Saginaw, MI – On Wednesday night, the Saginaw Spirit hosted the Soo Greyhounds at The Dow Event Center for game four of their first round series in the OHL Playoffs. The Spirit opened up strong with a goal from Cole Coskey on the game's first shift, but the Greyhounds rebounded with a dominant second period featuring three goals, two of which came from Boris Katchouk. In the third period, both the Spirit and Greyhounds produced two goals each, leading to a final score of 5-3.
In the first period, the Spirit came out energized and quickly scored first for the second consecutive contest. On the play, Hayden Davis floated the puck toward the net that was knocked down by Blade Jenkins. Cole Coskey, standing off to the side of the net, flipped the puck past the Soo goaltender. The Soo committed two penalties during the frame, which allowed the Spirit to mount a pair of offensively-driven efforts with the man advantage, but Saginaw could not capitalize on either opportunity. The Greyhounds outshot the Spirit 6-5 in the first period and the Spirit took a lead into the intermission for the first time in the series.
During the second stanza, the Soo took just over five minutes to strike back with a game-tying goal courtesy of Katchouk. On the play, Katchouk received a stretch pass from Rasmus Sandin to send the Tampa Bay Lightning prospect on an uncontested breakaway. Katchouk proceeded to put a fake on Spirit netminder Evan Cormier and scored via the backhand with 5:24 expired in the period.
Less than three minutes later, the Greyhounds struck once again as Keeghan Howdeshell sent a back-door pass to Tim Gettinger, who chipped the puck into the net for a 2-1 lead.
Later on, the Soo went on a powerplay in the waning minutes of the second period and were able to convert, securing a 3-1 lead. Although Cormier stifled the first shot from Katchouk, the Soo's alternate captain was able to sneak a second effort between the pipes for his 5th goal of the series. The Soo maintained a 15-6 edge in shots during the middle period.
For the final frame, the Soo exited the locker room looking to expand on their two-goal lead and were able to do just that. On the period's first shift, Conor Timmins skated towards the slot before unleashing a heavy wrist shot into the Spirit net with 56 seconds expired.
Showing resiliency, the Spirit responded with a goal of their own 1:29 later to cut Sault Ste. Marie's lead to two goals as D.J. Busdeker lit the lamp. On the play, Jake Goldowski dished to Busdeker, who cut between two Greyhound defenders to create some space before ripping a wrist shot glove-side passed Villalta with 17:35 remaining in the third period.
The Spirit continued to push the puck, and Busdeker found the twine once more in the final frame to pull Saginaw with one goal. Nicholas Porco went to circle behind the Hounds' net and passed back to Busdeker, who was waiting at the doorstep of the crease and quickly tapped the puck into the net for his 2nd goal of the game with 3:41 remaining.
The Spirit pulled Cormier in favor of an extra skater and continually created chances in the Soo defensive zone but were not able to stifle Sault Ste. Marie's attempts at an empty net goal, which Katchouk eventually capitalized on for his 3rd goal of the night. Both squads registered seven shots apiece in the final stanza.
As a result, the Saginaw Spirit have been eliminated from the 2017-18 OHL Playoffs. Game four also served as the final OHL contest for Spirit overage players Evan Cormier, Marcus Crawford and Mason Kohn.
Story courtesy of the Saginaw Spirit.
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