Sault Ste. Marie, ONT. – The West Division leading Saginaw Spirit took the front end of a home-and-home series against the division rival Soo Greyhounds on the road Friday evening to win their third consecutive game.
2019 Carolina Hurricanes 28th overall pick Ryan Suzuki scored his first goal as a Saginaw Spirit with a hat trick in the victory.
‘A’ rated 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti extended his career-best point streak to 12 games with a goal and two assists against the Greyhounds.
Saginaw goaltender Tristan Lennox made a great save just off the opening face-off after a fortuitous bounce off Billy Constantinou’s center ice dump-in. The puck ricocheted right to Soo center Alex Johnston, who fired a quick shot from the left circle that was snagged by Lennox to keep the game scoreless early.
Lennox had to be quick off a Greyhounds forecheck just past the three-minute mark of the first period. Joe Carroll gained control of the puck in the right corner of the Spirit zone and centered a pass to the slot. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Jaromir Pytlik received the pass and fired a wrist shot through a screen that Lennox stopped with his chest.
The Greyhounds grabbed the first period lead on Soo forward Joe Carroll’s 10th goal of the season. 2020 NHL Draft prospect Ryan O’Rourke took a shot from the point that rebounded to Rory Kerins, who fired the puck from the left circle that Lennox stopped with a pad save. The puck bounced right off of Lennox’s pad to Carroll in the crease for the easy tip-in to make it 1-0 Greyhounds.
After penalties to Soo players Kalvyn Watson and Jacob LeGuerrier, the Spirit converted on the five-on-three power play to even up the score, 1-1. ‘A’ rated 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti centered a pass to Saginaw captain Damien Giroux in the Soo slot. The Minnesota Wild prospect Giroux’s one-timer was blocked but he regained control and found Carolina Hurricanes signee Ryan Suzuki to the right of the crease for the one-time tally for his first goal in a Saginaw Spirit uniform. Suzuki has a point in all three of the games he has played in since the Spirit acquired the center prior to the OHL trade deadline. Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti extended his career-high point streak to 12 games with the secondary assist on the Suzuki goal.
The Greyhounds outshot the Spirit 10-6 in the first period, but the teams went into the first intermission tied, 1-1.
Spirit netminder Lennox made several saves in the first couple minutes of the second frame as Saginaw struggled to gain control of the puck. O’Rourke received a pass at the point and hammered a slapshot through a screen that Lennox stopped with a pad save.
With Marc Boudreau in the penalty box, Saginaw nearly took the lead off a one-time attempt from Giroux. Perfetti drew the Soo defense towards him and sent a pass to the right face-off circle, where Giroux waited for a one-timer. Soo goaltender Nick Malik, who made his first OHL start in the game, slid across for the desperation glove save to keep the teams tied 1-1 just over three minutes into the second period.
‘C’ rated 2020 NHL Draft prospect Ilya Solovyov nearly gave the Spirit the lead with just under six minutes left in the second frame. Forward Camaryn Baber gained control of the puck near the left circle of the Soo zone and slid a pass over to Solovyov at the top of the right circle. The Belarusian defenseman fired a one-time slapshot that beat Malik but clanked off the crossbar.
Goaltending was the story in the second period and the teams went into the intermission tied, 1-1.
Off a face-off in the Greyhounds zone, forward Jake Goldowski capitalized on a bounce off the boards. Grand Blanc, Michigan native Dalton Duhart won the face-off back to overager D.J. Busdeker, who dumped the puck into the right corner. The puck bounced off the kickplate of the boards right to the Soo slot, where Goldowski sent a turnaround shot that was denied by Malik.
After a nice back check from New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey, Ryan Suzuki backhanded a cross ice pass in the neutral zone to Cole Perfetti. Perfetti flew into the Soo zone and toe dragged around a Greyhounds defender for a wrist shot from the left circle that was knocked down by Soo netminder Malik. Perfetti collected his own rebound and roofed a backhand for his 24th goal of the season to give the Spirit a 2-1 lead 6:45 into the third period.
Lennox kept the Spirit ahead after a miss played puck deep in the Saginaw end with the Saginaw goaltender behind the net. Lennox had to quickly rush back into the Spirit net, after Jaromir Pytlik gained control of the puck from the right half wall and snapped a shot toward the Saginaw goal. The Saginaw netminder just got back into the crease in time to stop the puck with his left pad with just over eight minutes left in the third period.
Ryan Suzuki gave the Spirit a two-goal lead with 4:32 left in the third period as a trailer on a three-on-two rush in the Soo zone. Coskey drew the Soo defender toward the right-winger and dropped a pass to Suzuki at the top of the right circle. Suzuki sniped a wrist shot that beat the Greyhounds goaltender Malik over his right shoulder for his second goal of the game and seventh of the season.
After a turnover in the Saginaw end, Soo Greyhounds leading scorer Zack Trott made it a one-goal game with his 16th goal of the season. Pytlik dumped a puck behind the Spirit net to Trott, where he skated to the right of the net and jammed it into the net to make the game, 3-2.
With the Soo net empty, Ryan Suzuki completed the hat trick on his eighth goal of the season with two unselfish plays from Coskey and Perfetti, who assisted on the play with 1:53 remaining in regulation.
Jake Goldowski added another empty-net tally with just 51 seconds left in regulation for the eventual 5-2 Saginaw Spirit victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Cole Perfetti (SAG) G, 2A
- Ryan Suzuki (SAG) 3G, A
- Nick Malik (SOO) L, 28 saves
The Saginaw Spirit finish up the home-and-home series with the Soo Greyhounds on Saturday, January 18 for Mary Free Bed Night at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan. Puck drop for the sixth of eight regular season meetings begins at 7:05 p.m.
Fans can catch the 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.