The Saginaw Spirit (2-7-1-1) only managed 13 shots on goal but would make the best of those 13 shots, battling back from a 2-goal deficit to beat the Kingston Frontenacs 3-2 at the Dow Event Center tonight.
The Spirit got a much needed boost from its special teams going 1 for 3 on the power play while stopping Kingston on all four of its power play chances.
After a scoreless first period Kingston forward Lynus Nyman (4) scored his fourth goal of the season just 23 seconds into the second period, then added his second goal of the night at 5:17 of the same period to give his team a 2-0 lead.
Trailing by two goals in the middle of a rocky season, a lot of teams would have no problem just cashing it in and giving up. However, something happened midway through the second period, it was shortly after the Spirit managed its second penalty kill in the first seven minutes of the period.
The Spirit picked up its pace, due in large part to rookie Damien Giroux playing on the first line with Mitchell Stephens (second round pick Tampa Bay Lightning 2015 NHL draft) and Brady Gilmour.
Giroux brought a noticeable energy to the ice and capitalized with his second goal of the season from C.J. Garcia and Stephens at 11:10 of the second period to get the Spirit to within a goal (2-1) of Kingston.
Giroux's energy continued on the power play as he fought for control of the puck and set up a power play goal to make it a 2-2 game at 16:13 of the second period.
Giroux managed to dig the puck along the half boards and pass it out to defenseman Filip Hronek (second round pick Detroit Red Wings 2016 NHL draft) at the point, who took a low rebound shot which forward Hayden Hodgson (2) banged home for his second goal of the season.
Prior to Hodgson's goal, the Spirit had not converted a power play in its previous 20 attempts, spanning 17 periods over the past six games.
The timing of the goal could not have been better for the Spirit or Hodgson, who has been struggling with a plus/minus of -10 this season.
The Spirit appeared to extend the lead two minutes later when Giroux set up Stephens who found Gilmour on a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal that was eventually overturned due to the controversial 'off-sides review' rule that was instituted at the start of the 2015-16 NHL and OHL seasons respectively.
The linesman missed the off-sides call as the Spirit brought the puck into the zone on a 3 on 1 break away. According to the 'off-sides review' rule, the opposing coach can challenge for a video review, despite the linesman missing the call in real time.
Kingston head coach Paul McFarland challenged and the goal was overturned as the two teams would skate to a 2-2 tie into the second intermission.
Just 22 seconds into the third period, Spirit veteran Jesse Barwell (who has also been struggling with a plus/minus of -8 this year) scored his first goal of the season, which would prove to be the game winner.
Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier (fourth round pick New Jersey Devils 2016 NHL draft) turned away 31 of the 33 shots he faced tonight.
The Spirit will head out for a three game road trip next weekend as they visit Niagara Thurs, Erie on Sat, and Kitchener on Sun.
On Nov. 3 the Spirit will travel to Windsor before returning home on Nov. 7 to host the Barrie Colts at the Dow Event Center.
The Spirit will then head north to the Soo on Nov. 11 to play the Greyhounds and cap a grueling early road-heavy schedule that allowed for just five home games in its first 17 games to start the season. The Spirit will play 6 of its next 7 games at home in November.