Kingston, ONT. – The Western Conference-leading Saginaw Spirit erased a four-goal third period deficit to defeat the Kingston Frontenacs 5-4 on the road Saturday evening in a thriller.
Captain Damien Giroux and 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti were the catalysts for the four-goal third period comeback with four points each. Giroux, a 2018 Minnesota Wild fifth round pick, provided the game-winner with merely 2.5 seconds left in regulation. The Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti now leads the entire Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with 81 points this season.
Saginaw Spirit forward Camaryn Baber nearly opened the scoring just 31 seconds into the opening frame with a breakaway opportunity. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native Baber poked the puck past a Kingston defenseman, who pinched at the Saginaw blueline and raced down the ice all alone. Baber faked a shot to force Frontenacs netminder Ryan Dugas to go down, but the Spirit forward could not quite lift the puck over the goaltender’s shoulder.
Kingston took an early lead on rookie Martin Chromiak’s fifth goal of the season just 3:15 into the opening frame. Exceptional status granted rookie Shane Wright sent a pass to Chromiak in the Spirit slot, who had cut towards the Saginaw net. Chromiak made a quick deke to the forehand and tucked the puck around Saginaw goaltender Tristan Lennox’s outstretched pad to give Kingston the 1-0 lead.
Scoring chances throughout the rest of the first period was scarce with most shots fired from the outside. Saginaw outshot the Frontenacs in the first period 8-7 but trailed 1-0 as the teams went into the intermission. Each team had a man-power advantage in the first period but failed to convert on the power play opportunity.
New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey nearly tied the game just over five minutes into the second frame after the right-winger showed off his patience. Fourth ranked 2020 NHL Draft North American prospect Cole Perfetti fed Coskey with a pass in the neutral zone and the Zion, Illinois native went wide-right in the Kingston zone. Coskey waited out the Frontenacs defenseman and the sped around the back of the Kingston net for the wraparound chance but Dugas got to the left post in time to keep the Frontenacs ahead 1-0.
Right-winger Lucas Rowe extended the Kingston lead to two-goals 9:13 into the second period with his sixth goal of the season. Forward Dustin Hutton gained control of the puck from a Saginaw defender and attempted a pass across the slot that was blocked by a Spirit defenseman, but the puck remained in the top of the slot. Rowe, a former London Knights first round pick, jumped on the loose puck and quickly fired a shot that beat Lennox’s blocker to give Kingston a 2-0 lead.
2020 NHL Draft prospect Zayde Wisdom gave the Frontenacs a 3-0 lead with a power play marker 13:01 into the middle frame. Overage defenseman Jakob Brahaney’s point shot rebounded off Lennox to the left of the crease and was unable to corral the puck. Wisdom was able to slap the loose puck through Lennox for his 21st goal of the season.
Grand Blanc, Michigan native Dalton Duhart had an opportunity to cut into the Kingston lead with just under five minutes left in the second period. Rookie forward T-Bone Codd gained possession of the puck in the Kingston corner and centered a pass to Duhart in the right face-off circle. The Spirit forward snapped a shot from the face-off dot through a screen supplied by Danil Antropov but Dugas was able to deny the shot.
Despite Saginaw’s 23-21 shot advantage, Kingston controlled much of the play throughout the first two periods and took a 3-0 lead into the third period.
15-year old forward Shane Wright gave the Frontenacs a 4-0 lead just 1:08 in the third period with his 23rd goal of the season. The rookie showcased his speed after he chipped the puck around a Saginaw defenseman at the Kingston blueline and flew down the ice on a two-on-one rush. Wright skated down to the right face-off dot and sniped a wrist shot over Lennox’s left-shoulder to make it a four-goal Kingston lead.
‘A’ rated 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti put Saginaw on the board 4:24 into the third period with his 26th goal of the season. Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker gained control of the puck in the Kingston corner and centered a pass to the left face-off dot, where Perfetti waited. The Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti waited for Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux to skate in front Dugas for the screen and Perfetti fired the puck short side to make it a 4-1 Frontenacs lead.
Overage defenseman Busdeker cut the Kingston lead to two goals 6:08 into the third period with his 12th goal of the year. Danil Antropov received a pass in the slot from Perfetti and deked Dugas to the backhand and dropped a pass over to Busdeker to his left. The Saginaw defenseman one-timed the puck into the open left-side of the net to make it a 4-2 game.
Saginaw, Michigan native Mitchell Smith notched his 7th goal of the season on a three-on-two rush to put the Spirit within a goal. Minnesota Wild prospect Giroux flew into the Kingston zone down the right-wing and attempted to center a pass that was knocked down by a Kingston defenseman right to the trailer Smith. Smith took a shot from in front of the Frontenacs crease that beat Dugas through his five-hole with 9:35 left in regulation to make it 4-3 Kingston.
Just 1:58 later, Cole Perfetti tallied his second goal of the game to tie the game 4-4 with 7:37 remaining in regulation. Giroux won a face-off back to Philadelphia Flyers draft pick Mason Millman at the Kingston point and the Spirit defenseman fired a shot that Dugas stopped with a pad save. Perfetti, who screened Dugas in front of the crease, corralled the rebound and tucked the puck around the downed Frontenacs goaltender for his 27th goal of the season.
Saginaw completed the five-goal comeback victory with just 2.5 seconds left in regulation on Saginaw captain Damien Giroux’s team-leading 29th goal of the season. Perfetti’s shot from the slot was denied by Dugas’ blocker into the Frontenacs corner, where Millman jumped on the loose puck. Millman sent a pass through the top of the Kingston crease to the right face-off circle for Giroux to one-time passed a sliding Dugas for the eventual 5-4 Saginaw victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
1. Cole Perfetti (SAG) 2G, 2A +5
2. Damien Giroux (SAG) GWG, 3A +3
3. Shane Wright (KGN) G, 2A
Top 2020 NHL Draft prospect do battle Sunday, January 24 when Cole Perfetti and the Western Conference-leading Saginaw Spirit travel to take on Marco Rossi and the Eastern Conference-leading Ottawa 67’s for the final meeting of the season. It is a 2:00 p.m. puck drop from TD Place in Ottawa, Ontario.
Perfetti scored with 1:42 left in regulation to lead the Spirit to the 4-3 victory over the 67’s in the first meeting of the season at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.
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.