Saginaw, MI. – The Saginaw Spirit dropped their second straight game in a 5-2 defeat against the Sudbury Wolves in front of 3,672 fans for the 13th annual Pink Out Night at The Dow Event Center Friday evening.
The Sudbury Wolves got on the board just 1:25 into the first period on center Owen Gilhula’s sixth goal of the season on a three-on-two rush. Carolina Hurricanes prospect Blake Murray slid a pass over for a Gilhula one-timer past the sliding Saginaw Spirit goaltender Marshall Frappier.
The Wolves made it 2-0 just 63 seconds later with Landon McCallum’s first career Ontario Hockey League (OHL) goal on a two-on-one rush. Defenseman Nathan Ribau sent a shot from the top of the left circle that rebounded right to McCallum for the open net goal.
Less than four minutes later Sudbury took a three-goal lead on a backdoor pass on a three-on-two rush.
The OHL’s leading scorer Quinton Byfield made a nice pass in close to find overager Shane Bulitka to the left of the net. Bulitka was able to tip the puck into the open net for his eighth goal of the season.
Forward Camaryn Baber cut into the Sudbury lead 10:05 into the first period with his first goal of the season.
Rookie Josh Bloom dropped a pass to Jake Goldowski at the top of the left circle, Goldowski found Baber at the top of the slot. The Spirit center fired a snapshot top-shelf passed Wolves goaltender Christian Purboo for the goal.
Sudbury regained the three-goal lead with six minutes left in the first period. Defenseman Peter Stratis’ shot from the point hit Wolves center Nick DeGrazia in front of the net. DeGrazia corralled the put and shot a backhand past Frappier’s glove for his first goal of the season.
Saginaw outshot Sudbury, 12-10 in the first period but trailed the Wolves, 4-1.
Midway through the second period New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey nearly cut into the Sudbury lead. 2020 NHL Draft top-prospect Cole Perfetti stole the puck from a Sudbury defenseman but lost the puck in the slot. Coskey gained possession of the puck and flipped a shot that was stopped by Purboo.
Perfetti nearly set up Spirit captain Damien Giroux for a goal just minutes later. The Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti made a nice cut behind the net toward the slot and slid a pass over to Giroux to the right of the crease. The Minnesota Wild prospect had an open net but the puck just hopped over his stick into the corner.
Saginaw cut into the Sudbury lead 2:45 into the final frame with overager Reilly Webb’s first goal of the season.
Perfetti stickhandled around a Wolves defender at the point and flipped a pass over to Webb at the right point. The former Detroit Red Wings draft pick skated down to the top of the right circle and fired a wrist shot past Purboo to make it a 4-2 game.
Saginaw Spirit forward Perfetti continued to be dangerous and nearly scored midway through the third period. After a fortuitous bounce off the glass Perfetti rifled a shot from the left circle that Purboo denied with his right shoulder.
With Chase Stillman in the penalty box on a slashing call, the Wolves cashed in on a shorthanded opportunity to regain the three-goal lead. Byfield found the trailing defenseman Liam Ross on a nice cross-ice pass where Ross sent a wrist shot past Frappier for the eventual 5-2 victory.
The Spirit outshot the Wolves, 15-8 in the final two periods but were unable to muster a comeback.
Saginaw has struggled to convert on the man-power advantage after they went zero-for-nine in the past two games on the power play.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
Nick DeGrazia (SBY) G, AQuinton Byfield (SBY) 2A +2Reilly Webb (SAG) G +1
West Division foes collide at The Dow Event Center on Sunday, October 27 where the Western Conference leading Saginaw Spirit will look to get back on track against the archrival Soo Greyhounds. Puck drop is at 5:30 p.m. for the third of eight meetings this season.
Sunday marks the return of Robotics Night at The Dow Event Center presented by Nexteer. Fans are encouraged to bring their skates and stay for a post-game skate with the Saginaw Spirit players. The Spirit will be selling $6 Covenant Kids tickets for Sunday’s game against the Greyhounds.
Fans can catch all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and www.fmtalk1005.com with Art Lewis and the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” 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.