The Saginaw Spirit (16-26-1-0) were unable to overcome a five-goal opening period from the Guelph Storm (21-15-3-1) and fell by a 7-3 score Saturday night in front of an announced attendance of 3,356 at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw.
The Storm were looking to avenge a game Friday night in which they had a 3-0 and 4-3 lead over the Flint Firebirds, but lost 5-4 in overtime. They got off on the right foot in this matchup with the Spirit, in which they had won the previous two matchups this season, scoring just 2:41 into the game. Rookie Ryan McGuire rushed the puck up the ice and slipped the puck past Spirit goaltender Andrew Oke for his second goal of the year. 40 seconds later, the Spirit tied the game when overager Dalton Duhart (8) tipped a Roberto Mancini shot past Storm netminder Owen Bennett. Defender Pavel Mintyukov also earned an assist on the goal.
The Storm were quick to respond, scoring at 6:13 on a wrist shot from the right circle from Ben McFarlane (11). Cooper Walker and Michael Buchinger earned assists on the goal. This was the first of four unanswered goals for the Storm in a span of 12:47 of play. Cooper Walker (9), Ryan McGuire (3), and Brayden Guy (12) all tallied in the opening frame to make it 5-1 Storm. After a brawl sent two storm players to the box on 5:00 penalties, the Spirit enjoyed what turned out to be 2:00 of four-on-three play. With 45 seconds to go, the Spirit took advantage of all the open the ice and scored on a cross-ice pass from Matyas Sapovaliv to Dean Loukus (14) to make it 5-2 before the conclusion of the period. Saginaw was outshot 22-13 in the opening period.
The Spirit began the middle period on a five-on-three power play for 3:00 in which they could have scored at will and not have the penalties expire on a goal. Instead, the Spirit were shut down and were unable to close the gap further than three goals. At 5:19, Braeden Bowman extended the Guelph lead to four goals again on a goal from Jake Karabela and Sasha Pastujov. Another Brayden Guy goal at 12:04 made it 7-2 in favor of the Storm. 33 seconds later, Buffalo Sabres prospect Josh Bloom cut the Storm lead to 7-3 with his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
With no scoring the in the final frame, the Storm left Saginaw with their 21st of the season to move within five points of the London Knights for first place in the Midwest Division.
Saginaw and Guelph will meet again next Friday, Feb. 18 at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph. Puck drop is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. The Spirit return home to The Dow Event Center on Saturday, Feb. 19 facing the Sarnia Sting. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
For tickets to any Saginaw Spirit home game fans can call (989) 497-7747, visit saginawspirit.com
, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 6321 State Street, Saginaw, MI.
Fans with any questions or concerns about fan protocols may call the Spirit at (989) 497-7747 or email firstname.lastname@example.org