The Saginaw Spirit (0-1-1-0) had to settle for just 1-point in the OHL standings after failing to convert on a five minute power play in order to break a 2-2 tie late in the third period, before eventually losing the home opener 3-2 in overtime to the London Knights (1-1-0-0) in front of 3,073 Spirit faithful at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw, MI tonight.
With the game tied at 2-goals apiece, Spirit defenseman Marcus Crawford was knocked to the ice from behind, compliments of London forward Alex Turko at the 12:26 mark of the third period, giving Saginaw 5-minutes with a man advantage.
The Spirit failed to score with the man-advantage, sending the game into overtime where London defenseman Evan Bouchard (on a 2 on 1 break with Buffalo Sabres prospect Cliff Pu) scored the game-winning goal just 27-seconds into the overtime session.
London had jumped out to an early lead when veteran forward Adrian Carbonara (2) beat Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier (a fourth round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2016 NHL draft) with an assist coming from Pu at 6:39 of the first period to take 1-0 early advantage.
The Spirit answered midway through the second frame when forward Kyle Bollers' relentless work on the forecheck paid off, forcing a turnover and finding Max Grondin (1) out front, who snapped a shot over the right shoulder of London goal tender Jordan Kooy for his first goal of the season to tie the game at 1-goal apiece at the 11:11 mark of the second period.
Knights second year forward Josh Nelson (2) a free agent from Lockport, IL broke free from a Spirit defender at center ice in the early minutes of the final period, scoring an unassisted, breakaway goal to give London a 2-1 lead at 1:35 of the third period.
Just 24 seconds following the Nelson goal, Bollers (1) took a pass from Grondin in front of the London net, beating Kooy for his first goal of the season and a 2-2 tie game at 1:59 of the third period.
Cormier stopped 24 of the 27 shots he faced in net for the Spirit tonight, while his counterpart, Kooy, turned in a 39-save performance tonight, stopping 39 of the 41 shots he saw in goal for London.
The Spirit will look to turn things around next weekend, hosting the Ottawa 67's next Fri Sep. 29, and the Guelph Storm on Sat Sep. 30, to close out the month of September with a pair of 7:05 pm home games at the Dow Event Center.