The Saginaw Spirit outplayed the visiting Sarnia Sting in just about every category except the most important; the final score. The Sting edged the Spirit 5-4 in front of 2,703 fans at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw Sunday afternoon.
The Spirit came out flying and energized, outshooting the Sting 21-8 in the first period (51-29 for the entire game). Despite Saginaw’s first period dominance, they were unable to capitalize on any of those early scoring opportunities. “We’ve got to bury our chances, that’s what the game is all about,” said Spirit head coach Greg Gilbert. “If we bury some of those chances early, it’s a different story; we take them out of the game.” “Credit to Sarnia, they found a way to win, but we would’ve taken them out of the game early if we bury two or three of those early opportunities.”
Gilbert thought his team deserved the win, although he also pointed out that Sarnia capitalized on their chances, which was the deciding factor in the game. “I think we deserved a better fate no matter what; I mean, they made good on their opportunities,” said Gilbert. “You know, we out-chanced them by a bunch and like I said, when they had their chances they buried them; we had breakaways and point-blanker’s and we didn’t finish; if you’re not going to finish, and you’re not going to score, you’re asking for a whole lot of trouble.”
Sarnia broke the scoreless game early in the second period when RW, Nikolay Goldobin scored to give the Sting a 1-0 lead just fifty-seven seconds into the second period. Spirit assistant captain, Garret Ross tied the game when he took a nice feed from line mates, Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Lodge to beat Sarnia goalie, Brodie Barrick on the short side, as the puck deflected off Barrick’s blocker and into the net at 4:07 of the second period. The goal was Ross’ ninety-ninth point in a Saginaw Spirit uniform, just one shy of his milestone one-hundredth.
After Spirit rookie defenseman, Brandon Prophet was whistled for high sticking at 8:18 of the second period, the Sting capitalized with a power play goal at 8:35 of the period, taking a 2-1 lead. Just one-minute and fifty-two seconds later, Spirit forward, Nick Moutrey tied the game at two goals apiece, scoring his third goal of the season (his third-in his last-three games) at 10:27 of the second period.
Gilbert had switched the lines up to try and generate some chemistry, which seems to be working (for Moutrey in particular). “We’re trying to get some chemistry and Nick Moutrey has been really good for us the last little while,” said Gilbert. “Those top two lines (Ross,Trocheck,Lodge and Locke,Kea,Moutrey) are good lines for us, and the second two lines are good, hard working lines as well, and hopefully those young guys will build some chemistry also; you know, we’re just trying to find four solid lines.”
Sarnia took a 3-2 lead at 16:32 of the second period, then extended that lead to 4-2 in the third period when the number-one overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft (Montreal), Alex Galchenyuk scored at 4:39 of the third period. Saginaw cut the Sarnia lead to 4-3 when Eric Locke scored his eleventh goal of the season on a feed from Moutrey.
The Sting scored an empty net goal for a 5-3 lead after Saginaw pulled goalie, Jake Paterson for the extra attacker at 18:50 of the third period. The Spirit would not go down without a fight. Saginaw kept the extra attacker out there and forward, Jimmy Lodge scored his fifth goal of the season with forty-six seconds remaining in regulation. The Spirit would have a couple more quality chances in the final seconds, but could not tie the game.
Spirit captain, Vince Trocheck, and assistant captain, Garret Ross both recorded assists on the Jimmy Lodge goal. The assists turned out to be milestones for Ross and Trocheck, who also happen to be roommates. For Ross, the assist was his one-hundredth career point in a Saginaw Spirit uniform; while Trocheck became tied with Jack Combs for the all time career assists record in Saginaw Spirit franchise history with 134 assists. “I’m happy for Garret, one-hundred points is a big milestone; it’s definitely exciting, and I take pride that I’m tied with the assists record, but my focus is on the team,” said Trocheck. “I’m trying to go out there and help my team win; you know, the assists come along, and the points come along, but that’s just an added bonus.”
The Spirit will kick off a four game road trip starting Tuesday night in Plymouth, and they will return to the Dow Event Center on Wednesday November, 14 to host their in-state rivals, the Plymouth Whalers for the first time this season. The Spirit will then host the Brampton Battalion on Saturday November, 17 at the Dow Event Center. Both games will start at 7:11 p.m. As usual, we will be looking forward to seeing you down at the Dow….