Spirit Seize Series Lead in Western Conference Finals
Saginaw, MI - The Saginaw Spirit take a 1-0 Western Conference Championship series lead in Friday's 7-2 Game One victory over the Guelph Storm in front of 4,218 fans at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.
Rookie Cole Perfetti was given first-star honors after a four-point Game One effort. Perfetti scored the game-winner for the fourth time this post-season.
The Perfetti, Cole Coskey and Brady Gilmour line combined for 10 points to lead the Spirit to the Game One victory.
Game Two of the Western Conference Finals is set for 7:05 p.m. Saturday, April 20 at The Dow Event Center.
The Storm took the lead just 40 seconds into play on the first shot of the series. Chicago Blackhawks signee MacKenzie Entwistle made a nice move out of the Saginaw corner and sent a pass into the slot for the Guelph captain Isaac Ratcliffe to one-time into the goal for his sixth of this year's playoffs.
Ratcliffe, a 2017 second round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers, led the Storm with 50 goals in the regular season.
Saginaw tied the game just over four minutes later with Jackson, Michigan native Blade Jenkins' fifth goal of the post-season. Overager Albert Michnac used his speed around the Guelph net and sent a pass to Jenkins in the slot. The New York Islanders prospect one-timed the puck past Popovich for the goal.
Overage defenseman Reagan O'Grady nearly gave the Spirit the lead in the final few minutes of the first period. Edmonton Oilers second-rounder Ryan McLeod squeezed a pass through a couple defenders to O'Grady, who just missed the net with the one-timer.
The teams were tied after the first 20 minutes of play but Saginaw led in the shot department, 10-8.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Brady Gilmour gave the Spirit their first lead of the series 2:55 into the second period. Right-winger Cole Coskey forced a turnover in the neutral zone and sent a pass over to Gilmour into the Guelph zone. The Spirit center took a wrist shot from the top of the circle that beat Popovich blocker-side.
Just under four minutes after the Gilmour goal, Saginaw first round pick Cole Perfetti made it a two-goal Spirit lead. Guelph turned the puck over in front of their net and the Saginaw rookie sniped a shot over the Storm net-minders glove.
The Storm got the goal back 8:57 into the second period on the man-power advantage. Los Angeles Kings prospect Sean Durzi scored with a wrist shot through a screen for the second of the post-season.
Saginaw regained the two-goal spread 12:44 into the second period with Coskey's second goal of this season's playoffs. Gilmour sent a pass toward the crease that rebounded off the Guelph goaltender in the slot. Coskey sent home the loose puck to make it a 4-2 Saginaw Spirit lead.
Saginaw left-winger Perfetti notched his second goal of the game with just 4:29 left in the second period of play. The Whitby, Ontario native sent a wrist shot from the point that found the back of the net for his fifth goal of the post-season.
Perfetti, the 2018 fifth overall pick by the Saginaw Spirit, scored two goals and two assists in the second period and the rookie had a plus/minus of plus-five in the middle frame.
With just 26 seconds left in the second frame, Coskey scored his second of the game to give the Spirit a four-goal lead. Detroit Red Wings prospect Reilly Webb's shot from the right-point rebounded off Popovich right to Coskey to the left of the net. The Saginaw right-winger hammered home the puck to make it 6-2 after 40 minutes of play.
Rookie defenseman Mason Millman scored Saginaw's seventh goal of the game 7:28 into the third period. Millman's wrist shot from the point redirected off a Guelph player into the top-shelf for his second goal of the post-season.
Saginaw outshot Guelph, 30-28 in the Spirit's 7-2 victory in Game One.
Applebee's Three Stars of the Game:
Cole Perfetti (SAG) 2G, 2A +5
Cole Coskey (SAG) 2G, A +4
Brady Gilmour (SAG) G, 2A +5
The Saginaw Spirit are back in action Saturday, April 20 for Game Two of the Western Conference Finals against the Guelph Storm. Puck drop from the Wendler Arena at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan begins at 7:05 p.m.
Tickets for Game Two are on sale now on saginawspirit.com, ticketmaster.com, and at the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street in Saginaw.
Watch live on OHLLive.com or listen live on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and fmtalk1005.com with the voice of the Saginaw Spirit Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call. "Countdown to Faceoff" with host Domenic Papa starts 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
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Ontario Hockey League Stories from April 18, 2019
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