Guelph, ON – The Saginaw Spirit suffered their first setback in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals, 5-2 against the Guelph Storm Monday evening.
The Spirit still lead the Western Conference Championship series, 2-1. Game Four from the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ontario is Wednesday, April 24 at 7:00 p.m.
16-year old Tristan Lennox made 41 saves in a losing effort for the game’s third-star honor.
Guelph’s Cedric Ralph scored the game-winner for the Storm early in the third period of play.
The Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) leading scorer in the post-season Nick Suzuki added two assists in Game Three for the Storm.
The Storm came out hard in the first shift of the game to test the rookie goaltender Tristan Lennox with three shots in the first minute of play.
2017 Florida Panthers 10th overall pick Owen Tippett had a great opportunity to give the Spirit an early lead. The right-winger blocked a shot from a Guelph defender at the Saginaw blue-line and came down on a breakaway.
Tippett took an in-close wrist shot that was just fought off by Guelph goaltender Anthony Popovich to keep the game scoreless.
Philadelphia Flyers second-rounder Isaac Ratcliffe was stoned by the rookie Saginaw net-minder in the first period on a two-on-one rush. The post-season’s leading scorer Nick Suzuki slid a pass to Ratcliffe, but the Guelph captain’s one-timer was denied by Lennox.
Lennox, the 2018 second round pick of the Saginaw Spirit, continued his strong first period play with a breakaway attempt by Guelph’s Cedric Ralph. Ralph used his speed to cut to the center of the ice, but the Saginaw goaltender patiently slid across to make the save.
With just over four minutes left in the first period, the Storm took the lead with Zachary Roberts second goal of the post-season. Toronto Maple Leaf prospect Fedor Gordeev’s shot from the point was redirected by Roberts past Lennox to give Guelph a 1-0 lead.
Saginaw nearly tied the game late in the first frame with Detroit Red Wings draft pick Brady Gilmour all alone in front of the crease. Saginaw first round pick Cole Perfetti hit the Saginaw center all alone in the slot with a nice pass. Gilmour made a nice deke but could not get the shot over the Guelph goaltender’s pads.
The Spirit was outshot 16-5 through the first 20 minutes of play, but only trailed by one goal due to Lennox’s strong play.
Suzuki and Ratcliffe combined in an early second period goal to make it a 2-0 Storm lead. Suzuki dropped a pass off to the Guelph captain and Ratcliffe put a wrist shot over Lennox’s shoulder for his eighth goal of the post-season.
The Storm nearly made it a three-goal lead on a three-on-one rush just a minute after the Ratcliffe goal. Chicago Blackhawks prospect MacKenzie Entwistle redirected a pass in the slot that the 16-year old Lennox denied with a huge pad save to keep the game within reach.
Just seconds after the Lennox save, Overager Albert Michnac set up Tippett for his 10th goal of the post-season to cut the Storm lead to one. Tippett sniped a wrist shot top-shelf over the Guelph goaltender Popovich’s shoulder for the goal.
Spirit defenseman Hayden Davis almost brought Saginaw back even with five minutes left in the second period. After the puck trickled back to the point from the slot, Davis wound-up for a slap shot that was denied by a nice glove save by Popovich.
Saginaw tied the game just over a minute left in the second period with tic-tac-toe passing. Zion, Illinois native Cole Coskey passed to Perfetti at the right of the crease and the left-winger found overage defenseman Reagan O’Grady across the slot for the one-timer for his second goal of this year’s playoffs.
The teams headed into the second intermission tied, 2-2.
Guelph regained the lead early in the third period with Cedric Ralph’s first goal of this season’s playoffs. Los Angeles Kings defensive prospect Sean Durzi’s pass was redirected into the Spirit net by Ralph to make it a 3-2 Guelph lead.
Coskey nearly got the goal back four minutes later with a rush into the Storm zone. The Spirit right-winger used his speed to go wide around a Storm defender a launched a wrist shot off the crossbar.
After O’Grady was called for an interference penalty with just seven minutes left in regulation, Arizona third-rounder Nate Schnarr gave Guelph a two-goal lead on the man-power advantage.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Dmitri Samorukov’s shot from the point was deflected by Schnarr into the Spirit net for his fifth goal of the post-season.
Keegan Stevenson added an empty-netter with 1:58 left in regulation to give the Storm a 5-2 victory in Game Three.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Cedric Ralph (GUE) G, A +1
- Fedor Gordeev (GUE) A, +1
- Tristan Lennox (SAG) 41 saves
The Western Conference Finals continues Wednesday, April 24 as the Spirit will look to steal a game on the road from the Storm. Puck drop for Game Four from the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, Ontario will be 7:00 p.m.
Fans can follow all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and fmtalk1005.com with the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop for all your pregame coverage.
Fans can also watch the game live from the Saginaw Spirit “Watch Party” from the 2690 Tittabawassee Road Buffalo Wild Wings location.
The Saginaw Spirit returns home for Game Five of the Western Conference Finals Friday, April 26 at 7:05 p.m. from The Dow Event Center.
Tickets for Game Five are available on saginawspirit.com, ticketmaster.com, The Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street in Saginaw, The Dow Event Center Box Office, and by phone at (989) 497-7747