the net at 5:54 of the period. At 10:58, Kris Bennett and Hayden Hodgson set up Marcus Crawford for his fourth goal of the season. The Otters Kyle Maksimovich set up Taylor Raddysh for his 33rd goal of the season, scoring on the left side of Bonello at 11:13 of the period. Final shots on goal favored the Otters, 43-26.

Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:

1.      Taylor Raddysh (ER) – 2G, 2A, +4

2.      Alex DeBrincat (ER) – G, 3A, +3

3.      Dylan Strome (ER) – G, 2A, +4

The Saginaw Spirit head to Mississauga on Sunday, February 12. The puck drops at 2:00 p.m. against the Mississauga Steelheads.

Photo: Keith Dotson, OHL Pucks & Stripes


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