The Saginaw Spirit
remain win-less three games into the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League
season after dropping its home opener 2-1 to the Guelph Storm in front of 4,427 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
Saginaw forwards Jesse Barwell and Cole Coskey assisted on Crawford's goal, his first of the season.
The Spirit are missing six of its top eight players, who remain on extended invitations to their respective NHL training camps, including the top three defensemen; Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings 2016 second round draft pick), Markus Niemelainen (Edmonton Oilers 2016 third round draft pick), and Keaton Middleton (Toronto Maple Leafs 2016 fourth round draft pick).
Missing three of the teams best defensemen, along with veteran goal tender Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils 2016 fourth round draft pick) was brutally significant tonight -and over the course of the last three games- as the Spirit struggled primarily at moving the puck out of its own zone, especially under the constant pressure of the Guelph fore check.
When Niemelainen and Hronek return they will alleviate that pressure with their ability to skate the puck out of the zone in transition, while Middleton brings a physical presence in front of the net.
However, the Spirit have to be happy with the play of rookie goal tender Cameron Lamour, who was stellar between the pipes, unfortunately so was his counterpart, Guelph goal tender Liam Herbst who stopped 22 of Saginaw's 23 shots on goal.
Lamour, a third round pick (53 overall) in the 2016 OHL priority selection draft, stood on his head as he faced nearly double the shots as Herbst, turning away 39 of Guelph's 41 shots.
The Storm would finally sneak one past Lamour at 17:19 of the second period when right wing Jake Bricknell scored a power play goal at 17:19 of the second period following a tripping penalty at 16:54 to Spirit veteran Kris Bennett.
Just over a minute later and skating 4 on 4 with just :03 seconds remaining in a penalty to Spirit overage forward Hayden Hodgson for a check to the head, Storm defenseman Kyle Rhodes would notch the eventual game winner with a blast from the right point at 19:30 of the second period.
Guelph won the face off battle 31-29 while out-shooting the Spirit 41-23. Guelph was 1 for 2 on the power play compared to the Spirit who were 0 for 4 on the power play.
The Spirit are off until next Saturday when they will host the Ottawa 67's for a 7:05 pm game at the Dow Event Center.