The Saginaw Spirit (28-12-2-2) ran its recent win streak to three straight games (including 10 of the last 11) following a 4-1 victory over the Windsor Spitfires (20-23-2-1) in front of 3,138 at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw tonight.
Spirit head coach Chris Lazary was honest about his team absorbing some constant pressure from a young Spit's team in the early part of the game, with Windsor jumping out to an early lead when Spitfires forward Daniel D'Amico (19) lit the lamp to give Windsor a 1-0 lead after scoring an unassisted goal at 9:23 of the first period, but Lazary was happy with how his Spirit team responded.
“It was a tough first ten minutes, we knew they were going to come out hot and they did,” Lazary admitted. “Then they scored first and we did a good job responding, then the rest of the way it was a pretty good hockey game, almost like a playoff game with the physicality and everything else.”
Spirit rookie sensation Cole Perfetti (18) knotted the game at 1-goal apiece, scoring his eighteenth goal of the season on a great second effort to bang home a rebound goal with assists coming from Owen Tippett and Blade Jenkins at 15:36 of the first period.
“Jenkins just got it and passed to Tipper in the slot,” Perfetti said, describing the setup of his first period goal. “(Owen Tippett) took a shot and I was going to the net. It came out and I kinda tapped it to myself, then I kind of lost my footing and was going down, but I was lucky enough to be able to slide it in the net.”
A couple minutes later, the Spirit would take advantage of a Windsor penalty when Perfetti set up Spirit defenseman Bode Wilde (12) who fired a blast from the point to score a power play goal with an additional assist coming from Cole Coskey to give Saginaw a 2-1 lead at 17:34 of the first period.
So, Perfetti was responsible for a goal and an assist within the first 18-minutes of the game, which is pretty impressive, however, Lazary was even more impressed with the young phenom's performance in every other aspect of his game tonight.
“For me, it was one of my favorite games he's played,” Lazary said of Perfetti's performance. “Not because of what he did with the puck, but his work away from the puck today was phenomenal. He loaded, he tracked, he was heavy, he went to the net there and won a couple battles and got rewarded with a goal.
“I love it,” Lazary added. “A little guy like him, he's sixteen years old, he's got some grit to him and he's got some skill. He might be, arguably, one of the smartest hockey I.Q.'s I've ever coached. He's a special talent, we knew that when we got him. We're lucky to have him, and he's going to be exciting to watch as he evolves.”
Following a scoreless second period, Jenkins (18) put the game out of reach in the third, scoring his eighteenth goal of the season with assists coming from Riley Webb and Justin Murray for a 3-1 Saginaw lead at 12:34 of the third, before D.J. Busdeker (11) added an empty net goal for a 4-1 lead at 17:42 of the final frame.
Both goal tenders were impressive with Windsor's Colton Incze stopping 35 of the 38 shots he saw in net for the Spit's, while Saginaw goal tender Ivan Prosvetov continues to shine, turning away 44 of the 45 shots he would see in between the pipes for the Spirit tonight.
The Spirit will kick off a 5-game road trip with a visit to take on the Peterborough Petes with a 7:05 pm face off at the Peterborough Memorial Gardens in Peterborough, ON Thursday night.
Video of Blade Jenkins' celly following his third period goal: