Sudbury, ON. – The Saginaw Spirit out-paced the Sudbury Wolves in a high-flying, 10-6 slugfest Friday evening on the road in Sudbury, Ontario in the second contest of their Northern Ontario three-game road trip.
The Spirit reached double-digit goals in a game for the second time this season, the first was 11 goals against the Sarnia Sting back on December 6.
Former Sudbury Wolves goaltender Marshall Frappier was tested by his former club early after a Saginaw defenseman turned the puck over just off the opening face-off. Left-winger Owen Robinson collected the puck and entered the Spirit zone to fire a wrist shot that was turned aside by Frappier.
Right-winger Owen Gilhula crashed the net and attempted to put the rebound past the Saginaw netminder, but Frappier denied the chance and covered up for the whistle.
Frappier and the Spirit weathered the early flurry from the home club and counterattacked to open the scoring 5:53 of the first period with defenseman D.J. King’s fifth goal of the season.
Defenseman Riley Webb’s shot from the point was blocked in the Sudbury slot, Danny Katic won possession of the puck and passed it back to the right point. The overager Webb unleashed another shot that missed the net wide-right and bounded left of the net. King pinched and skated down to the left circle, where the blueliner hammered a shot into the top corner past Wolves netminder Christain Purboo for the 1-0 lead.
Shots were at a premium in the first period, however the Spirit exploded in the final four minutes of the first period with three goals. After a nice defensive play from King to puck the puck off Liam Ross’ stick after the Sudbury defenseman attempted to split the Saginaw defense and the Spirit attacked up ice with a three-on-one rush. Upon entry in the Sudbury zone, New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey dropped a pass to 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti at the top of the slot. Perfetti passed the puck to the left of the net, where Carolina Hurricanes first round pick Ryan Suzuki tucked the puck around Purboo to make it 2-0 Saginaw with 3:50 left in the first period. With the goal, the London, Ontario native Suzuki extended his point streak to a career-high 10 games.
Just 1:12 later, Saginaw’s Camaryn Baber extended the lead to 3-0 on his seventh goal of the season. 2019 Saginaw Spirit second round pick Josh Bloom received a pass in the neutral zone and quickly floated a saucer pass over to Baber, who was flying down the right-wing. The Saginaw forward protected the puck from a Wolves defenseman and cut towards the Sudbury net. Baber faked a shot then deked left and lifted a shot over Purboo’s pads for a 3-0 advantage.
Saginaw pulled ahead by four goals with just 36 seconds remaining in the first period on Belarusian defenseman Ilya Solovyov’s fifth goal of the season. Solovyov broke into the Wolves zone and pulled up at the right half-wall with two Sudbury defensemen in tow. The Saginaw blueliner cut into center to split the defenders and attacked the net, where he faked a shot and deked to his backhand to slide the puck into the goal. Cole Perfetti tied the Saginaw Spirit single season points record set by alum Jack Combs, who posted 100 points during the 2007-08 season, with an assist.
Each team managed just six shots-on-goal in the opening 20 minutes of play, but Saginaw took a 4-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Wolves made a goaltending change before the start of the second period abd Mitchell Weeks came out in relief of Purboo.
Spirit made it five goals unanswered 6:54 into the second period on Katic’s 11th goal of the season. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Mason Millman created the opportunity after an individual effort, where the Spirit defenseman circled the point and cut down the left side of the Sudbury zone. At the bottom of the left circle, Millman centered a cross ice pass to Katic for the backdoor tip in to take it 5-0 Spirit.
Just past the midway point of the second frame, the game’s momentum shifted, and Sudbury went on a four-goal run. Overager David Levin dumped a pass down to Brad Chenier, who dropped a pass off to Jack Thompson at the top of the slot. The Sudbury forward Thompson sniped a wrist shot that beat Frappier’s glove hand for his 13th goal of the season.
It took Sudbury just 27 seconds to cut the Spirit lead down to 5-2 after a Spirit defensive zone turnover. The Sudbury Wolves captain Macauley Carson controlled the puck and fired a shot on Frappier, who made the initial save. The puck rebounded into the air, where forward Nolan Hutcheson batted into the Saginaw net for his 11th goal of the season with 7:42 left in the second frame. The play was reviewed to see if Hutcheson knocked the puck in with a high stick, but the goal was upheld.
The overager Carson pulled the Wolves to within two goals on an individual effort for his 19th goal of the season. The Midhurst, Ontario native cut towards the slot around a Saginaw defender and backhanded a shot past Frappier top shelf to make it a 5-3 game with 3:40 left in the second period.
Sudbury scored their fourth consecutive goal to make it a one-goal game with 2:55 left to play in the second period. Tick-tack-toe passing from Levin and Chenier opened an easy backdoor tip-in for the Buffalo Sabres prospect Matej Pekar’s 26th goal of the season.
Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux stopped the bleeding just 14 seconds later with his team-leading 36th goal of the season. New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins led overager D.J. Busdeker with a pass to spring the Dexter, Michigan native to a two-on-one rush with Giroux. Busdeker pulled the lone Sudbury defenseman’s attention and slid a pass over for Giroux to one-time into the top shelf to give Saginaw a 6-4 lead with 2:31 left in the second frame.
Sudbury pulled to within a goal once again after a Spirit turnover in the defensive zone. A Saginaw defenseman’s pass was intercepted by forward Owen Robinson, who quickly fired the puck into the back of the net for his 13th goal of the season with 1:42 left in the middle frame.
Saginaw again answered quickly and regained the two-goal lead just 20 seconds later with Cole Coskey’s 31st goal of the season, which tied the right-winger’s career-high total from last season. Ryan Suzuki attacked into the Sudbury zone and centered a pass from the left face-off circle to Coskey at the backdoor for the goal.
The Spirit took a 7-5 advantage into the second intermission and outshot the Wolves 22-20 through two periods of play.
Just 3:34 into the final frame, Nolan Hutcheson tallied his second goal of the game to cut Saginaw’s lead down to 7-6.
Carolina Hurricanes prospect Blake Murray flew into the Saginaw zone on a two-on-one rush and centered a pass to Hutcheson, who had crashed the net and tipped the puck by Frappier for his 12th goal of the year.
Minnesota Wild fifth round pick Giroux notched his second goal of the game to put the Spirit ahead 8-6 with just over 11 minutes left in the third period. Giroux, who grew up in the Sudbury area, flew around the Wolves goal and completed a wraparound to tuck the puck past the Sudbury goaltender Weeks for his 37th goal of the season.
After Mason Millman was called for a tripping penalty with a little more than three minutes left in regulation, the Wolves pulled the goaltender Weeks for the extra-attacker. D.J. Busdeker fired the puck into the empty-net for his OHL-leading eighth shorthanded goal of the season with 1:56 left in the third period.
Saginaw forward Camaryn Baber added his second goal of the game with just 12 seconds left for the eventual 10-6 Saginaw Spirit victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Damien Giroux(SAG) 2G +3
- Nolan Hutcheson (SBY) 2G
- Camaryn Baber(SAG) 2G +1
The Saginaw Spirit finishes the three-game Northern Ontario road-swing Sunday, February 23 against the North Bay Battalion for the second and final regular season meeting of the season. Puck drop from The North Bay Memorial Gardens begins at 2:00 p.m.
Saginaw dominated the Battalion 9-1 in the first meeting back on October 18 at The Dow Event Center. Spirit leading scorer Cole Perfetti tallied four points in the October 18 victory over the North Bay Battalion.
Fans can catch all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and www.wsgw.com with the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
Fans can visit the Buffalo Wild Wings location at 2690 Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw and join the official “Watch Party” for all Spirit away games. Admission is free of charge.
The Spirit return home Friday, February 28 to host the OHL’s rookie scoring leader Shane Wright and the Kingston Frontenacs for the second and final meeting of the season. Puck drop from the Wendler Arena inside The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan begins at 7:05 p.m.
To purchase tickets to any Saginaw Spirit home game call (989) 497-7747, visit www.saginawspirit.com, or visit the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw MI.