Sarnia, ONT. – The West Division-leading Saginaw Spirit finish up the five-game road swing with a 6-3 victory Friday evening over the rival Sarnia Sting at The Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ontario. The Spirit have won all five contests over the West Division rival Sting and 10 consecutive victories against Sarnia dating back to March 12 of last season.
2019 Carolina Hurricanes first overall pick Ryan Suzuki and forward Danil Antropov each lit-the-lamp twice for Saginaw in the 6-3 victory.
After a penalty to defenseman Marco Jakovljevic expired, Sarnia Sting leading scorer Sean Josling had an opportunity to open the scoring just over five minutes into the first period. Former Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ryan McGregor poked the puck past Spirit defenseman Riley Webb at the Sarnia blueline and raced the Spirit defender to the puck in the Saginaw zone. McGregor feathered a pass over to Josling, who deked to his forehand and tried to flip the puck top corner but the Saginaw goaltender Marshall Frappier got a piece and deflected the puck over the net to keep the game scoreless early.
After a hooking penalty to New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey and Webb was called for delay-of-game, Sarnia had a five-on-three man-power advantage for 1:22 seconds. Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux showed determination and beat a Sarnia defenseman to the puck, which was rolling in the Sarnia zone. Giroux circled the Sarnia net and nearly squeaked the puck between Sarnia’s rookie goaltender Benjamin Gaudreau and the left post.
Saginaw Spirit 2019 CHL Import first round pick Ilya Solovyov gave the Spirit a 1-0 lead 14:24 into the first period for the Belarusian defenseman’s fourth goal of the season. Forward Danil Antropov reached his stick around a Sarnia defenseman and poked the puck back to Solovyov at the Sarnia point. The Saginaw blueliner walked the point and unleashed a slapshot from center point into the top corner through a screen in front of Sting netminder Gaudreau for the Saginaw lead.
The Spirit made it a two-goal advantage just 2:11 later on tick-tack-toe passing that led to Carolina Hurricanes signee Ryan Suzuki’s 10th goal of the season. Fourth ranked North American 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti pulled up upon entry of the Sarnia zone and fired a cross ice pass to Coskey at the right half-wall. The right-winger quickly sent a pass toward Suzuki, who was in front of the Sting net. Suzuki, the 2019 first round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, attempted to tip the puck in on a one-timer but was tied up by a Sarnia defenseman. The Saginaw centerman kicked the puck up to his stick and hammered it into the back of the net before Gaudreau could dive across to keep the puck out.
Saginaw fired 20 shots on Gaudreau in the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the intermission.
The Sting came out strong after the intermission and test Spirit netminder Frappier with a scoring opportunity just over a minute into the second period. Defenseman Justin Nolet followed the play and was hit with a pass near the Saginaw blueline. Nolet’s shot was blocked by a Saginaw stick, but the puck bounced to Sean Josling to the left of the crease. Josling slapped at the puck, but Frappier was able to slide over and make the pad save and cover the puck.
Sarnia was able to cut the Saginaw lead down to one-goal 7:07 into the second period on Sam Bitten’s 10th goal of the season. The Sarnia left-winger tipped an attempted Spirit pass away at the Sarnia point and raced down the ice as the Spirit defenders chased him. Bitten used his speed to get the angle on the Saginaw players towards the front of the net. Bitten deked to his backhand and slid the puck through Frappier’s pads as the Spirit goaltender was sliding to his left to make it a 2-1 Saginaw advantage.
Forward Danil Antropov gave the Spirit back the two-goal lead with 4:09 remaining in the second period with his 10th goal of the season. Riley Webb, who made his return to the Saginaw lineup after he missed a month due to injury, kept the puck in the Sarnia zone and deked a Sting defender towards center ice. Webb fired a wrist shot from center point that clanked off the right post and bounced into the slot. Antropov batted the bouncing puck out of midair into the Sarnia net to make it a 3-1 game.
Sarnia cut into the Saginaw lead once again just 38 seconds later on a fortuitous Sting bounce, which led to Sarnia Sting captain Ryan McGregor’s 19th goal of the season. McGregor skated down the left-wing on a two-on-two rush into the Saginaw zone and tried to send a cross ice pass to Josling. The McGregor pass deflected off Coskey’s stick into the top left-corner of the Saginaw net to bring the Sting to within a goal.
Antropov notched his second goal of the period with just 50 seconds left in the middle frame for his 11th goal of the season. From the right face-off circle forward Jacob Goldowski sent a pass around two Sting defenders to Antropov, who cut towards the Sarnia slot. Antropov sniped a wrist shot over Gaudreau’s right shoulder to give the Spirit a 4-2 advantage just before the second intermission.
A high-sticking double minor penalty to Antropov carried over into the third period, but it was the Spirit who converted on Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker’s 14th goal of the season and sixth on the man-power disadvantage. The overager Busdeker controlled the puck in the neutral zone toe dragged around a Sarnia defenseman after he entered the Sting zone. Busdeker deked to the forehand on Gaudreau and chipped the shot across the goaltender’s body to make it a three-goal Spirit lead just 44 seconds into the third period.
Sarnia answered 8:44 into the final frame on rookie Ty Voit’s fourth goal of the season to make it a 5-3 game. The rookie right-winger received a pass from McGregor in stride as he entered the Saginaw zone. Voit protected the puck with his body and cut towards the Spirit slot, where his flipped a shot over Frappier’s left shoulder for the Sarnia goal.
Ryan Suzuki provided the game’s dagger with his second goal of the game with 3:17 left in regulation. Perfetti angled a pass back to Solovyov at the point, where the Spirit defenseman fired a quick pass to Suzuki in the left circle. The Spirit centerman patiently waited for an opening and sniped a shot short side past Gaudreau to give Saginaw the eventual 6-3 victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
Danil Antropov (SAG) 2G, ARyan Suzuki (SAG) 2GTy Voit (SAR) G
Two top-2020 NHL Draft prospect take the ice Saturday, February 1 when Cole Perfetti and the Saginaw Spirit host Jamie Drysdale and the Erie Otters for Shocks and Saves Night presented by Pulse 3 Foundation at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan. Puck drop for the second of four meetings this season is at 7:05 p.m.
Prior to the Spirit and Otters battle Saturday, Jiri Fischer, Derren McCarty and other Detroit Red Wings alumni, along with Saginaw celebrities, local EMT’s and doctors will take part in a game with the hope to raise funds for Great Lakes Bay public facilities to be equipped with Automatic External Defibulators or AED’s. There is a 4:00 p.m. puck drop set for the 13th annual Shocks and Saves Charity Game.
Fans can catch the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and www.wsgw.com with Art Lewis and the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” with host Charley Porter begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
To purchase tickets to any Saginaw Spirit home game call (989) 497-7747, visit www.saginawspirit.com, or visit the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw MI.