Sarnia ON – A third period comeback Monday by the Saginaw Spirit earned them one point in a 7-6 shootout loss against the Sarnia Sting.
The Spirit trailed by as many as three goals before managing to shorten the divide for the Ontario Hockey League West Division lead by two points.
It’s the first game decided in extra time since November 23, 2018, for Saginaw and second time the playoff-bound club was defeated at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena this season.
2017 CHL Import first-rounder Hugo Leufvenius needed less than two minutes to score the first period’s opening goal.
Leufvenius’ team-leading 32nd goal marked the second straight game in which the Spirit trailed in the early going.
After both clubs traded minor penalties, the Sting grabbed a 2-0 lead at 7:56 from 18-year-old defenseman Ashton Ressor, earning his second goal of the season on a wrist shot blocker-side at the top of the slot.
Saginaw managed to tie it up before the intermission with Brady Gilmour and Reagan O’Grady picking up their 11th and eighth goal, respectively.
Gilmour, the Detroit Red Wings prospect, found the open net once Ethan Langevin couldn’t recover from a sprawled position. The veteran forward has now passed Patrick McNeill on the Spirit all-time scoring list with 54 in four seasons.
O’Grady was helped to the locker room when his last-minute goal at 19:34 ended with the overage defenseman colliding with Langevin in the crease.
Setting up the one-on-one opportunity down low to O’Grady for the assist was 2018 Edmonton Oilers (40th overall) choice Ryan McLeod.
McLeod has accounted for 12 assists since coming over via trade before the deadline. He’s second on the team behind fellow 2018 NHL Draft pick Bode Wilde in that category at 38.
Saginaw went on the power play three times after 20 minutes.
Sarnia scored three unanswered in the second, including back-to-back goals in the first 10 minutes by Franco Sproviero and a short-hander with 9:40 left, before second-year forward Jake Goldowski made it a two-goal difference heading into the final intermission.
Sproviero’s first at 8:06 came with seven seconds remaining on the third man-advantage for the Sting.
The Spirit entered Monday with the league’s fourth-best penalty kill unit.
After Goldowski redirected the puck at 14:02 for his 10th goal of the year, the Spirit set a new franchise record for most players with 20 points or more in a single-season.
Cole Perfetti, the 2018 OHL Priority Selection first-round (5th overall) pick, finished with his third multi-point outing in four games on a goal and two assists. His rooftop shot would be the first goal of the third period at 3:20.
Perfetti, having collected at least one point in nine of the last 10 games, seized his second assist on the cross-ice pass to New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins for the second-of-two game-tying goals before overtime.
Sarnia received a five-minute major and game misconduct at 13:49 when Cole Coskey took a blindsided hit from Jamieson Rees.
The fifth and final man advantage for the Spirit led way to former Barrie Colts captain Justin Murray tapping it in with 4:40 in regulation for the 6-6 score.
The overage defenseman holds the second-highest plus-minus rating on the team behind Damien Giroux at +22.
Sean Josling’s 16th goal at the 11-minute mark broke ground for the third go-ahead lead for Sarnia, who never trailed once.
Following a scoreless five-minute overtime, three rounds in the shootout were needed for the Sting to erase a four-game losing skid, as Sproviero and rookie winger Jacob Perreault scored in the second and third rounds, respectively.
Saginaw did maintain an early edge once Perfetti hammered it through in the first round.
2018 Arizona Coyotes fourth-rounder Ivan Prosvetov stopped 31 shots and one more in the shootout en route to his second straight loss in net. The Russian native has a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.11 with a 0.904 save percentage (SAV%).
Shots on goal favored Saginaw, 42-37.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Franco Sproviero (SAR) – 2G
- Cole Perfetti (SAG) – G, 2A, +2
- Sean Josling (SAR) – G, 3A, +3
The Spirit continue their two-week long road trip Thursday when they visit the Barrie Colts at 7:30 p.m. (EST).
It’ll be the final of a two-game regular-season series between Saginaw and the ninth-place OHL Eastern Conference Colts and first at the Barrie Molson Centre.
Listen live on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk & Spots and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers. Pre-game coverage starts at 7:15 p.m. (EST).
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.
Former 2017 Priority Selection first overall pick Ryan Suzuki leads the team in assists (40) and points (59) while sitting second in goals (19).
St. Louis Blues prospect Tyler Tucker is just under double-digit goals (9) this season but is second among Colts players in both assists (34) and points (43).
To purchase your tickets for all Saginaw home games, call (989) 497-7747, visit saginawspirit.com, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.