The Saginaw Spirit are finally starting to play like the team that was advertised prior to the start of the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League season.
Seven different players scored, including 3 defensemen as the Spirit (4-10-2-1) skated to its third straight victory (fourth of the season) with a decisive 7-4 win over the Peterborough Petes (9-6-0-3) in front of 3,654 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
Two defensemen scored early to give the Spirit a 2-1 lead in the first period. Robert Proner (1) scored his first career OHL goal at 1:59 of the opening period to get the Spirit on the board.
After Peterborough center Jonathan Ang (Florida Panthers fourth round pick 2016 NHL draft) was whistled for slashing at 3:39 of the first period, Saginaw would capitalize on the power play for the fourth game in a row when Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings second round pick 2016 NHL draft) scored his second goal of the season at the 4:21 mark.
Early in the second period Peterborough defenseman Cole Fraser was called for tripping at the 1:30 mark, opening the door for another Spirit power play goal when Hayden Hodgson (5) scored his fifth of the season from Brady Gilmour and Hronek at 3:06 of the second for a 3-1 lead.
The Spirit would go on to brake the game wide open, scoring three more second period goals, while chasing Peterborough starting goal tender Dylan Wells in exchange for Scott Smith halfway through the period.
Spirit overage forward Kris Bennett (3), defenseman Keaton Middleton (Toronto Maple Leafs fourth round pick 2016 NHL draft), and captain Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning second round pick 2016 NHL draft) all scored on Wells in the second period for a 6-1 cushion heading into the second intermission.
Smith would only allow one more Spirit goal when Jesse Barwell (2) scored a shorthanded goal from Hronek and Bennett at 8:54 of the third period. The Petes would, however, manage 3 third period goals to narrow the gap.
Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier continued his strong play between the pipes stopping 29 of the 33 shots he would face.
Three different players recorded a 3-point night to lead the Spirit scoring attack: Hronek, Hodgson, and Bennett all scored a goal and 2-assists each respectively, while defenseman Marcus Crawford added two assists for Saginaw.
The Spirit have a quick turn-around (with just 3 days off) as they get set to host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (12-7-1-0) Wednesday Nov. 16, for the annual 10:45 am Education Day Game, a game which is notoriously the loudest of the year as thousands of local elementary school kids descend on the Dow Event Center for the unique morning game.
The Spirit will then host the first place Erie Otters (15-4-1-0) Friday Nov. 18, and the Owen Sound Attack (10-10-1-0) Sat. Nov. 19, to round out a four game home stretch at the Dow Event Center kicking off a Nov. and Dec. home-friendly schedule for Saginaw after starting the season with 12 of its first 17 games on the road.