A late power play goal proved to be the difference and it put the Soo Greyhounds in a deep hole.
A too many men penalty in the third period led to the game-winning goal for the Saginaw Spirit in a 7-5 Ontario Hockey League playoff win over the Greyhounds at the GFL Memorial Gardens on Tuesday night.
In the process, the win gives the Spirit a commanding 3-0 lead in their Western Conference semifinal series with a chance to advance on Thursday night.
Following an injury to forward Morgan Frost earlier in the period, the Greyhounds were forced to shuffle their lines and the changes meant a winger changing sides. That led to a pair of players jumping onto the ice on a line change and the Greyhounds getting hit with the bench minor.
Saginaw rookie Cole Perfetti proceeded to get the puck in the left faceoff circle and beat Matthew Villalta to give Saginaw a 6-5 lead at the time en route to the win.
“It’s a critical mistake and unfortunately it cost us,” said Greyhounds coach John Dean. “It’s tough to swallow.”
The Greyhounds jumped out to a 3-0 lead early, which included a pair of goals in the opening 2:15 of the game and led 3-0 before the game was 10 minutes old.
“We came out hungry and that’s the way we have to play when our backs are against the wall,” Dean said. “Now we’re going to have to do it period by period for the next four games.”
“We knew when it was 3-0, we couldn’t let it get to four, we had to make it 3-1,” Saginaw coach Chris Lazary said. “We got a chance to regroup in the intermission and found a way to come back and play well.”
“We knew they were going to have a push (to start the game) and they did, they were all over us and we had no answer,” Lazary said. “We found a goal, got a reset (the 3-1 goal and the intermission).”
Trailing by scores of 3-1 and 4-2, the Spirit came all the way back in the second period and took a 5-4 lead thanks to three goals in a span of just under two minutes midway through the period.
The teams would go into the third period tied after Joe Carroll knotted the game at five 1:03 after the Spirit took the lead on a goal by Camaryn Baber.
“With the exception of 10 minutes in the second period, the second half of the second period we took it to them again,” Dean said. “And in the third period, up until the penalty, I never felt like we were in danger.”
“(The Greyhounds) played a hell of a game,” Lazary said. “They were ready to go. They played a great game but just didn’t get any bounces.”
Carroll finished the night with a pair of goals for the Greyhounds while Barrett Hayton had a goal and two assists.
Frost and Jaromir Pytlik had the other Saul goals.
Villalta finished the night with 19 saves.
Owen Tippett had a goal and two assists for Saginaw.
Brady Gilmour had a goal and an assist while D.J. Busdeker, Cole Coskey, and Bode Wilde also scored.
Spirit goaltender Ivan Prosvetov stopped 34 shots.
Frost left the game late after what appeared to be a shoulder injury on a faceoff deep in the Greyhounds zone. The veteran forward went to the Greyhounds dressing room.
Despite returning, the Philadelphia Flyers prospect remained in pain.
Details on the injury were limited following the game.
Dean said Frost left with an upper-body injury, but further details were limited.
On the injury front for the Spirit, Lazary said overage defenceman Reagan O’Grady, who was injured in game one in Saginaw remains out day to day.
“We’ll evaluate him tomorrow but he’s day by day,” Lazary said. “He’s 50-50 for game four.”
For the Greyhounds, the message heading into game four on Thursday night might be cliché but it’s a simple one.
“The message now is 20 minutes at a time,” Dean said.
Puck drop for game four is 7:07 p.m. at the GFL Memorial Gardens.
In other action around the OHL on Tuesday night, the Oshawa Generals avoided falling into a 3-0 hole thanks to a 4-1 win over the Niagara IceDogs in Oshawa. The Generals broke a 1-1 tie with three goals in the final period. Serron Noel had a pair of goals for the Generals. Oshawa goaltender.
In Sudbury, the Ottawa 67’s took a 3-0 series lead on the Sudbury Wolves thanks to an 8-5 win. Lucas Chiodo and Sasha Chmelevski had a goal and two assists each for the 67’s. Kyle Maksimovich added a pair of goals for the 67’s while Hudson Wilson assisted on three goals. Owen Robinson assisted on three goals for the Wolves.
On Monday night, the London Knights took a commanding 3-0 series lead on the Guelph Storm with a 7-4 win in Guelph. Evan Bouchard led the way offensively with two goals and two assists while Adam Boqvist and Liam Foudy chipped in with a goal and an assist each. Dmitri Samorukov scored a pair of goals for Guelph.