Sault Ste. Marie, ON. – The Saginaw Spirit defeated the West Division rival Soo Greyhounds in a 7-5 shoot out on the road Wednesday evening en route to their 33rd victory of the season. With the victory, Saginaw pulls within three points of the Western Conference leading Kitchener Rangers.
New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey becomes just the third player in Saginaw Spirit history to scorer 100 career OHL goals.
Fourth ranked North American 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti dished out a career-high five assists in the victory.
New York Islanders signee Bode Wilde buried a powerplay goal in his season debut with the Saginaw Spirit.
The Soo nearly opened the scoring in the opening minute of play after a turnover in the neutral zone by a Saginaw defenseman. Forward Jaromir Pytlik poked the puck off a Spirit stick just outside the Saginaw zone and Zach Trott settled the puck down for a three-on-one rush. Trott slid the puck over to Pytlik on the right-wing, where the Czech centerman patiently looked for a passing lane. Pytlik fired a pass through the slot that 2020 NHL Draft prospect Tye Kartye attempted to one-time into the open side of the Saginaw net, but his shot flew wide to keep the game scoreless early.
The Spirit opened the scoring 7:14 into the opening frame on Carolina Hurricanes draft pick Ryan Suzuki’s 13th goal of the season. Saginaw Spirit all-time games leader Cole Coskey received the puck upon entry in the Soo zone and dropped a pass to the 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti at the left point. Perfetti led Suzuki, who flew down the right-wing, with a cross ice saucer pass and the Saginaw centerman deked Soo goaltender Nick Malik and snapped a shot past the blocker of the Greyhounds back stopper to give the Spirit a 1-0 lead.
New York Islanders prospect Coskey became just the third player in Saginaw Spirit team-history to reach the 100-goal plateau with his 28th goal of the season. Suzuki knocked down the puck along the right-wing boards of the Greyhounds zone and dumped the puck down to Perfetti in the Soo corner. The Whitby, Ontario native made a spin around move on a Soo defender to create space and slid a pass to the front of the net. The Zion, Illinois native Coskey one-timed the puck passed a sliding Malik to give Saginaw the 2-0 advantage.
Rookie forward Tanner Dickinson responded for the Greyhounds with 4:39 left in the first intermission with his sixth goal of the season. Joe Carroll controlled the puck in the right corner of the Saginaw zone and moved towards the Spirit slot. Saginaw goaltender Marshall Frappier poke-checked the puck off Carroll’s stick and it bounced around in front of the Spirit net. The 2020 NHL Draft prospect Dickinson jumped on the loose puck and shot the puck through a screen past Frappier to cut the Saginaw lead down to one-goal.
The Greyhounds tied the game with just 1:55 remaining in the opening frame on 2020 NHL Draft prospect Rory Kerins’ team-leading 27th goal of the season. The Greyhounds hit the Saginaw zone on the three-on-two rush and Montreal Canadiens prospect Jacob LeGuerrier dropped the puck to the trailer Kerins at the Saginaw point. Kerins floated down to the top of the left circle and fired a wrist shot that just got through Frappier for the 2-2 tie.
The teams went into the first intermission tied 2-2 after the Spirit outshot the Greyhounds, 11-9.
After an interference penalty charged to Soo forward Cole MacKay, New York Islanders second round pick Bode Wilde, who was return to the Spirit lineup after he played 20 games with the Islanders AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers, converted on the man-power advantage for his first goal of the season. Ryan Suzuki won an offensive zone face-off back to Perfetti, who backed up towards the right-wing circle and floated a pass to Wilde at the center-point. The Plymouth, Michigan native Wilde hammered a one-timer through Malik’s five-hole for the 3-2 Spirit lead 5:22 into the second period.
The Greyhounds answered just 1:32 later to tie the game 3-3 on Robert Calisti’s 15th goal of the season. A wrist shot from Rory Kerins from the top of the left circle that flew wide of the Saginaw net. The puck took a hard bounce off the boards to the left of the Saginaw net, where Calisti took a slapshot that beat Frappier’s glove.
With overage defenseman Riley Webb in the penalty box for elbowing, the Soo took the lead with 3:33 left in the second period on Kerins second goal of the game. Overager Billy Constantinou’s shot rebounded left off Frappier and Kerins fired the rebound short side for the 4-3 Greyhounds lead.
Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker pulled the Spirit back even with his 15th goal of the season with just 1:47 left in the second period. Cole Perfetti pulled up after he entered the Soo zone and backhanded a cross ice saucer pass to Busdeker, who flew down the right-wing. Busdeker took a quick wrist shot from the right face-off dot that beat Malik stick side to make it a 4-4 game.
Saginaw regained the lead just 43 seconds into the third frame on Coskey’s second goal of the contest off a three-on-two rush with a tick-tack-toe passing play. Suzuki received a long up-ice pass from Wilde at the Soo blueline and passed the puck over to Perfetti at the left circle. The Saginaw forward Perfetti hit Coskey, who trailed the play at the right circle with a cross ice pass. Coskey one-timed the puck into the open right-side of the net for the 5-4 Saginaw advantage.
The Greyhounds again answered just over three minutes later with Cole MacKay’s 24th goal of the season to tie the game, 5-5. A Saginaw forward turned the puck over to MacKay in the Greyhounds zone and the Soo right-winger flew down the ice on a breakaway. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native MacKay fought off a Spirit backcheck and buried a wrist shot past Frappier with 16:11 left in regulation.
With just 5:34 left in regulation, Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux provided what proved to be the game-winner on his team-leading 33rd goal of the season. Busdeker’s shot from the top of the Soo slot missed the net, but Giroux collected the puck and skated around the back of the net. The Hanmer, Ontario native Giroux circled the net and roofed a backhand shot top-shelf to give Saginaw a 6-5 lead.
D.J. Busdeker was awarded a goal with 57 seconds left in regulation after he was hauled down on a breakaway with the Soo net empty for his second of the game and the eventual 7-5 Saginaw Spirit victory.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
Cole Perfetti (SAG) 5A +3Rory Kerins (SAG) 2G, A -1Cole Coskey (SAG) 2G, A +4
The Spirit return home to Saginaw, Michigan on Friday, February 14 to host the in-state rival Flint Firebirds to kick off Ice Blast Weekend at The Dow Event Center. There is a 7:05 p.m. puck drop for the seventh installment in this season’s Coors Light I-75 Divide Rivalry. The Spirit hold a 4-2-0-0 record through the six matchups against the West Division rival Firebirds this season.
As a part of Ice Blast Weekend, Friday, February 14 marks the return of former Saginaw Spirit captain Paul ‘Biz Nasty’ Bissonnette to The Dow Event Center. The former NHLer and co-host of popular Barstool Podcast “Spittin’ Chiclets” will be signing autographs for fans in the Budweiser Red Room prior to the game against the Firebirds. Buzz and Woody from Toy Story will also be making an appearance in the Budweiser Red Room prior to puck drop against the Firebirds.
Ice Blast Weekend continues Saturday, February 15 when the Saginaw Spirit host the Kitchener Rangers for Credit Union Night at The Dow. Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Kronwall will be signing autographs in the Budweiser Red Room between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m.
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.