The Saginaw Spirit (24-29-7-2) won its second straight game with a 5-3 victory over the Sudbury Wolves (23-30-7-0) in front of 5,043 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
The proverbial clock is ticking for this Spirit team however; who trail Sarnia by 7-points (with only six regular season games to play) for the final western conference playoff spot after a 5-3 Sting win over the Erie Otters earlier this evening.
Head coach Spencer Carbery wasted little time putting (recently called-up) rookie goal tender Cameron Lamour to the test, giving him the start against his home town team tonight.
Lamour (who is from Naughton, ON which is only 17 miles from Sudbury) was taken by the Spirit 53 overall in the 2016 OHL priority selection draft, and recently returned to the roster from the Rayside-Balfour Canadians of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League on Wednesday, passed the test with a breakout performance, stopping 32 of the 34 shots he faced, allowing just 2 power play goals for his first career OHL win.
Sudbury forward Ryan Valentini (16) gave his team an early 1-0 lead midway through the first period, scoring a power play goal at 11:12 following a 2 minute check-to-the-head penalty to Hayden Hodgson.
Hodgson (34) made up for his earlier penalty when he redirected a Filip Hronek wrist shot past Sudbury goal tender Jake McGrath while on the power play to tie the game at a goal apiece just 3:17 into the second period. Spirit forward Matthew Kreis also assisted on the Hodgson goal.
Just over 2 minutes later, captain Keaton Middleton (4) gave the Spirit a 2-1 lead on his fourth goal of the season with assists coming from Kreis and Kris Bennett at 5:26 of the second period.
Mike Davies (5) extended the lead late in the second period with his fifth goal of the season from Spirit rookie Max Grondin at the 16:54 mark to take a 3-1 lead heading into the second intermission.
Sudbury threatened a comeback early in the third when left wing Macauley Carson (26) scored a power play goal, advancing to within a goal (3-2) of the Spirit at 6:40 of the third period, however, Lamour and Saginaw's defense would prove itself down the stretch.
Hodgson (35) added an insurance goal, his second of the night, from Kreis and C.J. Garcia for a 4-2 Spirit lead midway through the third period at the 10:46 mark.
Grondin (6) sealed the win for the Spirit with 13 seconds to play when he scored an empty-net goal from Marcus Crawford at 19:47 of the final period.
Hodgson (2-goals) and Grondin (1-goal, 1-assist) had two points each respectively to pace the Spirit offense while Kreis added 3-assists.
The Spirit will look to gain some ground on Sarnia for the eighth and final western conference playoff spot when it travels to Flint for the final I-75 Divide Cup Series matchup against the Firebirds at 7 pm Wednesday night at the Dort Federal Event Center.