Saginaw Spirit

Guo Nets First in Saginaw, Spirit Fall to Battalion

February 23, 2024 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
Saginaw Spirit News Release

Saginaw Spirit's James Guo and North Bay Battalion's Ethan Procyszyn and Dom DiVincentiis on game night
Saginaw Spirit's James Guo and North Bay Battalion's Ethan Procyszyn and Dom DiVincentiis on game night
(Saginaw Spirit, Credit: Eric Young)

Saginaw, Mich. - The Saginaw Spirit (40-15-0-1) fell in regulation to the North Bay Battalion (28-18-6-2) by a score of 6-3 on Friday night. Sandis Vilmanis headlined with a hat-trick, and Anthony Romani continued strong season with his 45th goal of the year. James Guo scored his first goal of the season for Saginaw, Nolan Lalonde started in goal stopping 26 of 32 shots, while North Bay went with Dom DiVincentiis whose 34 saves on 37 shots, plus an assist, let the Battalion to victory.

Following Saginaw's Bandon Saad jersey retirement ceremony, fans experienced 13:27 of no whistle hockey until the Battalion notched the first tally. Following a clear by the Saginaw defense, North Bay goaltender Dom DiVincentiis gathered the puck and laced a pass to the Saginaw blueline, finding Liam Arnsby. A quick pass to his left slide to the stick of Sandis Vilmanis who placed a shot on net. The puck found a spot through the legs of Saginaw goaltender Nolan Lalonde and slipped past the goal line for Vilmanis's 25th of the season and setting a 1-0 North Bay lead.

Saginaw tied the game up at 17:14 into the first. After receiving a pass in the left corner by Joey Willis, Spirit forward Sebastien Gervais looped behind the North Bay net looking for an opening. After passing the goal line extended, Gervais turned and shot the puck toward the goal, pin balling off multiple skaters until slipping past the right arm of Battalion goaltender Dom DiVincentiis and in for a goal. Gervais's eighth of the season tied the game up at 1-1.

The game only stayed tied for eight seconds after the ensuing faceoff. Saginaw won the faceoff, but Battalion center Brice Cooke intercepted the puck and began moving into the zone. An inside-out move around the Saginaw defense opened a shooting lane that Cooke took. The puck slipped past the right leg of Lalonde and into the net for Cooke's 11th of the season, putting North Bay again up by one.

At the end of the first period, North Bay led 2-1 and outshot the Spirit 13 to 11 in the opening period.

Saginaw opened the period with back-to-back powerplays after penalties to North Bay's Bronson Ride and Liam Arnsby. The Spirit were unable to capitalize on either extra skater advantage but keep the pressure on until their next goal.

At 16:07, Alex Christopoulos received a pass and advanced the puck up the ice finding Matyas Sapovaliv. The Czech center entered the zone flanked by Joey Willis to set up on a two-on-one. Sapovaliv placed a saucer pass just over the North Bay defender, falling to the ice in time for Willis to slap the biscuit past DiVincentiis for his 13th of the season and tying the game at two.

The Battalion, again, responded quickly. Just 49 seconds later, Owen Van Steensel controlled the puck in the Saginaw zone and dropped a pass near the top circle. Paul Christopoulos picked up the pass and looked across the ice seeing Anthony Romani. A laser guided pass from Christopoulos, and a quick one-time slapshot past Lalonde, secured Romain's 45th goal of the season and let the Battalion back up on a one goal lead.

After a set of offsetting penalties, North Bay's Tnias Mathurin was assessed a minor for tripping Josh Bloom at the blue line, setting up Saginaw's third powerplay of the period. Late into the period, Paul Christopoulos found Justin Ertel slashing up ice and hit him with a pass. Ertel controlled the pass, closed in on Lalonde, and made a quick forehand-backhand move to slide home his 21st of the season and third shorthanded goal of the year, putting North Bay up 4-2.

At the conclusion of the second period, North Bay led 4-2 while being outshot in the second 12 to 9, and the game 23 to 22.

North Bay continued to build their lead with a goal at 9:51 into the third period. Saginaw attempted to clear the puck out of their own zone, but were interrupted by Anthony Romaini pinning the puck against the boards. The Battalion right wing slipped the puck to Justin Ertel who received the pass and placed a shot on net. Nolan Lalonde turned aside Ertel's shot, directly into the path of Sandis Vilmanis who slapped home the puck for his 26th of the season and second of the game.

Saginaw chimed back at 14:23 into the third on a goal from James Guo. Lincoln Moore began the play by receiving a pass, slashing up the left boards, and sending a shot on goal. DiVincentiis confidently brushed the puck to the corner where it was picked up by Owen Beck. Beck controlled the puck and passed the puck up through the zone, to Guo at the blueline. The Saginaw defensemen took the pass, set his feet, and let loose a shot that sailed through the net front traffic for his first goal of the season and getting Saginaw back to within two.

Again, North Bay responded quickly. Sandis Vilmanis completed the hat trick late in period three to set the 6-3 final score.

This loss dropped the Saginaw Spirit to (40-15-0-1) and raised the North Bay Battalion to (29-18-6-2)

Saginaw's next game is on Saturday, February 24th to face the Brantford Bulldogs on First Responders night in the final game of the Spirit's weekend homestand.

Images from this story

Saginaw Spirit's James Guo and North Bay Battalion's Ethan Procyszyn and Dom DiVincentiis on game night
Saginaw Spirit's James Guo and North Bay Battalion's Ethan Procyszyn and Dom DiVincentiis on game night

(Eric Young)

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