The Saginaw Spirit came up short in their opening game of the 2021-22 season on Saturday night at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, MI. After two first period goals, the Spirit were shut down by the Otters the rest of the way, falling 4-2.
Defensemen Roberto Mancini and Mitchell Smith tally the Spirit goals in the defeat.
Erie goaltender Nolan Lalonde stopped 29 of 31 Saginaw Spirit shots for the victory.
Buffalo Sabers prospect Josh Bloom nearly opened scoring on two, odd-man rush opportunities.T-Bone Codd made two moves inside the Saginaw zone and angled a pass off the boards to spring the speedy Bloom with Dalton Duhart on a two-on-one rush. Bloom used Duhart as a decoy and fired a wrist shot from the right circle that goaltender Nolan Lalonde fought off with his blocker.
Just under a minute later the Oakville, Ontario native Bloom sped down the left-wing and fired a wrist shot that beat Lalonde’s blocker but ricocheted off the right post.
Defenseman Roberto Mancini opened the scoring for the Spirit when the Vaughan, Ontario native attempted a centering pass that deflected off an Erie defender. Saginaw Spirit captain Camaryn Baber and overager Nick Wong assisted on the Spirit’s opening goal of the season.
After Saginaw’s Pacey Schlueting was assessed a five-minute major for kneeing, Bloom nearly extended the Spirit lead while shorthanded. Bloom picked the pocket of the Erie defenseman at the Saginaw blueline and raced down the ice on the breakaway. Bloom attempted a deke to his forehand but couldn’t sneak the puck around Lalonde’s right pad.
With strong goaltending from 2021 New York Islanders third round pick Tristan Lennox and smart defending, the Spirit killed the five-minute major to Schlueting and kept the one-goal lead.
With 2:04 remaining in the opening period, the Saginaw native Mitchell Smith extended the Spirit lead. An attempted pass from rookie defenseman P.J. Forgione deflected off an Erie defender and slid out to the left-point of the Spirit offensive zone. Smith reared back an hammered a slapshot into the top right corner for the defenseman’s first goal of the season to make it a 2-0 Saginaw lead at the first intermission.
With Nick Wong in the penalty box to start the second period, Dalton Duhart was charged with a tripping minor which gave the Otters a two man-power advantage. Saginaw net-minder Tristan Lennox stole two would be goals with sliding pad saves to keep the Spirit up by two goals early in the second period.
Lennox again came up big for the Spirit just past the four-minute mark of the second period when overager Brendan Hoffmann sped down the ice on a breakaway. The Otters right-winger poked the puck past the Saginaw defenseman at the Erie blueline and came down all alone on the Saginaw goaltender. Hoffmann attempted a quick shot from the slot that Lennox denied with a quick glove save.
Just past the mid-way point of the second frame, the Erie Otters cut the Spirit lead in half on center Colby Saganiuk’s second goal of the season. Erie captain Daniel D’Amato centered a quick pass from the Saginaw corner into the slot for a quick wrist shot from Saganiuk past Lennox’s outstretched glove to make it a 2-1 game.
The Otters tied the game with 5:55 remaining in the middle period after a turnover in the Saginaw zone. The puck was over skated by a Spirit defender and slid to Noah Sedore at the top of the slot, where the left-winger fired a quick shot by the Saginaw goalie to tie the game.
After two periods Saginaw led in the shot department 22-17, however the teams were tied, 2-2.
Erie took their first lead of the game 1:48 into the third period off a two-on-one rush to make it a 3-2 game. Vancouver Canucks prospect Connor Lockhart sped down the left-wing and feathered a pass over to the slot, where the centerman Elias Cohen streaked down a fired the puck into the Saginaw net to make it a one-goal game.
Just past the midway point of the third period Saginaw made a bid to tie the game but couldn’t put the puck past Lalonde. After a shot by Nick Wong from the point that deflected off the right pad of the Otters netminder and rebounded to the left of the slot, where Mitchell Smith fired the rebound that was denied by a quick Lalonde blocker.
Erie added an empty-net tally with Brendan Sellan first goal of the season.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
1. Elias Cohan (ER) G, A
2. Daniel D’Amato (ER) 2A
3. Mitchell Smith (SAG) G
The Saginaw Spirit finish their two-game weekend series against the Erie Otters on Sunday, October 17 at 5:30 p.m. for Pink Out Night at The Dow Event Center presented by Ascension St. Mary’s. The first 2,000 fans will receive a light-up bracelet and following the game, the Spirit will auction off their game-worn jerseys with the proceeds going toward breast cancer research at Ascension St. Mary’s.
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 5789 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