Ottawa, ON – Saginaw’s five-game win-streak came to an end against the OHL’s first place Ottawa 67’s Sunday afternoon. The Spirit’s late comeback bid came up just short with the 5-3 road defeat.
The Saginaw Spirit are now four points behind the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for first place in the West Division.
The Spirit took the early lead 2:52 into the opening frame with captain Damien Giroux’s 19th goal of the season. Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker picked a great time to pinch to keep the puck in the Ottawa zone. The Spirit alternate captain recovered the puck and slid a pass over to Giroux in the slot. Giroux, a Minnesota Wild prospect, made a patient pass to the forehand and lifted a wrist-shot over Ottawa goaltender Cedrick Andree’s pad.
Busdeker, normally a right-winger, has played defense admirably the last three games during overage defenseman Reagan O’Grady’s recent suspension.
A few minutes after the Giroux goal, Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov came up big with two saves to keep Saginaw ahead. San Jose Sharks prospect Sasha Chmelevski took the puck away from a Saginaw player. Chmelevski’s deke attempt was denied by Prosvetov’s pad, the Russian goaltender then stoned Washington Capitals prospect Kody Clark’s rebound attempt.
Prosvetov continued the strong play throughout the first frame with several Ottawa scoring chances. Chmelevski has another prime scoring chance with five minutes remaining in the first period. After Graeme Clarke dropped a pass off to the Ottawa center at the top of the left circle, Chmelevski skated into the slot and sent a wrist-shot that Prosvetov deflected into the corner with a blocker.
With just 1:20 left in the first period, newly acquired Lucas Chiodo put Ottawa on the board with his 21st goal of the season. Defenseman Hudson Wilson created space in the Spirit zone with great stick-handling and sent a pass over to the slot. Overager Chiodo redirected the Wilson pass into the goal to tie the game, 1-1.
Elite goaltending was the story in the second frame where both net-minders came up big for their teammates.
OHL’s leading scorer Tye Felhaber was robbed by Prosvetov just over five minutes into the second period. Standout rookie Marco Rossi sent a pass to the slot where Felhaber’s one-time backhand was denied by the Spirit goaltender.
Saginaw’s Danny Katic was injured midway through the second period after sacrificing his body on a great defensive play. The left-winger obstructed an Ottawa pass on a two-on-one rush but collided with another player.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Brady Gilmour had a chance to put the Spirit back on top with just over five minutes remaining in the second period. Gilmour came down the left wing and used his body to protect the puck against a 67’s defender but Andree held close to the left post and kept the put out of the net.
While on a man-power advantage, Florida Panthers 2017 10th overall pick Owen Tippett had a glorious chance to give Saginaw the lead. Tippett took a point-blank wrist-shot from the top of the slot that was stopped by the Ottawa goaltender’s shoulder.
With Saginaw already a man down, Gilmour was called for an embellishment penalty to give Ottawa a five-on-three man-power advantage. Ottawa’s defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer had tripped Gilmour, but the Red Wings seventh round pick was the only player penalized on the play. Former Saginaw Spirit draft pick Felhaber took advantage of the call and scored his 51st goal of the season on the power play.
Ottawa scored making it, 3-1 just over five minutes later with Chmelevski’s 15th goal of the season. After a shot by Kody Clark was denied by Prosvetov’s pad, Chmelevski sent the rebound in the back of the Saginaw net.
The 67’s began to pull away midway into the final frame with a breakaway goal by New Jersey Devils prospect Mitchell Hoelscher. Hoelscher broke into the Spirit zone all alone and sent a shot over Prosvetov’s glove for a 4-1 Ottawa lead.
Ottawa scored their fifth goal just 33 seconds later with OHL’s top rookie scorer Marco Rossi’s 21st goal of the season. Austen Keating sent a nice pass to the Austrian rookie in the slot where Rossi’s one-timer beat Prosvetov along the ice.
Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod’s 15th goal with 4:04 remaining in the third period kept the Spirit in the game. New York Islanders prospect Bode Wilde made a nice pass from behind the 67’s net out to McLeod to the right of the goal. McLeod sent a quick shot that beat Andree to bring the Spirit back to within three goals.
Spirit leading scorer Cole Coskey added another goal with just over a minute remaining in regulation on the power play. Coskey hammered a one-time shot over the Ottawa goaltender’s shoulder to give Saginaw their third goal.
The goal gives the Zion, Illinois native his team leading ninth goal on the man-power advantage.
Saginaw outshot Ottawa, 36-34 in the loss.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Marco Rossi (OTT) G, A
- Hudson Wilson (OTT)
- Mitchell Hoelscher (OTT)
The Saginaw Spirit continue the five-game road swing with a trip to the Sleeman Centre to face the Guelph Storm Wednesday, January 30 at 7:00 p.m. The game has big playoff implications with the Spirit currently five points ahead of the Storm in the Western Conference standings. Saginaw dropped the first meeting of the season in overtime and took the second game in a shootout.
Fans can listen to all the action on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk and Sport or www.fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call. Catch the pregame coverage on “Countdown to Face-off” beginning at 6:45 p.m.
Watch every remaining road game via the Saginaw Spirit “Watch Party” at the 2690 Tittabawassee Road, Saginaw Buffalo Wild Wings location.
The Spirit returns home Saturday, February 2 to continue the I-75 Divide Rivalry versus the Flint Firebirds at 7:30 p.m. Saginaw clinched the I-75 Divide Cup earlier this season in a 9-1 victory in Flint back on January 2.
The game follows the twelfth annual Shocks and Saves Charity Game presented by Pulse 3. The puck drops between the Detroit Red Wings alumni and the local EMT’s and doctors at 4:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets to any Saginaw Spirit home game call (989) 497-7747, visit www.saginawspirit.com, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.