Barrie, ONT. – The Saginaw Spirit’s specialty team struggles led to a 6-5 overtime defeat to begin a three-game Northern Ontario road swing Thursday evening against the Barrie Colts. The Spirit were hindered by two shorthanded goals, along with a powerplay tally by the Colts to surrender the extra point in the standings, despite a 51-28 shot advantage in the game.
Former Saginaw Spirit draft pick’s Nicholas Porco and Ethan Cardwell each found the back of the net against their former club.
The first period was filled with scoring chances and former Barrie Colts forward Dalton Duhart opened the scoring for the Spirit 3:05 into the first period with his 12th goal of the season.
The Grand Blanc, Michigan native snapped a shot from the left circle that beat Vancouver Canucks prospect Arturs Silovs for the 1-0 lead. Duhart played 11 games with the Barrie Colts this season before the Spirit acquired the forward back on October 26.
Saginaw took a 2-0 lead 7:45 into the first period on a redirection by 2019 Saginaw Spirit second round pick Josh Bloom’s fifth goal of the season. Off an offensive zone face-off won by the Spirit, rookie forward T-Bone Codd tipped the puck back to defenseman D.J. King at the Barrie point. King unleashed a shot with Bloom in front of the net and deflected the puck past Silovs to extend the Saginaw lead to two goals.
After Saginaw defenseman King was called for a tripping minor, Barrie stemmed the tide and converted on their first man-power advantage with former Saginaw Spirit first round pick Nicholas Porco cut into the lead with his ninth goal of the season. Quick passes from 2020 NHL Draft prospect Tyson Foerster and former Flint Firebirds second round pick Evan Veirling set up the Dallas Stars prospect Porco for the powerplay goal.
The Colts tied the game 10:57 into the opening frame after Saginaw failed to clear the puck out of the defensive zone.
2020 NHL Draft eligible Anthony Tabak set up forward Ryan Del Monte for his third goal of the season past Saginaw Spirit goaltender Tristan Lennox to tie the game, 2-2.
After a penalty to Anaheim Ducks prospect Mathew Hill, a Saginaw giveaway at the point sprung Tabak on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity.
New York Islanders signee Bode Wilde took down the Barrie left-winger and the Colts was awarded with a penalty shot with 4:19 remaining in the first period.
Tabak patiently skated down the ice and beat Lennox for the shorthanded goal for his ninth goal of the season.
Barrie nearly extended the lead in the final minute of play of the first period off a two-on-none rush. Saginaw gave the puck away in the neutral zone and Nicholas Porco flew into Saginaw’s zone with rookie forward Jordan Frasca. The former Saginaw Spirit forward Porco snapped a shot from the right face-off circle, but Spirit netminder Tristan Lennox held tough and kept Saginaw within one-goal.
Saginaw trailed 3-2 after 20 minutes of play, despite a 17-10 advantage in the shot department in the first period.
The Spirit stopped the bleeding just 34 seconds later when Carolina Hurricanes 28th overall pick Ryan Suzuki’s sniped his 15th goal of the season past Silovs to tie the game, 3-3. With the goal, the former Barrie Colts first-overall pick Suzuki tied his season-high nine-game point streak from earlier this season.
The London, Ontario native posted 23 points in 21 games with the Colts prior to the trade deadline acquisition by the Saginaw Spirit.
The momentum switched with the Suzuki goal and Saginaw amped up the offensive zone pressure. Saginaw regained the lead just over two minutes later with Minnesota Wild prospect Damien Giroux’s team-leading 35th goal of the season. OHL’s ‘On-The-Run’ Player of the Week Cole Perfetti gained control of the puck and slid a pass over to Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker. The overager Busdeker centered a pass to Saginaw Spirit captain Giroux for a one-timer into the open backdoor past the sliding Colts netminder Silovs to give Saginaw the 4-3 lead. With an assist on the play, fourth ranked North American 2020 NHL Draft prospect Perfetti extended his point streak to five games.
After forward Aidan Brown was taken down on a breakaway, the Colts were awarded their second penalty shot opportunity of the game 6:18 into the second period. On the penalty shot, the overager faked a shot in the slot and fired a wrist shot towards the top shelf of the Spirit goal. The 16-year old Spirit goaltender Lennox snagged the puck to stone Brown to keep Saginaw on top, 4-3.
Barrie again tied the game 12:08 into the second period with a little puck luck for overager Josh Nelson’s 12th goal of the season. Former Saginaw Spirit draft pick Ethan Cardwell centered a pass to Nelson in the Saginaw slot. Nelson attempted a backdoor pass to the right of the Spirit net and a Saginaw defenseman deflected the puck into the goal by accident, which tied the game, 4-4.
The Spirit bounced back to regain the lead with 3:17 left in the middle frame on quick passes to set-up Jackson, Michigan native Blade Jenkins for his 12th goal of the season and third in the past two games. Forward Danil Antropov dropped a pass back to Philadelphia Flyers prospect Mason Millman on the left-wing. Millman fired a centering pass over to the New York Islanders prospect Jenkins for the backdoor tip-in past Silovs to give Saginaw a 5-4 lead.
The Spirit took the one-goal lead into the second intermission and thoroughly outshot Barrie 36-22 through two periods of play.
Just 50 seconds into the third period, Saginaw was thought to extend the lead after Ryan Suzuki found the back of the net for the second time in the game. The goal was eventually washed out after an official review due to a missed offsides call to keep it a 5-4 Saginaw advantage.
Saginaw netminder Tristan Lennox kept the Spirit ahead with a save off a point shot through a screen in front of the net. Evan Veirling grabbed the puck and banked a pass back to defenseman Mathew Hill at the Saginaw point. Hill hammered a slapshot that through several players in front of the Saginaw net, but Lennox enclosed the puck between his arm and torso to cover for the whistle.
With Barrie’s Brandt Clark penalized for a tripping penalty, the Colts tied the game with their second shorthanded goal of the game. Aidan Brown sniped a shot past Lennox off a two-on-one rush for his 15th goal of the season with 10:04 left in regulation to tie the game, 5-5. The play appeared to be offsides but was not reviewed so the game remained tied.
After penalties called for Barrie’s Victor Hadfield and Saginaw’s Bode Wilde with less than two minutes left, the teams skated four-on-four for the remainder of regulation. Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti nearly put the Spirit ahead with just under a minute left but couldn’t bury the puck past Silovs and the game went into overtime.
Just 1:34 into overtime, Ethan Cardwell buried his 21st goal of the season to give the Colts their second overtime victory against the Spirit this season. After the Spirit failed to convert on the offensive zone, Barrie counterattacked with a two-on-one rush. Josh Nelson slid a pass over to Cardwell for the one-timer that beat Lennox to give the Colts the 6-5 win.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Anthony Tabak (BAR) G, 2A
- Ethan Cardwell (BAR) GWG, A
- Aidan Brown (BAR) G
Two top 2020 NHL Draft prospects collide in Sudbury, Ontario on Friday, February 21 when Cole Perfetti and the Saginaw Spirit face-off against Quinton Byfield and the Sudbury Wolves for the second and final meeting of the season. NHL Central Scouting has Byfield ranked second among North American 2020 NHL Draft eligible skaters and Perfetti slotted fourth ahead of the NHL Draft, which will take place in Montreal, Quebec this June. The game is set for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop from the Sudbury Community Arena in Sudbury, Ontario.
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.