By Matthew Wesolowski
Saginaw, Mich. – After going down 3-1 in the second period, the Saginaw Spirit (21-9-2-0) rallied back to a 5-4 overtime win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (10-13-6-4) Thursday, December 29, at the Dow Event Center on Teddy Bear Toss night.
2025 NHL draft eligible Michael Misa and Anaheim Ducks prospect Pavel Mintyukov both earned one goal and two assists in the win. Goaltender Brett Fullerton got his first win of the season for Saginaw, making 21 saves on 25 shots. Samuel Ivanov got the start for the Soo, stopping 32 of 37.
The game started with pressure from the Spirit, as they had several chances but no goals through the first nine minutes. The Soo were unable to register a shot on goal until the nine-minute mark of the first period but were able to score the first goal of the game at 10:06. Bryce McConnell-Barker passed to Kalvyn Watson on the right side to start the play. The winger gave the puck to Landen Hookey and he rifled a shot past Fullerton for his fifth goal of the season.
Mitchell Smith was called for boarding at 12:08 in the opening period, and the Greyhounds used the opportunity to extend their lead with a powerplay goal at 14:01. Andrew Gibson gave Jordan D’Intino the puck in the neutral zone. From there, he skated the puck into Saginaw’s zone and wristed a shot through Fullerton for his 12th goal of the season.
Teddy bears rained down onto the ice after Saginaw found the back at 14:44 in the first frame. Zayne Parekh fed Mitchell Smith at the top of the offensive zone. His shot from the left point was deflected by Calem Mangone for his tenth goal of the season.
The Soo found themselves on the penalty kill after Connor Clattenburg committed a slashing penalty at 18:26 in the opening frame. The penalty rolled over into the next period.
The first period ended with a 2-1 lead for the Soo and nine shots for both teams.
The second period opened with Saginaw still on the powerplay from the previous frame and the Soo killing it off shortly after. The Spirit were unable to use the momentum as the Greyhounds scored at 3:19. Bryce McConnell-Barker passed to Kalvyn Watson who beat Fullerton with a wrist shot in the slot. Both skaters earned their second points of the night on the play.
Saginaw got a two-man advantage after Ryan Thompson was called for hooking at 9:49 and Bryce McConnell-Barker committed a high sticking penalty at 10:38 in the middle period. The Greyhounds successfully killed off the penalty despite immense pressure.
Justin Cloutier received a slashing penalty at 17:26, giving the Spirit a powerplay chance. The Soo killed off the chance with help from several clearing attempts and a shorthanded try.
The second period ended with a 3-1 lead for the Greyhounds despite Saginaw leading 21-14 in shots.
The third period started with both teams down a skater after a scrum occurred after the second period ended. Roberto Mancini took an interference penalty 45 seconds in, which gave the Greyhounds a four-on-three powerplay chance. All three penalties expired without any goals.
After a scrum in Saginaw’s zone, Luke McNamara and Landen Hookey received roughing penalties at 3:34 in the third frame.
The Spirit found a second wind after a scoreless second period with a goal at 4:35 in the final period. 15-year-old Michael Misa earned his team-leading 17th goal after he tipped a shot from Roberto Mancini to cut the lead to just one. Pavel Mintyukov earned an assist on the play.
Saginaw tied the game up under a minute later at 5:29 in the third frame. Pavel Mintyukov attempted a pass to Hunter Haight, but it never made it. Michael Misa pushed the puck towards Haight, and he was able to collect it. From there, the Minnesota Wild prospect ripped a shot past the blocker of Ivanov to extend his point streak to nine games.
Using their newfound momentum, the Spirit took the lead for the first time in the game at 15:19 in the final period. Mitchell Smith and Luke McNamara teamed up to get the puck out of the Saginaw zone, then a give-and-go with Theo Hill resulted in McNamara’s 6th goal of the season.
Attempting to play spoiler, the Soo tied the game up under 60 seconds later at 16:15. Marco Mignosa gave Jordan D’Intino the puck and passed to his right where Andrew Gibson was. Fullerton lost his stick during the pass, and was unable to stop the shot from Gibson, who earned his sixth goal of the season.
Neither team were able to break the tie, and the game went into overtime. At the end of the third, the game was tied at four apiece and Saginaw led shots, 34-22.
During overtime, both teams had several chances and shots. It was Saginaw who showcased their leage-leading overtime play by winning the game at 3:13 in OT. Michael Misa got a clean break and skated on the right side of the zone. From there, he took a set-up pass to Pavel Mintyukov who put the puck past Ivanov for the game-winning goal and his third point of the night.
At the end of the game, Saginaw won 5-4 and led shots, 37-25. With the OT win, the Spirit improve to 21-9-2-0 on the season, and 6-2 in overtime.
Saginaw’s next game is against the Flint Firebirds Friday, December 30, at the Dort Financial Center in Flint, Michigan. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.