The Saginaw Spirit (1-6-2-0) came away with one point in the Ontario Hockey League standings but eventually lost a heart-breaker in overtime 3-2 to the Mississauga Steelheads (4-5-0-0) in front of 2,572 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
After sixty minutes of regulation hockey, the Spirit took a 2-2 tie into overtime, however, a costly turnover in its own end would prove fatal as Mississauga's Nathan Bastian (4) scored the game winner just 25 seconds into extended play.
At the risk of sounding like the proverbial broken record, the Spirit -exactly like it's done early in the season, year after year for as long as I can remember- came out and played great for the first 30 minutes only to burn itself out in the second half of the contest.
Halfway through the second period, the Steelheads would take over, looking like the more dominate team for the remainder of the game.
The Spirit would come out flying early on, as it out-shot Mississauga 18-9 in the first period and into the first half of the second period, only to run out of gas, losing the 'shot's-on-goal battle' 22-7 in the second.
The Steelheads would ultimately out-shoot the Spirit by a 42-35 margin overall.
Spirit second year forward Brady Gilmour (4) scored his fourth goal of the season early in the game at 3:42 of the first period. Matthew Kreis had the lone assist on the Gilmour goal.
Mississauga would tie the game at one goal apiece when offensive powerhouse Owen Tippett (6) beat Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier (fourth round pick, New Jersey Devils 2016 NHL draft) for his sixth goal of the season at 10:22 of the first period.
Tippett (7) lit the red lamp again for his seventh of the season at 4:09 of the second period to give the Steelheads a 2-1 lead.
Saginaw's second round pick in the 2016 OHL priority selection draft, Damien Giroux (1) sniped one past Mississauga goalie Jacob Ingham (glove high) with a beauty from the high slot for his first career OHL goal to tie the game at the 16:00 minute mark of the second period.
Hayden Hodgson and Filip Hronek assisted on the Giroux goal.
Compounded by its conditioning -or lack there of- the Spirit lost a lot of the physical battles along the half boards and in the corners tonight, which led to costly turnovers. Mississauga also won the face-off battle 34-26 tonight.
Cormier, once again kept the game close for the Spirit as he managed to turn away 39 of the 42 shots he would face in net tonight.
The Spirit will visit the defending Memorial Cup Champion London Knights (4-2-1-1) at Budweiser Gardens in London, ON Friday night, before returning to the Dow Event Center to host the eastern conference Kingston Frontenacs (3-4-1-0) for a 7:05 pm face off on Sat.