The Saginaw Spirit (3-3) will now have a second opportunity to capture its first ever Ontario Hockey League western conference championship on home ice following a 5-1 game-6 loss to the Guelph Storm (3-3) in front of 4,692 at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, ON tonight.
Saginaw had been sitting pretty with a comfortable 3-games-to-1 series lead with the first chance to clinch at home this past Friday night, however, since Saginaw's game-5 victory up in Guelph on Wednesday night, the Storm, who had advanced to these finals after battling back from elimination in four straight games against the London Knights in the semi-finals, have managed to completely choke out the Saginaw offense over the last two games, limiting the Spirit to just 39-shots on goal throughout the past six periods in this series.
"We know we've got to be better," Spirit head coach Chris Lazary said of his team's offensive effort. "You look at the shot attempts; I don't know what they ended at, but we've got to hit the net. We can't just have pucks flying around, we have to start hitting the net and get some traffic in front."
The Storm jumped out to an early lead when Guelph forward Pavel Gogolev (2) intercepted a pass in the Saginaw zone, scoring an unassisted goal for a 1-0 lead at 8:34 of the opening period.
Guelph extended the lead early in the middle frame when former Flint Firebirds defenseman Fedor Gordeev (2) scored with a blast from the point to give the Storm a 2-0 lead at 2:28 of the second, before Storm super star forward Nick Suzuki (12) made a nifty spin-o-rama move and roofed a backhand shot into the top right corner of the net for a 3-0 lead at 7:52 of the second period.
The Storm would add a pair of quick goals in the final frame when Sean Durzi (3) scored for a 4-0 lead just :28 seconds into the period, while Gogolev (3) followed with his second of the night just 1:18 later for a 5-0 lead at 1:46 of the third period.
Saginaw finally managed to get on the board with its first tally in over 118-minutes of hockey in this series when Jake Goldowski (3) scored his third goal of the playoffs with assists coming from Hayden Davis and Blade Jenkins to cut the Guelph lead to 5-1 at 17:28 of the third period.
Both Saginaw and Guelph will now jump right on the bus and head back to Saginaw for a game-7 face-off in less than 27-hours with puck-drop set for 7:05 pm back at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw tomorrow night.
"It's a one game (series) now," Lazary added. "It's going to be exciting and I'm looking forward to tomorrow night."
"You wake up tomorrow and the Sun's gonna rise," Lazary concluded. "It's game seven, you've got to find a way to rip your heart right out of your chest and win one more gamegame."
Video of Ryan McLeod's heroic game winning overtime goal in game 2 of the 2019 OHL western conf finals back on Sat. Apr. 20, at the Dow: