Spirit down Bulldogs 5-3, have points in eight straight

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By Matthew Wesolowski

Saginaw, Mich. – The Saginaw Spirit (36-24-3-2) won 5-3 over the Hamilton Bulldogs (33-29-4-0) Saturday, March 18, at the Dow Event Center.

Saginaw’s Hunter Haight scored two goals while Mitchell Smith and Michael Misa each earned two helpers. Andrew Oke got the nod for the Spirit, stopping 27 of 30 shots faced. Sahil Panwar netted a goal and two assists for Hamilton. Tristan Malboeuf started for the Bulldogs, letting in four goals on 35 shots.

After 15 minutes of almost solid play, Saginaw found themselves down two skaters after Michael Misa went to the box for tripping at 15:13 and Olivier Savard was called for holding at 16:18. Hamilton capitalized on the chance with a tally at 17:31. Cole Brown received a pass from Patrick Thomas in Saginaw’s zone. Sahil Panwar received a one-timer pass on the right faceoff dot next, and he scored his 29th of the season.

A few minutes later, Saginaw tied the game at one with a goal at 19:13 of the first period. Luke McNamara sent a pass up to Olivier Savard. The defenseman gave PJ Forgione the puck next, and he potted the puck past Malboeuf for his sixth of the season.

Just 31 seconds later, the Bulldogs retook the lead. Artem Grushnikov got the puck from Sahil Panwar at the blue line. The defenseman rifled a shot over Oke’s blocker to make it 2-1.

At the end of the first period, Hamilton led 2-1 along with a 12-9 shot advantage.

The second period began with Saginaw evening up the game at 1:43. Calem Mangone passed to Hunter Haight on the left wing. The Minnesota Wild pick wristed a shot over Malboeuf’s glove for his 20th of the season.

Luke McNamara took a hooking penalty at 11:50 in the second frame, giving the Bulldogs a powerplay. Saginaw was able to kill off the penalty successfully.

Saginaw went on the man-advantage after Lucas Moore went to the box for hooking at 17:54 in the middle frame. The Spirit retook the lead with a powerplay tally with 13 seconds remaining in the period. Sebastien Gervais received a pass from Mitchell Smith at the right faceoff dot. The forward sent a pass to Calem Mangone who was at Malboeuf’s doorstep, and he netted his 15th of the season.

After 40 minutes, Saginaw led 3-2 and held a 24-16 shot lead.

The third period started with Hamilton on the penalty kill after Masen Wray committed a hooking call at 3:09. Saginaw used the chance to score another powerplay goal at 4:42. Zayne Parekh got the puck from Michael Misa and he sent a shot at Malboeuf. The goaltender turned it aside, but not before Sebastien Gervais could recover and pot his tenth of the season.

The Bulldogs went on the powerplay after Nic Sima took a high sticking call at 9:52 in the third frame. Saginaw successfully killed off the chance with several clearing attempts.

Hamilton cut the Spirit’s lead to just one with a tally at 14:21 in the final period. Lucas Moore received a pass from Callum Cheynowski at the blue line. The defenseman ripped a shot that flew past Oke for his third of the season. Sahil Panwar earned an assist on the play.

With time running down, the Bulldogs called Malboeuf to the bench for an extra attacker. The Spirit netted an empty net goal courtesy of Hunter Haight. Michael Misa and Mitchell Smith earned assists on the play. With the assist, Smith earns his 117th point and now sits 3rd all-time among Spirit blueliners.

At the end of the game, Saginaw won 5-4 with a 36-30 shot advantage. With the win, Saginaw improves to 36-24-3-2 on the season, and has points in eight straight games.

Saginaw heads on the road for the final time this season as they face off against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Friday, March 24, at the GFL Memorial Gardens. Puck drop is at 7:07 p.m.


Photo – Eric Young

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