Saginaw, MI. – The Western Conference leading Saginaw Spirit earn their fourth straight victory in a 5-4 overtime thriller over the West Division rival Sarnia Sting Thursday evening at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.
Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux provided the overtime heroics for his team-leading 21st goal of the season.
2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti was given the game’s first-star honor after a three-assist effort.
With an early man-power advantage opportunity for the Spirit after Theo Hill was called for a cross-checking minor, Marshall Frappier had to be strong on a breakaway attempt from overager Ryan McGregor just under three minutes into the first period. The former Toronto Maple Leafs draft choice poked the puck passed a Saginaw defender at the Sarnia blue-line and hustled down the ice all alone. McGregor tried a deke to open the goalie’s five-hole but Frappier tightened the pads and kept the game scoreless.
Saginaw rookie forward T-Bone Codd nearly put the Spirit ahead on a one-time opportunity from the slot just over seven minutes into the opening period. 2019 Saginaw Spirit second round pick Josh Bloom gained control of the puck behind the Sarnia net and quickly centered the puck. Codd cut into the slot and fired a one-timer that beat Sting netminder Ethan Langevin but clanked off the left-post into the corner.
Frappier was tested in the final seconds of the first period on a Sarnia two-on-one chance. With a Saginaw defenseman caught in the Sarnia zone, Hill flew down the ice along with Ryan Roth on a two-on-one with just overager Reilly Webb back. Hill sent a cross ice pass to Roth on his off-wing for a one-timer from the top of the left circle that was denied by a sliding pad save by Frappier.
Sarnia outshot Saginaw 14-10 in the first period but the teams went to intermission in a scoreless tie.
Saginaw defenseman D.J. King had an opportunity to break the scoreless tie early in the second period. King cut towards the slot from the right point and Grand Blanc, Michigan native Dalton Duhart hit the defenseman in stride with a through traffic pass. King fired a shot from the slot that was just fought off with a blocker save.
The Spirit broke the scoreless tie 11:54 into the second period on forward Danny Katic’s sixth goal of the season. Top 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti controlled the puck behind the net and skated around a couple Sting defenders to the right face-off circle. Perfetti sent a pass to Katic, who deked to his backhand and flipped a shot over Langevin’s blocker for the 1-0 Saginaw lead.
Saginaw added to their lead just 1:15 later on a individual effort from Dalton Duhart. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Ethan Cardwell bounced a pass off the boards to Duhart, who flew into the Sarnia zone. Duhart toe dragged around a Sarnia defender a roofed a wrist shot past Langevin for a two-goal Spirit lead.
Sarnia cut into the Saginaw lead 1:15 later with tight angle one-time from Sarnia Sting captain Ryan McGregor. Defenseman Anthony Tabak kept the puck in the Spirit zone and sent a cross ice pass for a one-time slapshot from McGregor at the bottom of the right circle. Frappier just couldn’t slid across in time and the puck squeezed through the Spirit goaltender and the right post for McGregor’s 10th goal of the season.
The Spirit controlled play for much of the second period and outshot the Sting 17-7 in the middle frame.
Just 1:00 into the third period, Forward Jake Goldowski extended the Spirit’s with his eighth goal of the season. Goldowski kept the puck in the Sarnia zone and fought off a Sarnia defender to fire a wrist shot from the point through traffic. Langevin was screen in front of the net and the puck whistled past the goaltender’s glove for the 3-1 Saginaw lead.
The Sarnia Sting cut the Spirit lead to one-goal 9:06 into the third period on Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Eric Hjorth’s ninth goal of the season. Brayden Guy passed the puck to Hjorth at the Spirit point and the Swedish defenseman hammered a one-timer through traffic past Frappier to make it a 3-2 game.
Sarnia tied the game 12:25 into the third period on a two-on-one rush with Guy’s seventh goal of the season. McGregor skated into the Saginaw zone and feathered a pass to Guy to the right of the Spirit net. The Sarnia forward Guy lifted a shot over Frappier’s sliding pad to tie the game 3-3.
Just 1:10 later the Sting took their first lead of the game on Ryan Mast’s first goal of the season. McGregor dropped a pass off to Mast at the top of the right circle, where the Sarnia defenseman ripped a snapshot that beat Frappier’s glove to give Sarnia a 4-3 lead.
Saginaw tied the game less than a minute later with Philadelphia Flyers prospect Mason Millman’s seventh goal of the season. Minnesota Wild prospect Damien Giroux teed-up a one-timer from the Saginaw defenseman at the point that flew over the Sarnia net. The puck took a fortuitous Saginaw bounce off the glass behind the net, where it hit Langevin in the back and bounced into the goal for the 4-4 tie with 5:44 left in regulation.
Regulation ended with the teams knotted up 4-4 despite 14-9 Spirit shot advantage in the third period of play.
Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux provided the game-winner with just 37 seconds left in overtime on a two-on-one rush. Cole Perfetti flew down the left-wing and drew the Sarnia defenseman to him at the left face-off circle. The Spirit forward sent a pass through the defender for a Giroux one-timer over Langevin’s pad to give Saginaw the 5-4 victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Cole Perfetti (SAG) 3A
- Damien Giroux (SAG) GWG
- Mason Millman (SAG) G, A
The Saginaw Spirit have the next nine days off for holiday break and return to the ice Saturday, December 28 when they host the West Division rival Windsor Spitfires for Hockey Hall of Fame Night featuring Spirit alum Chris Thorburn and the Stanley Cup. Puck drop from the Wendler Arena inside The Dow Event Center is at 7:05 p.m.
Fans will have the opportunity have a meet and greet opportunity with the Stanley Cup and St. Louis Blues forward and former Saginaw Spirit captain Chris Thorburn prior to the game in the Budweiser Red Room from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m.
Fans can catch this weekend’s action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and www.wsgw.com with Art Lewis and the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” with host Charley Porter begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
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.