On paper, the Saginaw Spirit (2-8-1-1) looked like the more dominant team but a non-existent power play was once again the difference in a 5-3 loss to the Niagara Ice Dogs (4-7-1-0) at the Meridan Centre in St. Catherines, ON tonight.
The Spirit failed to convert on three first period power play chances while out-shooting the Ice Dogs 12 to 4 in the first frame, however, they skated into the first intermission trailing 1-0 after Niagara forward Johnny Corneil scored his third goal of the season at 10:13 of the first period.
The Spirit had plenty of chances to get back into the game in the second period as they out-shot the Ice Dogs 17-6 but four more failed power play chances would add to the frustration as Niagara added two more goals for a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission.
The two teams started out the final period skating 4 on 4 following roughing minors to Keaton Middleton and Niagaras' Ben Jones at the end of the second period, which was enough to swing momentum back to the Spirit, who decided to mount a comeback just seconds into the final period.
Filip Hronek set up Mitchell Stephens who made a perfect pass to Brady Gilmour for his fifth goal of the season to get the Spirit going at the :07 mark of the third period.
Just a minute and a half following the Gilmour goal, Kris Bennett scored his first goal of the season from Tye Felhaber at 1:37 of the third period to make it a 3-2 game.
The Spirit managed to tie the game while shorthanded midway through the third period when Stephens intercepted a pass and beat Niagara goal tender Stephen Dhillon on a breakaway for his third goal of the season at 9:01 of the third.
The momentum shifted again when Cole Coskey was whistled for roughing at 11:06 of the third period. The Spirit were able to kill that penalty, however, Niagara had managed to build on the changing pace of the game.
Just 17 seconds following the penalty kill for the roughing minor on Coskey, Ice Dogs forward Oliver Castleman beat Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier for his third goal of the season (the eventual game winner) at 13:23 of the third period. Niagara's Chris Paquette would add his seventh of the season at 16:19 of the third.
Cormier was solid again in goal for the Spirit stopping 16 of the 21 shots he faced, while the Spirit were able to score on 3 of its 46 shots on his counterpart Dhillon, who made a whopping 43 saves for the Ice Dogs tonight.
The Spirit will have a day off before heading to Erie for a Sat. night game and an afternoon game at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium on Sunday afternoon to close out the month of October. They will then head to Windsor on Thurs. Nov. 3 before returning to the Dow Event Center Sat. Nov. 5 to host the Barrie Colts.