Monday, January 09, 2006

Spirit lose lead, game to Guelph

The Saginaw Spirit let a two goal lead slip away against Western Conference rivals Guelph Sunday, in a 4-3 road loss. The Storm scored three goals in four minutes in the third period, but Saginaw tied the game in the third before Guelph put the lead out of reach.

Saginaw remains two points off the OHL West Division lead, as Plymouth was idle. The Spirit remain in sixth place in the OHL Western Conference.

"Overall, we played some very solid hockey this weekend," said Spirit head coach and general manager Bob Mancini. "But we had some critical mistakes that cost us points. We're learning that you have to player nearly perfect hockey down the stretch to succeed on a consistent basis."

Saginaw opened scoring before the two-minute mark of the first period, when forward Patrick Asselin hit the net on the power play from Patrick McNeill and Ryan McDonough. Saginaw upped their lead to 2-0 just past the five-minute mark of the second period, when forward Michal Birner (above left) scored from McDonough and Jesse Gimblett.

Guelph broke the shutout at 8:35 of the second, when overage forward Ryan Callahan scored at even-strength. Guelph scored twice more in the next for minutes, from Jason Pitton and Andy Hyvarinen to overtake the Spirit, 3-2.

Saginaw tied the game 3-3 at the four minute mark of the third, when Spirit captain McNeill scored on the power play from McDonough. Saginaw held the tie for the next 13 minutes, but Guelph's Matt D'Agostini broke the tie as a power play expired to give the Storm a 4-3 lead. Saginaw pulled goalie Francois Thuot for the final 45 seconds of the game, but was unable to convert to force overtime.

Thuot had 24 saves in the contest.

The loss takes Saginaw's record to 21-17-0-0 on the season. The Spirit resume action Wednesday in Plymouth against the Whalers. It's the first of seven remaining games between the Spirit and the Whalers this season. Saginaw returns to home ice Saturday to face the Ottawa 67's.

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