Ottawa ONT. – The West Division-leading Saginaw Spirit dropped the final game of the Eastern swing 5-2 against the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa 67’s at TD Place in Ottawa, Ontario Sunday afternoon. The game was just the second defeat for the Spirit in their last eight games.
Neither team converted on 11 man-power advantages in the penalty filled contest, where Saginaw outshot the 67’s, 41-26.
Ottawa 67’s forward Austin Keating collected a goal and two assists in the overager’s second game back from injury.
The Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) leading scorer Cole Perfetti tallied his 28th goal of the season in the Spirit defeat.
After a strong opening shift for the Saginaw Spirit was weathered by the 67’s, a giveaway at the Saginaw blueline led to a 1-0 Ottawa lead just 1:04 into the first period. A Saginaw defenseman gave the puck away to overager Austin Keating, who feathered a pass over to fifth rated 2020 NHL Draft prospect Marco Rossi. The 67’s leading scorer Rossi skated down to the right face-off dot and sniped a wrist shot past Spirit goaltender Marshall Frappier’s blocker for the one-goal lead.
Saginaw nearly tied the game just over six minutes into the first period off a two-on-two rush. Forward Danny Katic dropped a pass off to Jake Goldowski at the top of the right circle, where Goldowski made a move wide around an Ottawa defender and snapped a shot that 67’s netminder Cedrick Andree stopped with a right toe save. The rebound bounce to Camaryn Baber, who tried to bounce a shot off Andree from behind the net that the Ottawa goaltender just kept out to keep the 67’s ahead by a goal.
After a four-minute penalty called to Merrick Rippon put the Spirit on the man-power advantage, the 67s notched a shorthanded tally to put Ottawa ahead two goals. A giveaway at the Ottawa blueline sent Keating down the ice with right-winger Adam Varga on a two-on-none rush. The overage forward Keating sent a pass over to Varga to the right of the crease for the one-timer past a sliding Frappier for Varga’s sixth goal of the season 14:18 into the first frame.
After the teams traded power plays the Spirit nearly cut into the Ottawa lead in the final minute of the opening period. Carolina Hurricanes first round pick Ryan Suzuki sent a pass down to the North American fourth rated 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti in the Ottawa slot. Perfetti reached his stick around an Ottawa defenseman and fired a turnaround shot that Andree stopped with a pad save. New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey tried to stuff the rebound past the 67s netminder but couldn’t force it past Andree.
Ottawa took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission despite a heavy shot advantage for the Saginaw Spirit, 18-7.
After an early tripping penalty called to Saginaw, Michigan native Mitchell Smith put the Spirit on the man-power disadvantage. Coskey and Perfetti came down on a shorthanded rush into the Ottawa zone and nearly tied the game. Coskey took a shot that was fought off by Andree’s pad from the right face-off dot that rebounded left, where Perfetti fired the rebound off the left post and went into the Ottawa corner.
After a penalty to Ryan Suzuki lead to what was originally a powerplay goal for Ottawa’s Noel Hoefenmayer, Saginaw Spirit head coach Chris Lazary used a coach’s challenge to look for goaltender interference on the play. After a lengthy review the officials determined there was incidental contact on Frappier which prevented the Spirit netminder from making the save to disallow the goal.
Less than a minute after the disallowed goal, Cole Perfetti made it a two-goal swing after the Saginaw forward connected for his 28th goal of the season 8:19 into the second frame. Ryan Suzuki, who returned to the ice after his penalty expired, tied up the puck on the face-off in the offensive zone to the left of the goaltender Andree. The Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti gained control of the loose puck and quickly fired a shot past the Ottawa goaltender before he was able to get set to bring the Spirit within a goal.
The 67’s regained the two-goal lead on a breakaway after the Spirit were caught in a shift change on Austin Keating’s 21st goal of the season with just 1:31 left in the second period. Overage defenseman Noel Hoefenmayer led Keating, who got behind the Saginaw defense as they changed, with a pass from the Ottawa blueline for a breakaway. The Ottawa forward fired a wrist shot from the left circle just under the crossbar to give the Ottawa 67’s a 3-1 lead just before the second intermission.
Saginaw had taken 31 shots through the first two periods, but they trailed by two goals after 40 minutes of play.
New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins nearly cut the Ottawa lead down to a goal on a two-on-one rush with Spirit captain Damien Giroux. The Jackson, Michigan native Jenkins received a pass from Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Mason Millman and skated into the 67’s zone down the right-wing. With the pass taken away by the Ottawa defender, Jenkins sent a wrist shot from the right face-off dot that beat Andree but clanked off the crossbar and deflected out of play.
After Daylon Groulx penalties for interference on the goaltender, overager D.J. Busdeker nearly cut into the 67’s lead on the power play just over eight minutes into the final frame. Saginaw Spirit all-time games leader Coskey controlled the puck at the right half-wall of the 67’s zone and sent a pass through the slot to the waiting Busdeker. The Saginaw defenseman beat Andree with a wrist shot but the puck whistled over the crossbar.
Spirit netminder Frappier kept Saginaw in the game with a save with just over eight minutes left in regulation. Felix-Antoine Tourigny had the puck in the Saginaw left corner and centered a pass to the slot, where defenseman Alec Belanger waited. Belanger tried to sneak and puck the puck between Frappier and the left post but the Spirit netminder held strong to keep the Spirit down two goals.
Ottawa 67’s leading goal scorer Jack Quinn notched his 36th goal of the season on a breakaway chance to make it a two-goal Ottawa lead once again. Saginaw turned the puck over to the New Jersey Devils prospect Mitchell Hoelscher at the Ottawa blueline, who hit Quinn with a pass for the breakaway. The 2020 NHL Draft prospect Quinn deked to the forehand but Frappier made the initial save, however the puck ricocheted off Quinn’s skate into the Spirit net with 6:29 left in regulation.
With Frappier pulled for an extra attacker for the Spirit, Ottawa’s Quinn made it a three-goal game with an empty-net tally with 1:33 left in regulation for the Ottawa 67’s eventual 5-2 victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
Austin Keating (OTT) G, 2ACedrick Andree (OTT) W, 39 SVSNoel Hoefenmayer (OTT) A
The Saginaw Spirit finish up their five-game road swing Friday, January 31 with a matchup against West Division rival Sarnia Sting from the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ontario. There is a 7:05 p.m. puck drop scheduled for the fifth of six regular season meetings of the season.
The Spirit are unbeaten through the first four games of the season against the rival Sarnia Sting and have outscored the Sting 30-18 in those four contests.
Fans can catch all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and www.wsgw.com with the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
Fans can visit the Buffalo Wild Wings location at 2690 Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw and join the official “Watch Party” for all Spirit away games. Admission is free of charge.
The Saginaw Spirit’s next home game set for February 1 when the Spirit host the Midwest Division’s Erie Otters from the Wendler Arena inside The Dow Event Center. Puck drop for the second meeting of the season starts at 7:05 p.m.
February 1 marks the return of the 13th annual Shocks and Saves Night presented by the Pulse 3 Foundation at The Dow Event Center. Prior to the battle between the Spirit and Otters, the Detroit Red Wings alumni and local EMT’s and doctors take part in a game to raise funds in order for Great Lakes Bay public facilities to be equipped with Automatic External Defibulators or AED’s. Puck drop for the 13th annual Shocks and Saves Charity game begins at 4:30 p.m.
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.