Sault Ste. Marie, ON:
The Saginaw Spirit (19-11-2-2) kicked off the second half of the 2018-19 Ontario Hockey League season with a huge 4-2 inter-division victory over the West division leading Soo Greyhounds (21-9-4-1) in front of 4,700 at GFL Memorial Gardens in Sault Ste. Marie, ON tonight.
With tonight's win, the second place Spirit (42-points) have narrowed the Soo (47-points) lead to 5-points in the west division of the OHL's western conference standings.
The Spirit managed to jump out to an early lead midway through the opening frame when defenseman Duncan Penman (1) beat Soo goalie Matthew Villalta with a blast from the top of the circle with assists from Albert Michnac and Aidan Prueter for a 1-0 Saginaw lead at 8:03 of the first period, while Soo forward Joe Carroll (5) answered by knotting things up with his fifth goal of the season later in the first at the 16:34 mark, sending the two teams into the first intermission tied at 1-goal apiece.
Sault Ste. Marie RW Cole MacKay (12) would take advantage of a Saginaw penalty early in the middle frame, scoring a power play goal for a 2-1 Soo lead at 6:12 of the second period, but the Spirit responded just over a minute later when Prueter (6) buried his sixth of the season from Danny Katic and Penman to tie the game at 2-goals apiece at 7:15 of the second period.
Saginaw leading scorer Cole Coskey (16) banged home the eventual game winner later in the third on a feed from Bode Wilde and Brady Gilmour for a 3-2 Spirit lead at 13:04 of the third period, before Blade Jenkins (13) sealed the deal with an empty net insurance goal on a feed from Prueter at 18:48 of the final frame.
Soo forward Keeghan Howdeshell was the No. 1 star of the game despite finishing with a minus-1 rating in the plus/minus category for the night, while Prueter (who happened to be a plus-3) would settle for the No. 2 star with 3-points (1-goal, 2-assists) and Coskey (who was a plus-1) after scoring the game winning goal was the No. 3 star; which some north of the Mackinaw Bridge might call “gamesmanship” I guess, however, that's really just par for the course at the GFL Memorial Gardens up in the Soo and it will only add fuel to this already heated rivalry.
Villalta stopped 19 of the 22 shots he faced in net for the Soo tonight, while Saginaw goal tender Ivan Prosvetov turned away 24 of the 26 shots he would see in between the pipes for the Spirit.
The Spirit will return home to host the Erie Otters for a 7:05 pm face off, where Detroit Red Wings legend Mickey Redmond will be in attendance along with an NHL trophy display at the Dow Event Center tomorrow night.