The Saginaw Spirit (3-10-2-1) got a much needed 4-2 victory over the Barrie Colts (6-9-2-0) at the Dow Event Center tonight, however, the win may have come at a cost after Mitchell Stephens (second round pick Tampa Bay Lightning 2015 NHL draft) left the game following a knee-to-knee collision with Barrie right wing Adrian Carbonara at 16:907 of the third period.
Carbonara received a 2-minute minor penalty for kneeing, but the cost and consequences for Stephens and the Spirit could be major.
The game started out very physical early after Barrie forward Kyle Heitzner was whistled for slashing at 3:56 of the first period. The Spirit took full advantage when Stephens (5) scored a power play goal at the 5:00 mark of the period for his fifth tally of the season.
Stephens' power play goal marks the first time Saginaw has scored power play goals in consecutive games this season, which is a huge boost for a Spirit power play which ranks last (5 for 69) in the Ontario Hockey League.
Spirit forward Mike Davies also left the game after taking a puck to the jaw off the stick of defenseman Filip Hronek (second round pick Detroit Red Wings 2016 NHL draft) in the second period. Thankfully Hronek did not get a lot on the shot, which ended up like a high knuckle-ball, however, it was a direct hit and Davies would not return.
The Colts managed to tie the game when Aidan Brown (1) scored his first goal of the season at 5:25 of the third period.
The Spirit would answer just a minute-and-a-half later when Matthew Kreis (1) scored his first goal of the season from Tye Felhaber at 6:59 of the third period.
Felhaber (4) would followed with the eventual game winner, his fourth of the season from Keaton Middleton (fourth round pick Toronto Maple Leafs 2016 NHL draft) and Kreis at 9:43 of the third.
Lucas Chiodo (6) would get the Colts to within one goal of the Spirit with his sixth goal of the season at 12:31 of the third period.
Kris Bennett intercepted a Barrie pass and found Hayden Hodgson (4) who banged home the empty net insurance goal with 24 seconds remaining in the game.
The Spirit played, arguably, its most complete game of the season, out shooting the Colts 50-31 tonight, however, the injuries could end up hurting them in the long run.
Evan Cormier had another impressive night in between the pipes turning away 29 of the 31 shots he faced.
The Spirit will hit the road Friday as they head up I-75 north to play the Soo Greyhounds before returning to the Dow Event Center Sat. to host the Peterborough Petes.