Spirit win second game in as many nights with 4-2 decisive victory over No. 3 Erie Otters

Kris Bennett led the Spirit for the second straight game with 2 goals and 1 assist tonight.....

Posted In: Sports, Saginaw Spirit,   By: Jason Marcoux

08th January, 2017     0

The Saginaw Spirit (15-16-5-2) continued its winning ways with a 4-2 victory over the Ontario Hockey Leagues No. 3 ranked team, the Erie Otters (26-9-2-1) at the Dow Event Center tonight. 
 
The win sets up a big Tue. night matchup when the Spirit will host in-state rival the Flint Firebirds (19-17-1-2) for a 7:05 pm face off at the Dow Event Center. The Spirit remain 4-points behind the Firebirds for the eighth and final OHL western conference playoff spot. 
 
The Spirit jumped on Erie goal tender Troy Timpano early when Saginaw defenseman Markus Niemelainen (a third round pick of the Edmonton Oilers, 63 overall, in the 2016 NHL draft) scored his first goal of the season from Kris Bennett at 3:56 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. 
 
Spirit winger Mike Davies, playing in just his second game back from having his jaw wired shut after taking a puck to the face against the Barrie Colts back on Nov. 5, was whistled for goal tender interference at 6:35 of the first period and it didn't take the Otters' long to capitalize when Kyle Pettit (a sixth round pick of the Vancouver Canucks,156 overall in the 2014 NHL draft, scored his seventeenth goal of the season while on the power play at the 6:42 mark of the first period to tie the game at one goal apiece. 
 
The Spirit would answer with its own power play goal after Erie defenseman Josh Wainman was whistled for hooking at 10:37 of the first period. 
 
Spirit overage forward Kris Bennett (10) carried over his hot hand from last night, burying his tenth of the season (while on the power play) from Brady Gilmour and Hayden Hodgson at 11:46 of the first period to take a 2-1 Spirit lead into the first intermission. 
 
Bennett (11) kept his hot streak going in the second period, giving the Spirit a 3-1 lead with his eleventh of the season at 4:16 of the second period with assists coming from Hodgson and Marcus Crawford.
 
Second year Spirit forward Kirill Maksimov (6) who scored the game clinching shootout goal last night, added an insurance goal, his sixth of the season, at 12:44 of the second period with an assist coming from Gilmour for a 4-1 lead to round out the Spirit scoring. 
 
Bennett led the way again for the Spirit tonight with 2-goals, and 1-assist for a 3-point night, while Niemelainen and Maksimov finished with one goal each respectively. Hodgson and Gilmour finished with 2-assists each respectively and Crawford added an assist as well. 
 
Goal tender Evan Cormier (a fourth round pick of the New Jersey Devils, 105 overall, in the 2016 NHL draft) turned in another solid performance stopping 21 of the 23 Erie shots he would face in net for the Spirit tonight.
 
The Spirit will now look to prepare for an important matchup on Tue. with Flint, trying to close the gap on the four points between them and the Firebirds for the eighth and final OHL western conference playoff spot, while also chipping away at the gap in the I-75 Divide Cup Series standings between the two rivals. 
 
Flint leads the 2016-17 I-75 Divide Cup Series 3-1 this year, while holding a 7-3-0-1 lead in the all time series. 
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