Peterborough, ONT. – The Saginaw Spirit took back first place in the Western Conference Thursday evening with a 6-2 victory on the road over the Peterborough Petes.
With two points in the game, New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey passed Spirit alum Josh Shalla for fourth in Saginaw Spirit team-history with 214 career points.
Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux had a scoring opportunity on the Spirit’s first shot on goal of the game just over a minute into the first period. Philadelphia Flyers prospect Mason Millman carried the puck into the Peterborough zone and dropped a pass to the Minnesota Wild prospect Giroux at the top of the right face-off circle. Giroux cut towards center ice and let loose a wrist shot from the top of the slot that was fought off by fellow Minnesota Wild prospect Hunter Jones’ glove.
Just three minutes into the opening frame Toronto Maple Leafs second round pick Nick Robertson had a breakaway scoring opportunity for the Petes. Los Angeles Kings signee Akil Thomas sprung the left-winger Robertson with a lead pass through the neutral zone. Robertson flew into the Saginaw zone and attempted to bury a snapshot through Marshall Frappier’s five-hole, but the Spirit netminder was able to squeeze his pads in time to keep the game scoreless.
Spirit all-time games leader Cole Coskey opened the scoring for Saginaw 5:49 into the first frame with his 26th goal of the season. 2020 NHL Draft fourth ranked North American prospect Cole Perfetti drove around the Peterborough net and made a spin move around a Petes defender towards the front of the net. Perfetti fed the New York Islanders draft pick Coskey with a pass as the right-winger drove towards the Petes net. Coskey hammered a one-timer that beat Jones blocker-side to give the Spirit a 1-0 lead. Carolina Hurricanes first round pick Ryan Suzuki was awarded with the secondary assist on the play, which was the centerman’s 12th point in his last six games with Saginaw.
As Saginaw’s third man-power advantage of the first period expired just seconds prior to the end of the first period, Millman nearly gave the Spirit a two-goal lead on an individual effort. The Saginaw defenseman skated through the neutral zone on a full head of stream and split the Peterborough defense with a move at the Petes blueline. Millman fired a shot from the right face-off dot in attempt to catch Jones flatfooted but the Petes goaltender denied the shot with a blocker save to keep it a one-goal Saginaw lead as time expired in the first period.
The Spirit outshot Peterborough 15-11 through 20 minutes of play and took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission.
After Saginaw defenseman D.J. King was called for an interference penalty in the opening minute of the second period, San Jose signee Zach Gallant tied the game for the Petes just 22 seconds into their man-power advantage. Spirit goaltender Marshall Frappier stopped Robertson’s shot from the right circle and a rebound attempt from Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Semyon Der-Arguchintsev in the slot. The puck squirted to Frappiers left and Gallant was able to push the loose puck across the goal-line to tie the game 1-1 just 1:13 into the second frame.
With T-Bone Codd in the penalty box, Peterborough made it two-for-two on the man-power advantage with Toronto Maple Leafs signee Robertson’s 32nd goal of the season. Akil Thomas angled a pass back to Winnipeg Jets prospect Declan Chisholm at the left-point. The Peterborough defenseman sent a pass to the right circle, where Robertson unloaded a one-timer that beat a sliding Frappier to make it 2-1 Petes lead 5:34 into the second period.
After another penalty to King for cross checking, Peterborough nearly made it three-for-three on the power play if not for a desperation save from Saginaw netminder Frappier. Thomas flew into the Saginaw zone down the right-wing on a three-on-two and slid a pass over to Chisholm in the Spirit slot. Chisholm sent a quick pass over to former Detroit Red Wings draft pick Gallant for a one-timer attempt from the left face-off dot. Frappier followed the passes and slid across the crease to deny the Peterborough captain’s one-timer with a pad save to keep the Spirit within reach.
Saginaw’s Coskey was called for a charging penalty just over 12 minutes into the second period to give Peterborough their fourth power play of the period but the Spirit lit-the-lamp to tie the game 2-2. A relentless forecheck supplied by Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker caused a Peterborough defenseman to turn the puck over in the Petes zone. The overage defenseman skated into the Petes slot and lifted a backhand over Jones left shoulder top shelf for his 10th goal of the season with 6:12 left in the middle frame.
The Spirit regained the lead with just 53 seconds left in the second period on Damien Giroux’s team-leading 28th goal of the season. Defenseman D.J. King, who just returned to the Saginaw lineup from injury, fired a shot from the point the went wide of the Peterborough net. The puck took a fortuitous Saginaw Spirit bounce to the right of the net, where the Spirit captain Giroux collected the loose puck. Hunter Jones attempted to get back but the fellow Minnesota Wild draft pick slapped the puck into the open side of the Petes net for a one-goal Saginaw lead.
Saginaw trailed in the shot department 29-24 after 40 minutes of play but the Spirit took a 3-2 advantage into the second intermission.
After a bench minor charged to Saginaw early in the third period, Giroux nearly notched his second of the game on a shorthanded breakaway opportunity. An attempted clear from Saginaw’s Ilya Solovyov was knocked down by a Peterborough defender in the neutral zone, Giroux poked the puck past the Petes player and flew into the offensive zone all alone. The Hanmer, Ontario native attempted to deke to the fore hand and tuck the puck into the net but Jones’ outstretched pad made the save to keep it a one-goal game.
With 4:02 left in regulation Jackson, Michigan native Blade Jenkins provided the insurance tally to give the Spirit a 4-2 lead. The New York Islanders prospect Jenkins pressured Petes netminder Jones behind the Peterborough net, who tried to clear the puck. Coskey kept the puck in the Petes zone and sent a pass over to Jenkins to the left of the crease for an easy tip-in before the Peterborough goaltender was able to get back in position.
In attempt to get back in the game, the Petes pulled Hunter Jones for an extra attacker with just under three minutes left in regulation. Perfetti was able to gain control of the puck and send the puck into the empty Peterborough net from the neutral zone for his 25th of the season.
Saginaw defenseman D.J. Busdeker provided the dagger with 2:18 left in regulation with his second goal of the game. Forward Danil Antropov feathered a pass over to Busdeker at the point and the overage defenseman sniped a wrist shot past Jones, who returned to the game after Perfetti’s goal, to give the Spirit the eventual 6-2 victory.
Saginaw goaltender Marshall Frappier stopped 34 of Peterborough’s 36 shots for the netminder’s 15th victory of the season.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
D.J. Busdeker (SAG) 2G +3Nick Robertson (PBO) G, AMarshall Frappier (SAG) W, 34 SVS
Two OHL Priority Draft first overall picks face-off Friday, January 24 when Ryan Suzuki and the Saginaw Spirit continues their five-game road swing against exceptional status rookie Shane Wright and the Kingston Frontenacs for the first of two regular season meetings of the season. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m. from the Leon’s Centre in Kingston, Ontario.
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.