The Saginaw Spirit (4-0) scored four unanswered goals (three in the third period, along with a late second period goal) to erase a 4-2 deficit and remain undefeated in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League pre season with a 6-4 come-from-behind victory over the Flint Firebirds (2-2) at the Flint Iceland Arena in Flushing, MI tonight.
Trailing 4-2 just past the midway point of the second period, Spirit veteran forward Danny Katic (1) scored his first goal of the pre season with assists coming from Saginaw defenseman Duncan Penman and rookie forward Cole Perfetti at 13:08 of the middle frame, cutting the Firebirds' lead to 4-3 heading into the second intermission.
The Spirit came out flying in the final period, scoring twice in the first 65-seconds when second year forward Camaryn Baber (1) buried his first of the pre season from Perfetti and Cole Coskey to tie the game at 4-goals apiece just :36 seconds into the the third period, before another second year Saginaw forward, Nicholas Porco (1) scored the eventual game-winner just 29-seconds later, his first of the pre season from Albert Michnac and D.J. Busdeker for a 5-4 Spirit lead at the 1:05 mark of the third.
Busdeker (3) added an insurance goal, his third of the pre season, with assists coming from defenseman Mason Millman and forward Max Grondin (who was just returned, 2 days ago, by the Carolina Hurricanes, who had invited Grondin as a free agent to its 2018 NHL training camp) to round out the scoring for a 6-4 Spirit lead at 15:37 of the final frame.
The Firebirds had jumped out to an early lead when Riley McCourt (1) scored his first goal of the pre season from Hunter Holmes and C.J. Clarke for a 1-0 Flint lead at 9:59 of the first period, however, the Spirit would answer just 45-seconds later when Michnac (1) found the back of the net for his first of the pre season with assists coming from Coskey and Spirit rookie Ethan Cardwell to tie the game at 1-goal apiece at 10:44 of the first period.
Flint would regain the lead less than 2-minutes later when Firebirds RW Jake Durham (2) scored his second of the pre season from Evan Vierling and Clarke for a 2-1 Flint lead at 12:02 of the first period.
Second year Spirit forward Aidan Prueter (3) knotted the game with his third goal of the pre season with assists coming from Penman and Perfetti at 18:36 of the opening period, before the two rivals skated into the first intermission tied at 2-goals apiece, but not before Busdeker was whistled for a 2-minute slashing penalty in the final 7-seconds of the period.
The Firebirds pulled ahead with a pair of second period goals when Jack Wismer (2) converted the power play with his second goal of the playoffs with assists coming from Clarke and Holmes for a 3-2 lead just :26 seconds into the second period, while Flint forward Kyle Harris (1) managed to give his team a 4-2 lead with his first goal of the pre season from Holmes and Jack Phibbs at 9:45 of the second period, which would eventually lead to the four unanswered Saginaw goals.
The Spirit are really playing unselfish, team hockey, spreading the offensive wealth tonight, as 12 of the 15 Saginaw skaters showed up with at least 1-point in the official score sheet, led by Perfetti, the top Spirit draft pick (No. 4 overall) in the 2018 OHL priority selection draft, who finished with 3-points (3-assists) to lead the Spirit, followed by Busdeker and Michnac, who each had 2-points apiece (1-goal and 1-assist) respectively, while Coskey and Penman also added 2-points (2-assists each) apiece as well.
Spirit rookie goal tender Tristan Lennox started for Saginaw, stopping 14 of the 18 shots he would face in the first 30:09 between the pipes, before second year goal tender Cam Lamour turned away all 8-shots he saw in the final 29:51 in net for the Spirit, while Flint goal tender Luke Cavallin stopped 17 of the 23 shots he saw in net for the Firebirds tonight.
The Spirit and Firebirds will complete the back end of a home and home series when Saginaw welcomes Flint to the Dow Event Center to wrap up the 2018 OHL pre season at 7:05 pm tomorrow night.