The Saginaw Spirit dropped a 7-3 heart-breaker to the Soo Greyhounds in front of 2,511 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
The Greyhounds jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first period and continued their dominance throughout the second period.
Tye Felhaber (16) got the Spirit on the board at 3:11 of the second period with a nifty toe-drag move that got Soo goal tender Brandon Halverson (a New York Rangers 2014 draft pick) moving to his left as Felhaber pulled the puck back and beat him on the shortside for his 16th goal of the season.
But, the Soo would answer just 40 seconds later as Blake Speers (a New Jersey Devils 2015 draft pick) beat Saginaw goalie Evan Cormier to take a 4-1 lead through two periods of play.
“Tonight was a night where we came out flat-footed and got a couple bad goals against us and just couldn't get back on track,” Spirit interim head coach Moe Mantha said. “It's a game where we will learn from it, and we've got to regroup. That's one of the beauties of the game of hockey; tonight's game is over and now we've got to get ready for tomorrow night's game.”
Felhaber (17) would score his second goal of the game at 12:33 of the third period and Connor Brown added his 22nd goal of the season with just 15 seconds remaining in the game at the 19:45 mark.
Mantha was happy to see that 'no-quit attitude' from his young team as they out-shot the Greyhounds 25-7 in the third period while adding the two late goals, something he hopes to carry over to tomorrow night's game in Sarnia.
“That's the character of our team,” Mantha said. “We're trying to say, let's build something for tomorrow, let's get some confidence going for tomorrow night's game and looking at the third period, we were getting back to playing the way we are capable of playing, like getting the puck down deep and supporting the play which will build some confidence for tomorrow night.”
The Spirit (23-33-4-3) are the keepers of their OHL playoff destiny. One more win will secure a playoff berth for the Spirit.
They continue to hold a 7 point lead (53-46) over the Flint Firebirds (20-38-4-2) who dropped a 5-1 decision on the road to the Niagara Ice Dogs tonight.
The Firebirds only have four regular season games left on the schedule and can only add 8 more points to their season total. With one more win the Spirit would have a 9 point lead over Flint.
Flint would have to win all of their remaining games and the Spirit would need to lose all of their 5 remaining games in order to take the final playoff spot from Saginaw.
The Spirit will head to Sarnia tomorrow night before returning to the Dow where they will host the London Knights Saturday night.