The Saginaw Spirit (26-12-2-2) managed to get back on track with a convincing 6-3 victory over the Windsor Spitfires (19-21-2-1) in front of 4,027 at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw Saturday night.
After his team's recent seven game winning streak was snapped following a hard fought road loss to the London Knights on Friday night, Spirit head coach Chris Lazary was happy to see his team bounce back into the win column.
“You're always worried when a streak ends, hoping you don't to go the other way with two or three losses,” Lazary said. “But, our guys did a really good job responding tonight. We were a little loose down the stretch maybe, which can be a challenge for me as a coach. They know how good they can be when they turn it on and turn it off, and we've gotta find a way to be consistent.”
The Spirit jumped out to an early lead after taking advantage of a Windsor penalty just past the midway point of the first frame when Spirit forward Albert Michnac (13) converted on the power play goal with assists from Ryan McLeod and Bode Wilde for a 1-0 lead at 14:27 of the first period, before Saginaw rookie Cole Perfietti (17) lit the lamp a few minutes later, scoring his seventeenth goal of the season from Wilde and Blade Jenkins at the 17:05 mark to give the Spirit a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Saginaw continued the offensive pressure early in the middle frame when Spirit defenseman Reagan O'Grady (5) zipped one past Windsor goal tender Kari Piiroinen for his fifth tally of the season from Mason Millman and Cole Coskey for a 3-0 lead at 3:19 of the second period, which led to a frustrated Windsor forward Curtis Douglas being called for a 5-minute major (and a game misconduct) on a dirty hit just a minute-and-a-half later after Douglas had stuck out his knee, injuring Jake Goldowski, while Coskey (22) answered with a power play goal with assists coming from Owen Tippett and Wilde to give Saginaw a 4-0 lead at 5:46 of the second period.
With the recent addition of a pair of high scoring forwards prior to the OHL trade deadline, and playing with a big lead, Lazary was excited to finally have the luxury of a deep bench, where he could experiment with moving guys around on different lines.
“It's interesting, we got up there by four and if you noticed, the lines started to change, we started blending them up a bit just to see what combo's work,” Lazary noted. “It's a blessing when you have a team where you have that much depth and you can do that. So, guys are enjoying playing with different guys and it's fun to be on that bench right now.”
The Spitfires answered near the end of the five-minute power play when Windsor forward Tyler Angle (12) scored a shorthanded goal to cut the Saginaw lead to 4-1 at 6:30 of the second, before a Spirit penalty just past the midway point of the second period led to Angle (13) scoring a power play goal for his second tally of the night to cut the lead to 4-2 at the 13:56 mark.
Saginaw would extend the lead back to 3-goals just a couple minutes later when Tippett (21) showed off his NHL sniper capabilities on a beautiful tic-tac-toe goal with assists coming from Jenkins and Brady Gilmour for a 5-2 Spirit lead at 15:42 of the second period.
Windsor forward Daniel D'Amico (17) added a power play goal for the Spit's, cutting the Saginaw lead to 5-3 just :37 seconds into the final frame, before Coskey (23) put all doubts aside, scoring an empty-netter for his second goal of the night to give the Spirit a 6-3 lead at 18:08 of the third period.
Coskey (2-goals, 1-assist) and Wilde (3-assists) led the Spirit with 3-points apiece respectively, followed by Tippett (1-goal, 1-assist) and Jenkins (2-assists) with 2-points each.
Saginaw rookie goal tender Tristan Lennox looked good again, turning away 31 of the 34 shots he would face in net for the Spirit.
The Spirit will now receive a much needed seven day break, before welcoming the Erie Otters on Jan 19, for a 7:05 pm face off here at the Dow Event Center next Saturday.
Video of New York Islanders' 2018 second round pick Bode Wilde receiving No. 1 star for Spirit: