The Saginaw Spirit (12-9-1-2) blew a 1-goal lead after giving up a late third period goal which eventually forced overtime, before ultimately suffering a 3-2 shootout loss to the Sudbury Wolves (14-8-1-1) in front of 3,338 at the Sudbury Community Arena in Sudbury, ON tonight.
With the Spirit protecting a 2-1 lead in the final minutes of the game, Sudbury pulled goal tender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen for the extra attacker, which paid off when Wolves' rookie Quinton Byfield (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League priority selection draft) tied the game at 2-goals apiece with his eighth goal of the season at 18:52 of the third period, forcing overtime and eventually a shootout, where Byfield then scored the only shootout goal, while Luukkonen stopped Spirit forward Blade Jenkins for the Sudbury victory.
Sudbury jumped out to an early lead when forward Blake Murray (9) buried his ninth of the season from Cole Candella and Blake McConville for a 1-0 Wolves lead at 3:03 of the first period; however, the Spirit would answer just 56-seconds later when captain Damien Giroux (10) found the back of the net with his tenth of the season from Jenkins and Jake Goldowski, knotting the game at 1-goal apiece at the 3:59 mark.
Following nearly 42-minutes of scoreless hockey, the Spirit pulled ahead early in the third period when rookie Cole Perfetti (10) beat Luukkonen for his tenth goal of the season with assists coming from Cole Coskey and Mason Millman for a 2-1 Saginaw lead at 5:35 of the third period, prior to Byfield's late game-tying goal.
Spirit rookie goal tender Tristan Lennox stopped Sudbury forward's Darian Pilon, Owen Gilhula, and David Levin in the shootout, while Luukkonen turned away Saginaw's shooter's Coskey, Brady Gilmour, and Perfetti, before Byfield managed to sneak one past Lennox for the only shootout goal, as Luukkonen preserved the win with a stop on Jenkins.
Luukkonen stopped 22 of the 23 shots he would face in between the pipes for Sudbury, while Lennox (who was recently called back to the Spirit from the Brantford 99'ers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League) looked really good in his return to the OHL, turning away 24 of the 26 shots he saw in net for the Spirit.
The Spirit will wrap up this Northern Ontario road trip with a visit to the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre in Owen Sound, ON to take on the Owen Sound Attack at 2 pm Sunday afternoon.