The Saginaw Spirit (2-1) suffered its first setback of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League western conference finals and now lead the (best of seven) series just 2-games-to-1 following a 5-2 loss to the Guelph Storm (1-2) in front of 4,698 at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, ON tonight.
The Spirit were playing without the services of overage defenseman Justin Murray, who was suspended 4-games for a hit on Guelph forward MacKenzie Entwistle (who played the entire game tonight) back in game-2, and goal tender Ivan Prosvetov, who was suspended 5-games for unintentionally batting the puck into the crowd during a stoppage of play in game-2 as well.
Spirit rookie goal tender Tristan Lennox rose to the occasion with an impressive 41-save performance, turning away 41 of the 45 shots he would face in net, while D.J. Busdeker dropped back on defense to fill in for Murray, as forward Danny Katic balanced out the lines, skating in his first game since suffering an upper body injury against the Ottawa 67's back on Jan. 27, of this year.
Saginaw defensemen Bode Wilde (a second round pick of the New York Islanders) and Hayden Davis, along with Reagan O'Grady and particularly, Detroit Red Wings' prospect Reilly Webb, were all outstanding defensively in the absence of Murray tonight; battling for loose pucks in the defensive zone corners, while clearing out the front of the net, however, one of their defensive brothers, Mason Millman, suffered a severe injury early in the game and did not return, which could be devastating for the Spirit back end.
With the game tied at 2-goals apiece early in the third frame, Guelph LW Cedric Ralph (1) scored the eventual game winner at 2:20 of the third period, before a Saginaw interference call later in the frame led to Storm RW Nate Schnarr (5) scoring a power play goal for a 4-2 Guelph lead at the 12:58 mark, which was followed by an empty net goal from Keegan Stevenson (1) at 18:02 of the third.
The Storm managed to jump out to an early lead when LW Zachary Roberts (2) scored to give Guelph a 1-0 lead at 15:49 of the opening period, while Storm forward Isaac Ratcliffe (8) added his eighth of the playoffs for a 2-0 Guelph lead just :54 seconds into the second period.
Saginaw would respond just a few minutes later in the middle frame when Spirit forward Owen Tippett (10) cut the Guelph lead to 2-1 with an assist coming from Albert Michnac at 3:59 of the second period, before O'Grady (2) knotted things up with his second goal of the playoffs with assists coming from Cole Perfetti and Cole Coskey to tie the game at 2-goals apiece at 18:36 of the second period.
The Spirit will now get one day of rest before a critical game-4 matchup with the Storm right back here at the Sleeman Centre, where a 7 pm puck drop is scheduled Wednesday night, before returning home for game-5 at the Dow Event Center for a 7:05 pm face off on Friday night.
Video of Bode Wilde game-2 goal, tying the game late to force overtime: