The Saginaw Spirit (22-26-7-2) converted 4 of 6 power play opportunities and picked up 2 crucial points in the Ontario Hockey League standings with a 6-5 come from behind victory over the Sarnia Sting (26-25-5-1) at the Progressive Auto Sales arena this afternoon.
With the win, the Spirit (53 points) now trail the Sting (58 points) by just five points, and the Flint Firebirds (59 points) by six points for the final western conference playoff spot.
The Sting jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a power play goal by defenseman Jordan Ernst (8) at 8:19 of the first period following a 2 minute hooking penalty to Spirit defenseman Hayden Davis.
The Spirit would answer after Sarnia forward Drake Rymsha was called for a 2 minute tripping penalty late in the first period. Spirit forward Hayden Hodgson (31) beat Sting goal tender Justin Fazio to tie the game at a goal apiece at the 17:29 mark of the first period while on the power play for his thirty-first tally of the season with assists coming from Filip Hronek and Marcus Crawford.
The sting followed with back to back goals to take a 3-1 lead early in the second period on a goal from Jaden Lindo (17) at the 3:11 mark, followed by a power play goal from Jordan Kyrou (26) at 5:45 of the second period.
The Spirit would answer, making it a one goal game 3-2 when defenseman Marcus Crawford (5) took advantage of a penalty to Sarnia forward Franco Sproveiro at 8:37 of the second period, converting the power play goal for his fifth of the season from Hronek and Matthew Kreis at 9:32 of the second period.
Kyrou, however, managed to sneak one past Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier to stretch the Sarnia lead back to 2 goals (4-2) just 8 seconds later with his twenty-seventh of the season at 9:38 of the second period.
The Spirit battled back, chipping away at Sarnia's 2-goal lead when Kreis (10) buried his tenth of the season from Crawford and Hodgson to get to within a goal (4-3) of the Sting at 11:59 of the second period.
The Spirit would then tie the game up at 4 goals apiece following yet another Sarnia penalty, this one to forward Anthony Salinitri early in the final period, as Hodgson (32) was able to convert the power play opportunity for his second goal of the game with assists from Crawford and Hronek at 2:24 of the third period.
Building on the early third period momentum, Hronek (12) gave the Spirit its first lead of the game (5-4) with his twelfth of the season on a feed from Davis at the 4:23 mark of the third period.
Salinitri was then whistled for a 2 minute check-from-behind penalty just 11 seconds following the Hronek goal, leading to Saginaw's fourth power play goal of the game, coming from Kris Bennett (20) who beat Fazio for his twentieth of the season from Kreis and Crawford and a 6-4 Spirit lead at 5:44 of the third period.
Rymsha (24) added one more for Sarnia, however, it would not be enough as the Spirit would hang on for the 6-5 victory.
Crawford paced the Spirit with 5 points (1-G, 4-A) offensively, while his fellow defenseman Hronek added 4 points (1-G, 3-A) followed by Hodgson (2-G, 1-A) and Kreis (1-G, 2-A) with 3 points each respectively; along with Davis' 1-assist and Bennett's 1-goal which turned out to be the game winner.
Cormier turned away 27 of the 32 shots he faced in net for the Spirit today, while his counterpart, Fazio stopped 34 of the 40 Saginaw shots.
The Spirit will look to keep the momentum going with a Thursday visit to the WFCU Centre in Windsor, ON to take on the Spitfires for a 7:05 pm face off before returning home to take on the North Bay Battallion at 7:05 pm Friday evening at the Dow Event Center.