The Saginaw Spirit (1-5-1-0) blew a 2-0 lead, surrendering 3-unanswered goals in a 3-2 loss to the Kitchener Rangers, an organization where Spirit head coach Troy Smith had spent 10 seasons behind the bench (2 as head coach, and 8 as an associate head coach) while the Spirit suffered its fourth straight loss in front of a crowd of 2,180 at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw, MI tonight.
Special teams continue to plague the Spirit, who failed to convert on any of its 5 power play chances, including a 4-minute power play in the final 5-minutes and 50-seconds of the game when Kitchener defenseman Logan Stanley (a first round pick, 18th overall, of the Winnipeg Jets in the 2016 NHL draft) was whistled for a 2-minute holding penalty and given an additional 2-minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct with the game tied at 2-goals apiece.
Later in the third, shortly after the Stanley penalty had expired, Spirit defenseman Hayden Davis was caught backing into his own zone after a mid-ice turnover, as Kitchener captain Connor Bunnaman (a fourth round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2016 NHL draft) banged home his second goal (of 2 goals on the night) on a rebound shot with assists from Riley Damiani and Stanley for a 3-2 Rangers lead at 18:22 of the third period.
After a scoreless opening period, veteran Spirit forward Brady Gilmour (a seventh round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2017 NHL draft) gave the Spirit a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the season with an assist coming from Kyle Bollers at 6:10 of the second period.
Later in the second period Gilmour (2) lit the lamp again with his second goal of the night, this one from rookie forward Ryan Stepien, extending the Spirit lead to 2-0 at 14:23 of the second period, however, that would be the end of the Saginaw offense tonight.
Just 1-minute and 34-seconds following Gilmour's second goal, Bunnaman (2) was untouched and beat Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier (a fourth round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2016 NHL draft) with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle with assists coming from Rickard Hugg and Jake Henderson at 15:57 of the second period, cutting into the Spirit lead (2-1) heading into the second intermission.
With momentum visably shifting away from the Spirit, the Rangers would knot the game at 2-goals apiece early in the third period when forward Adam Mascherin picked a Spirit defender's pocket in the Kitchener zone, then out-skated him the length of the ice, before finding Joseph Gareffa (5) who banged home his fifth goal of the season at 8:02 of the third period.
Kitchener goal tender Luke Richardson stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced in goal for the Rangers tonight, while Cormier turned away 32 of the 35 shots he saw in goal for the Spirit.
The Spirit will look to finish out the week by getting back into the win column with a late afternoon Sunday home visit from the Mississauga Steelheads at 5:30 pm at the Dow Event Center tomorrow.