The Saginaw Spirit scored 5 goals in the third period, erasing a 3-goal deficit to beat the Soo Greyhounds 6-4 at the Dow Event Center tonight.
Trailing 4-1 after two periods it seemed as if the Spirit would carryover their lackluster performance from last week. Saturday, the Spirit were blanked 7-0 by the London Knights.
Sometimes it takes an unlikely player to spark a turnaround; tonight it was Spirit rookie Cole Coskey.
Coskey, a 16 year-old right wing from Zion, Illinois scored his first career OHL goal early in the third period to make it a 4-2 game, igniting the Spirit comeback. Getting used to the speed of the OHL and thankful for his first goal, Coskey looks to continue tonight's performance throughout his rookie campaign.
“It was an unreal experience to get the first one off my back,” Coskey said. “It just was unreal, it felt good. The (OHL) tempo is way faster than where I came from, but I've picked it up a little bit and I'm kind of getting used to it and going with the motion now.”
After Devon Paliani tied the game at four goals apiece, Kris Bennett scored the go-ahead goal at 15:30 of the third period. Will Petschenig added an empty-net goal to seal the Spirit victory.
Coach Greg Gilbert was obviously happy with the win, but it's without question he would like to see his team play more like they did in the third period tonight and less like they did against London.
“We found a way to win,” Gilbert said. “They were coming at us pretty good early and we just sat there and took it, very much a mirror image of what we did (Saturday) against London, we just sat there and waited and that's not the way I want our team to play. I want our team to be hard to play against every night. We were soft on Saturday, and we were soft early in the game today, and once we started to turn it up we created some opportunities and fortunately we finished, but we're not going to have much success if we're going to come out and play a soft, wait, game because a lot teams in this league are going to beat us and beat us bad.”
The Spirit gave up three quick goals early in the first period, prompting Gilbert to replace starting goal tender Evan Cormier with backup David Ovsjannikov. It was the second consecutive game in which Cormier was pulled early.
“He's making the first save and we are giving up some second opportunities, but there are goals that are getting through him now,” Gilbert said. “That's the thing with blocking-goalies, if the goals are getting through it's an issue.”
“We have goalie practice tomorrow, (Spirit goal tender coach) Phil Myre is coming in and he's obviously going to watch the game and the situations and go from there. Corm's (Evan Cormier) is a heck of a goalie but he has to get his focus where it needs to be for him to be a good goalie, and if there is too many things going on in his head then his performance is going to slip, and I think that may be a contributing factor. So, he needs to get his head straightened around, get focused on his day-to-day routine and what his purpose is.”
Coskey (1), Marcus Crawford (1), Paliani (2), Bennett (4), and Petschenig (1) all scored for the Spirit in the third period, helping erase the three-goal deficit. Tye Felhaber (4) started the Spirit scoring with a goal in the second period. Kirill Maksimov and Markus Neimelainen chipped in with two assists each respectively.
The Spirit will host the defending Memorial Cup champion Oshawa Generals Saturday night at the Dow. Face off is set for 7:05 p.m.