After a horrendous first period in which the Saginaw Spirit were outshot 18-8 and trailed 1-0, the Spirit fought their way back throughout the next two periods to beat the fourth ranked (OHL’s eastern conference) Kingston Frontenacs 4-2 in front of 4,619 fans at the Saginaw Event Center Saturday night in downtown Saginaw.
The Spirit had that “Deer in headlights” look throughout the entire first period, and had to feel very fortunate taking just a one-goal deficit into the first intermission. After Spirit defenseman, Justin Sefton was called for a four-minute double minor for spearing at 19:42 of the first period, Kingston right wing, Spencer Watson buried a rebound in front of the Spirit net for a power play goal past Saginaw goalie, Jake Paterson (Detroit Red Wings third round pick, 80 overall in the 2013 NHL draft) with just one-second remaining in the first period at 19:59, giving Watson and his squad a one goal advantage over after just one period of play.
The Frontenacs looked as if they were going to be just as dominant in the second period; when Watson banged home his second goal in less than three minutes at 2:42 of the second period, giving Kingston a 2-0 lead. The Spirit however, managed to rally and outshoot Kingston 13-7 and 10-6 in the second and third periods respectively.
Sefton was able to put the spirit on the board late in the second period when he scored his twelfth goal of the season from Kristoff Kontos and Eric Locke (Buffalo Sabres draft pick in the NHL’s 2013 draft) at 17:47 of the second period.
Kontos tied the game after Kingston defenseman, Mikko Vainonen was called for a two-minute interference penalty at the 6:00 mark of the third period. Kontos buried his nineteenth goal of the season (a power play goal) from Sefton and Saginaw’s “point producing machine” defenseman, Jesse Graham (New York Islanders draft pick in the 2012 NHL draft) at 6:43 of the final period. Later in the third period, Spirit forward, Cody Payne (Dallas Stars draft pick, via Boston Bruins in the 2012 NHL draft) scored his twentieth goal of the season; which turned out to be the game winning goal from Jimmy Lodge (Winnipeg Jets third round draft pick, 62 overall in the 2013 NHL draft) at 18:12 of the third period. Spirit “super-soph,” Dylan Sadowy secured the win -just 39 seconds after Payne’s goal- for the Spirit when he scored an empty netter, his nineteenth goal of the season at 18:51 of the third period.
Paterson turned away 29-of the-31 shots he faced Saturday evening for the Spirit. The Spirit (25-24-4-1) continue to hold onto a firm grasp of the sixth (out of eight) playoff spot in the OHL’s western conference with 55 points; which is nine points behind fifth-place, Windsor (64) and five points ahead of seventh-place Owen Sound (50). The Spirit will spend this week getting ready for a tough 3 games-in-3 nights stretch starting with two road games against Erie and Niagara on Thursday February, 6 and Friday February, 7 respectively; before returning home to host the very tough Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds on Saturday February, 8 at the Dow Event Center. The puck is set to drop at 7:11 pm on Saturday.