The Saginaw Spirit (19-21-6-2) never gave up and battled to the bitter end, however, it would ultimately fall to the Sarnia Sting (24-18-5-1) in a 6-5 penalty-filled road loss at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, ON this afternoon.
Following a scoreless first period, the Sting would strike first early in the second period when forward Drake Rymsha (19) managed to sneak one past Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier for his nineteenth of the season from Jordan Kyrou and Jeff King to give the Sting a 1-0 lead at 6:20 of the second period.
The Spirit would answer with a power play goal from Matthew Kreis (7) for his seventh of the season from Filip Hronek and Marcus Crawford to tie the game at 1 goal apiece at the 8:44 mark of the second period.
Kreis' line mate, overager Kris Bennett (16) followed with his sixteenth goal of the season, another power play goal with assists coming from Kreis and Crawford for a 2-1 Spirit lead at 12:26 of the second period.
In a game that had gotten progressively more chippy in the second period the Spirit would yield 3 late goals in the middle frame, which included back to back power play goals from Sarnia forward Troy Lajeunesse just 16 seconds apart.
Following multiple penalties to both teams, the Spirit ended up on the PK defending a 5 on 3 man-advantage which Lajeunesse (16) would convert for his sixteenth of the season to tie the game at 2 goals apiece at 15:49 of the second period.
Lajeunesse (17) added his seventeenth goal of the season just 16 seconds later, a power play goal to give the Sting a 3-2 lead at 16:05 of the second period.
Sarnia right wing Sean Josling (7) scored his seventh goal of the season just over a minute later with assists from Jaden Lindo and Franco Sproviero at 17:10 of the second, taking a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
After killing back to back penalties to Spirit defenseman Hayden Davis and Hronek respectively early in the third period, Bennett (17) would beat Sarnia goal tender Aidan Hughes for his seventeenth goal of the season to bring the Spirit to within a goal (4-3) of the Sting at the 9:47 mark of the third period with assists from Crawford and Hayden Hodgson.
Sarnia answered with a heart breaking goal from Jordan Kyrou (19) his nineteenth of the season to extend the Sting lead to 5-3 at 10:47 of the third period.
However, the Spirit would not go quietly into the night, showing it still had some fight left when Brady Gilmour (19) re-directed a Crawford shot from the point to bring the Spirit to within 1 goal (5-4) of the Sting at the 14:30 mark of the third period. D.J. Busdeker also assisted on the Gilmour goal.
Two more late penalties for the Spirit seemed to end any chances of a Saginaw comeback as Sarnia added an empty net goal to take a 6-4 lead at 18:25 of the period, however, Hodgson would make it interesting, scoring his twenty-ninth goal of the season from Crawford and Hronek at 19:13 of the final period to make it a 6-5 game, which is where the Spirit 4 game win streak would end as time ran out.
Bennett led the Spirit scoring with 2 goals today, while Kreis and Hodgson added 1-goal and 1-assist each respectively. Crawford had an incredible 5-assists today, while Hronek recorded his usual two points with 2-assists today.
Cormier turned away 28 of the 34 shots he faced in between the pipes for the Spirit this afternoon.
The Spirit (with 46-points) still remain 2-points behind the Flint Firebirds (46-points) for the eighth and final western conference playoff spot and will try to get back on track Wednesday when it welcomes the Soo Greyhounds to the Dow Event Center for a 7:05 pm game where the team will welcome former captain and current Florida Panther (soon to be NHL all star) forward Vincent Trochek to retire his No. 89 Spirit jersey. Trochek will be available for autographs in the Bud Light Blue Line Club prior to the game.