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Spirit Drop Season Opener in Overtime

September 21, 2019 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Saginaw Spirit News Release

Kitchener, ON - The Saginaw Spirit dropped a 5-4 decision in overtime against the Kitchener Rangers on the road to open the 2019-20 season.  The Spirit collect a point in the standings with the overtime loss.

Former Saginaw Spirit Ryan Stepien collected the game-winning goal in overtime for the Rangers.

2019 Saginaw Spirit Import Draft first round pick Ilya Solovyov collected two assists in his first career Ontario Hockey League (OHL) game.

Former Guelph Storm Liam Hawel contributed three assists in his first game with the Kitchener Rangers.

Midway through the first period overager Reilly Webb nearly gave the Spirit the lead on a shot from the point.  The former Detroit Red Wings prospect's wrist shot beat Kitchener's goaltender Jacob Ingham but clanked off the post.

The Spirit struck first 12:30 into the first period with D.J. King's first goal as a Saginaw Spirit.  The former Hamilton Bulldog collected a rebound in front of the net and jammed the puck into the net for a one-goal Spirit lead.

Kitchener tied the game just over two minutes later with a goal by Jonathan Yantsis.  Former Guelph Storm center Liam Hawel set up Yantsis on the goal on a pass from the right circle.

In the final minute of the first intermission New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins put the Spirit back on top.  2020 NHL Draft top-prospect Cole Perfetti sent a drop pass to Jacob Goldowski, who fired a pass to Jenkins in the slot.  The Jackson, Michigan native deked to the backhand and slid the puck past Ingham for the goal.

Saginaw took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission after they doubled up Kitchener, 14-7 in the shot department.

Kitchener evened the score early in the second period with Yantsis' second goal of the game.  Yantsis sniped a wrist shot from the right face-off circle over Saginaw goaltender Tristan Lennox's shoulder for the goal.

The Markham, Ontario native Yantsis notched 50 goals in 68 games for the Rangers last season.

After Danny Katic was called for a hooking minor D.J. Busdeker again gave Saginaw the lead with a shorthanded goal with just over nine minutes left in the second period.

Saginaw Spirit Import Draft first round pick Ilya Solovyov dropped a pass to the Dexter, Michigan native Busdeker, who sniped a shot from the right-center hashmarks top shelf for the goal.

The Spirit made it a two-goal game late in the second frame with a power play goal by New York Islanders prospect Cole Coskey.  Solovyov slid a pass to Coskey at the left circle and Coskey fired a wrist shot through traffic in front for the goal.

Spirit captain Damien Giroux nearly put Saginaw up three goals early in the third period on the power play.  The Minnesota Wild prospect redirected a pass from Coskey in front of the crease off the crossbar and the Rangers netminder covered the puck up.

Danny Katic almost added to the Spirit lead about eight minutes into the final period of play on a great individual effort.  Katic stickhandled around a couple Kitchener defenders and made a deke to the forehand that Ingham just stopped with an outstretched pad.

Kitchener once again made it a one-goal game with a goal by Reid Valade.  After a shot from the point that rebounded off Lennox's pad in front of the crease, Valade collected the puck a sent the puck into the back of the Spirit net.

The Rangers broke even with 5:33 left in regulation with a goal by Francesco Pinelli on a scramble in front of the net.  Arizona Coyotes prospect Axel Bergkvist's slap shot rebounded to Pinelli who slid the puck into the open side of the Spirit net.

Regulation ended in a 4-4 tie, despite a 41-35 shot advantage for Saginaw.

Lennox made an incredible save early in overtime on Kitchener's Reid Valade.  The Rangers left-winger skated into the Saginaw zone on a breakaway and tried a wrist shot that the Saginaw goaltender deflected with his glove.

Former Saginaw Spirit Ryan Stepien collected the game-winner 4:10 into the extra frame.  Valade sent a pass to an open Stepien to the left of the Spirit crease for the one-time tally.

Applebee's Three Stars of the Game:

Ryan Stepien (KIT) G, +2

Ilya Solovyov (SAG) 2A, +2

Liam Hawel (KIT) 3A, +3

The Spirit takes on their in-state rival, Flint Firebirds Saturday, September 20 for their home opener.  Puck drop for the first installment of this season's I-75 Divide Rivalry is at 7:05 p.m. from The Dow Event Center.

Fans are encouraged to arrive early to witness the 2019 West Division Championship banner unveiling prior to the game.  The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a mini 2019 West Division Championship banner courtesy of HAP.

Fans can follow all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and with the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino and Art Lewis on the call.  "Countdown to Face-off" begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop for all your pregame coverage.

To purchase tickets to any Spirit home game call (989) 497-7747, visit, or visit the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.

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