The Saginaw Spirit (13-10-3-0) started off a bit slow, but finished unbelievably strong, completing one of the most improbable comeback's in franchise history with six unanswered goals to tie the game (6-6) forcing overtime, where Cole Coskey (14) banged home the game-winner with 37-seconds left at 4:23 of OT with assists from Mason Kohn and Blade Jenkins for an incredible 7-6 OT victory over the Sarnia Sting (21-5-2-0) who happen to be the No. 1 ranked team in the entire 60-team Canadian Hockey League in front of 4,337 at the Dow Event Center tonight.
Saginaw forward Damien Giroux (10) tied the game at 6-goals each when he buried a rebound for his tenth goal of the season with an assist from Jenkins at 16:40 of the third period to force overtime, which set the stage for Coskey's heroic OT game-winner.
The Spirit fell behind the proverbial 8-ball early when Sarnia LW Anthony Salinitri (11) gave his team a 1-0 lead just :32 into the game, before Sting forward Drake Rymsha (15) opened up a 4-0 lead with a natural hat trick, chasing Spirit starter Evan Cormier after his second goal, then completing the rare fete with his third consecutive goal at 18:29 of the first period to take a 4-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Sarnia pulled ahead even further (5-0) when LW Hugo Leufvenius (11) scored his eleventh of the season just 2:43 into the middle frame, before forward Franco Sproviero (4) stretched the lead to 6-0 with his fourth goal of the season at 17:02 of the second, however, that was Sarnia's final goal of the night as the Spirit began to battle back.
In the closing minutes of the second period, Saginaw forward D.J. Busdeker (5) re-directed a Keaton Middleton shot from the point, beating Sarnia goal tender Justin Fazio to get the Spirit on the board and make it a 6-1 game at 18:23 of the second period, as Aidan Prueter added an assist on the goal.
Shortly after Busdeker's goal, Spirit defenseman Duncan Penman (2) scored his second of the season with assists from Kohn and Coskey to cut into the Sarnia lead (6-2) at 19:42 of the second period.
Jenkins (12) the current OHL rookie of the month, then cut the Sting lead to 6-3 with his twelfth (which is most among OHL rookies) of the season from Penman and Hayden Davis at 5:57 of the third period.
Another productive Spirit rookie, Ryan Stepien (3) made an improbable comeback seem somewhat attainable when he got the Spirit to within 2-goals of the Sting (6-4) with his third of the season from Max Grondin and Danny Katic at 14:14 of the third period.
Just 12-seconds later, Spirit forward Brady Gilmour (6) made it a 1-goal game (6-5) with his sixth of the season with assists coming from Marcus Crawford and Kohn at 14:26 of the third period, leading up to the Giroux goal, which tied the game and Coskey's game-winner.
This victory was a total team effort for the Spirit, with 14 skaters recording at least 1-point, as everyone on the roster contributed in one way or another; led by Jenkins, who had 3-points (1-goal, 2-assists) setting up the game-tying and game-winning goals, followed by Kohn (3-assists), Penman (1-goal, 1-assist), and Coskey (1-goal, 1-assist) on offense, while backup goal tender Cameron LaMour was great when he needed to be, shutting out the Sting in the third period as he turned away 20 of the 23 shots he saw in net for the Spirit.
The Spirit will finish out this tough weekend with a visit from the Niagara IceDogs (13-8-3-2) at 5:30 pm at the Dow Event Center tomorrow afternoon.