Saginaw, MI. – The West Division leading Saginaw Spirit earned their season-high fifth straight victory in a 4-1 win over the archrival Windsor Spitfires Saturday evening in front of 4,299 fans at The Dow Event Center.
Saginaw Spirit alum Chris Thorburn and The Stanley Cup were in attendance and was tasked with the ceremonial puck drop for the game against the Spitfires.
A giveaway in the Saginaw Spirit zone led to a 1-0 lead for the Windsor Spitfires just 2:41 into the opening period. Nashville Predators prospect Egor Afanasyev stripped the puck from a Saginaw defenseman and found Spitfires captain Luke Boka alone in the slot. Boka made a deke to the backhand and slid the puck under Saginaw goaltender Marshall Frappier’s pad for his 11th goal of the season.
Saginaw answered the Spitfires tally just 1:31 later with defenseman D.J. King’s fourth goal of the season. Forward Jake Goldowski dropped a pass off to Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Mason Millman at the point and the Spirit defenseman fired a wrist shot wide of the net. Goldowski, who crashed the Windsor net, batted a bouncing puck toward the slot and King hit the puck out of midair into the Spitfires goal to tie the game, 1-1.
With defenseman Louka Henault in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct, left-winger Danil Antropov nearly gave the Spirit the lead with just under five minutes left in the first period. Top 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti slid a pass from the right half-wall down to Antropov at the right of the crease. The Spirit forward made a deke on Windsor netminder Xavier Medina and sent a wrist shot short side that clanked off the right post into the corner.
Saginaw outshot Windsor 16-10 in the opening frame but the teams went into first intermission tied, 1-1.
After the OHL’s fourth best shorthanded unit Saginaw Spirit killed a too-many-men penalty, T-Bone Codd nearly put the Spirit up a goal. Perfetti, who served the penalty, led a pass to 2019 Saginaw Spirit second round pick Josh Bloom who dropped a pass to Codd in the neutral zone. Codd, a 2019 fourth round pick of the Spirit, sped into the Spitfires’ zone and fired a wrist shot from the right circle that was just fought off by Medina.
Marshall Frappier kept the game tied just past the eight-minute mark of the second period after a Windsor forecheck in the Saginaw zone. Overager Cole Purboo gained control of the puck out of a scrum in the left corner of the Saginaw zone and cut towards the front of the net. Purboo attempted to tuck the puck into the short side but Frappier held tight to the post and kept the puck out.
On the rush after the Frappier save, Saginaw defenseman Mason Millman gave the Spirit their first lead of the game 8:54 into the second period. Millman flew up ice and went wide-right around a Spitfires defender into the Windsor zone. The London, Ontario native angled toward the Windsor net and sent a backhander top-shelf short side past Medina’s left shoulder for the 2-1 Saginaw lead.
With just under two minutes left in the middle frame, Frappier was forced to make two saves to keep Saginaw on top for the second intermission. Windsor defenseman Thomas Stevenson was hit with a cross ice pass at the top of the left circle and drifted towards the Spirit net. The overage defenseman fired a point-blank wrist shot from the left face-off dot that Frappier fought off with the right shoulder. Stevenson crashed the net and slapped the rebound back at the Saginaw netminder, who slid across to make the pad save and cover the puck.
Saginaw took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission with a 25-19 shots-on-goal advantage through the first 40 minutes of play.
Just seconds into the final frame, Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux nearly extended the Spirit lead on a three-on-two rush. New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey hit Giroux with a cross ice pass as they entered the Spitfires zone. The Minnesota Wild prospect Giroux snapped a shot from the top of the left circle that Medina stopped with a blocker save.
In a scramble within the Windsor zone, Saginaw was able to gain control of the puck and Cole Perfetti extended the Saginaw Spirit lead to two goals. After the Spitfires failed to clear the puck Cole Coskey tipped the puck to Giroux behind the Spitfires defense in front of the net. The Spirit captain dropped a pass to Perfetti, who crashed the net and flipped a shot over Medina’s blocker for a 3-1 Spirit advantage 4:46 into the final frame.
The same Spirit line nearly tallied another with just over three minutes left in regulation. Coskey stickhandled the puck through a Windsor defender’s legs and skated past the defenseman at the Spitfires point. The right-winger sent a pass to the left face-off dot, where Perfetti fired a wrist shot that Medina stopped with a sliding blocker save.
With just 2:10 left in regulation, Giroux provided the empty-net goal to put the game out of reach. On a two-on-none rush behind the Windsor defense, Perfetti made an unselfish pass over to the Hanmer, Ontario native Giroux for his team-high 22nd goal of the season and the eventual 4-1 victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Mason Millman (SAG) G, A +2
- J. King (SAG) G, +2
- Marshall Frappier (SAG) W, 26 SVS
The Saginaw Spirit face-off against the West Division rival Soo Greyhounds Monday, December 30 for the fourth of eight regular season meetings. The Spirit are 2-1-0-0 against the rival Greyhounds this season including a 5-4 victory for Saginaw in the last matchup back on October 27 on home ice. Puck drop from the Wendler Arena inside The Dow Event Center begins at 7:05 p.m.
The characters from Paw Patrol will be appearing in the Budweiser Red Room between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. for the game against the Greyhounds. The Saginaw Spirit are holding a $6 student and military ticket rush for the game.
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.