Friday, January 11, 2019
London, ON – A game-winning penalty shot on the road Friday at the Budweiser Gardens marked the end of seven straight games without a loss for the Saginaw Spirit, dropping a 4-1 final against the London Knights.
In what was a matchup between two of the top three franchises in the OHL Western Conference, the Spirit carried a 12-game point streak dating back to December 6, which earned them an honorable mention in the latest Kia CHL Top 10 Rankings.
Saginaw still controls that third-place standing in the conference but falls further behind the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the West Division lead by three points. It’s only the third regulation loss for the Spirit under the guidance of Chris Lazary.
The Knights started off with four shots on goal in the first 90 seconds of play. Powered by an offensive coalition led by overage forward Kevin Hancock, who is third in league scoring with 67 points, London’s pressure would not allow a shot attempt for Saginaw until 6:17.
Going on the power play twice and killing one after 20 minutes, the Spirit extended their first goal streak to six games on Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod’s 14th of the season and second with his new club.
As veteran winger Cole Coskey drifted to the center and dropped the puck to McLeod inside the right circle, the 19-year-old had an open lane to strike first with 19:17 left in the second period.
McLeod, drafted by the Oilers in the second round (40th overall) in the 2018 NHL Draft, has recorded two goals and three assists for five points since coming to Saginaw on January 3.
Coskey, who recently had his 10-game point streak snapped last Sunday against the Sudbury Wolves, leads the team in points (48) and is third in assists (27).
Immediately off the faceoff at 5:29, 2018 Vancouver Canucks fourth rounder Paul Cotter fired a one-timer in the slot for his fifth goal of the season and 1-1 tie.
It was the first of two straight goals before the third period by the Knights, who caught a significant break with six minutes remaining on the successful penalty shot.
Delivering the puck into the offensive zone from the left side, Liam Foudy, a 2018 first round (18th overall) NHL draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets, sent his shot to the opposite end of his skating direction and past Ivan Prosvetov for the go-ahead lead.
Also taken with the 18th pick in the OHL Priority Selection two years ago, Foudy ranks fifth for London in goals (16) and points (33) this season.
Prosvetov, the reigning CHL Goaltender of the Week, entered Friday leading the league in shutouts (3) and the second-most wins (21) among all OHL goaltenders.
Less than 30 seconds following the opening power play in the third for the Knights, Cotter would notch his second multi-point outing in back-to-back games at 5:11, with Joey Keane and Alec Regula being credited with the assist.
It’s the first game in 13 days that Prosvetov has given up more than two goals. His record stands at 21-6-1-0 through 32 appearances.
With his NHL rights owned by the Arizona Coyotes, Prosvetov descends to a 3.00 goals against average (GAA) with a .904 save percentage (SAV%). The loss ends an eight-game winning streak for the first-year OHL backstopper.
Trailing by two in the final frame with just over five minutes left to play, the Spirit were gifted with a double-minor power play, but the second half of the man-up opportunity would be negated with a penalty of their own.
Putting an end to the historic winning streak officially would occur with 1:26 remaining as Hancock garnered his 33rd goal of the season for a team-high, sliding it through on the empty netter.
Saginaw finished 0-for-5 on the power play, attempting double-digit shots on goal in the final two periods and killed four penalties.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
1. Paul Cotter (LDN) – 2G, +2
2. Liam Foudy (LDN) – G, +3
3. Joseph Raaymakers (LDN) – W, 27 SVs
Underground Railroad, Inc., Bay Area Women’s Center and Shelterhouse have partnered with the Spirit to present the first annual “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” game this Saturday at The Dow Event Center.
$13.00 upper level fundraising tickets are available for purchase as Saginaw hosts West Division rival Windsor Spitfires at 7:05 p.m. $5 from each ticket sold will support domestic violence victims in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Live coverage is on OHLLive.com, the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk & Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers. “Countdown to Faceoff” with host Domenic Papa starts 15 minutes before puck drop.
To purchase your tickets for all Saginaw home games, call (989) 497-7747, visit saginawspirit.com, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.