Spirit fall to Knights, 5-1 in London

By Matthew Wesolowski

London, Ont. – The Saginaw Spirit (25-19-2-0) fell 5-1 to the London Knights (31-13-1-0) Friday, February 3, at the Budweiser Gardens.

Hunter Haight scored the lone goal for Saginaw. Tristan Lennox played the first 20 minutes and made 12 saves on 16 shots. Andrew Oke started second period and allowed one goal on 24 shots. London’s Ethan MacKinnon earned a goal and two assists, and Brett Brochu posted a .968 save percentage as he made 30 saves on 31 shots.

The game opened with London striking first at 6:13. Oliver Bonk started the play by recovering the puck in the Knight’s zone. Jackson Edward received the puck next and flipped a pass from behind the net to Ryan Humphrey in the neutral zone. The Northville, Mich. native charged into Saginaw’s zone and wristed a shot under Lennox’s glove for his ninth goal of the season.

The Knights added to their lead just 14 seconds later. Logan Mailloux opened with a pass to Ethan MacKinnon. The defenseman gave Denver Barkey the puck next just outside Saginaw’s zone. Much like the first goal, Barkley flew down the wing and sent the puck between Lennox’s legs to make it 2-0 London.

Landon Sim committed a cross checking penalty at 12:36 in the first frame, giving Saginaw their first powerplay. Instead of the Spirit converting, it was Knights who added to their lead with a shorthanded tally at 13:41. Denver Barkey earned his second point of the night after he won the faceoff and got Ethan Mackinnon the puck. Logan Mailloux received the puck at the top of the zone and ripped a slapshot over Lennox’s glove for his 14th of the season.

London expanded their lead to four with 11 seconds remaining in the opening period. The chance started after PJ Forgione took an interference penalty. Ryan Winterton had the puck in the Spirit’s zone and passed to Denver Barkey. The center wasted no time by shooting at Lennox and the goaltender was able to make the save. The puck rebounded to the left, and Ruslan Gazizov collected it and earned his 16th of the season.

At the end of the first period, London had a commanding 16-5 shot advantage and a 4-0 lead of the game.

The second period started with Saginaw down a skater after PJ Forgione was called for holding at 6:10. The Spirit successfully killed off the penalty with help from a shorthanded chance.

Saginaw earned a man-advantage after Max McCue took a roughing penalty at 13:29 in the second frame. The Knights were able to kill off the penalty with help from Brochu.

Max McCue ran into Michael Misa and was called for kneeing at 15:57 in the middle period, knocking Misa out of the game and giving the Spirit a powerplay. Saginaw used the chance to get their first goal of the game at 16:26. Matyas Sapovaliv started the play by passing from behind the net to Dean Loukus. The Calument, Mich. native was not able to get control of the puck but Hunter Haight took it instead. The Minnesota Wild prospect potted the puck to Brochu’s left for his 13th of the season and made it 4-1 London.

At the end of the second period, London led 4-1 and held a 31-17 shot advantage.

After several minutes of both goaltenders making saves during the first ten minutes of the third period, the Knights finally cracked Oke with a goal at 11:12 in the third period. Sam Dickinson scored after he received the puck from Landon Sim and rifled a shot past Oke’s blocker from the top of the circles. Brody Crane earned a helper on the play, and London went out to a 5-1 lead.

With time running out, Saginaw was unable to score again and the game ended in a 5-1 victory for the Knights along with a 41-31 shot advantage. The Spirit fall to 25-19-2-0 on the season and were swept by London in the regular season.

Saginaw returns home Saturday, February 4, as they host the Ottawa 67’s at the Dow Event Center on Lead with Spirit Night. Puck drop is at 7:05 p.m. and tickets are available at Ticketmaster, the Saginaw Spirit Store (6321 State Street), Dow Event Center Box Office, and by phone at (989) 497-7747.

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