The Saginaw Spirit gave up 4 second-period goals, falling to the Plymouth Whalers 5-1 in front of 2,124 fans at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw Wednesday evening.
The Spirit (23-25-2-1) continue their hold on the eighth-and-final playoff spot in the OHL's western conference with 49 points. The Whalers (currently the last place team in the western conference) improve to (18-29-2-2) for a total of 40 points.
With 17 games remaining in the 2015 season the Whalers still have an outside chance to make the playoffs; as they continue to battle Sarnia (54), Saginaw (49), and Windsor (44) in the 4-team race for the last-2 western conference playoff spots.
Following a scoreless opening period, the Whalers jumped out to a 3-0 second-period lead on goals by Connor Chatham, Connor Sills, and a power play goal by Victor Crus Rydeberg.
The Spirit answered with a power play goal of their own late in the second period. Saginaw forward, Mitchell Stephens cut the Whaler lead to 3-1 when he notched his eighteenth goal of the season after back-to-back Plymouth penalties (Gianluca Curcuruto, hooking at 14:09) and (former Spirit defenseman Sean Callahan, cross checking at 14:56) gave the Spirit a 5-on-3 advantage.
Plymouth left wing Sonny Milano showed why the Dallas Stars selected him number 16 overall in the 2014 NHL draft when he beat Spirit goalie David Ovsjannikov to extend the Whalers lead to 4-1 with just under 2-minutes to play in the second. Milano further proved why he was the best player on the ice, setting up Will Bitten with a 'highlight-reel' assist just 2:10 into the final period.
The Spirit have two more home games before heading back out on the road Monday. The annual Pride 'Winter Ice Blast' is set for Friday and Saturday this weekend. Activities at the Mid-Michigan Childrens Museum will kickoff Friday February, 13 from 10:00-5:00 pm and wrap up with live music and drink specials in the heated beer tent as the Spirit host the Soo Greyhounds at the Dow Event Center in the evening. Pride Ice Blast weekend continues Saturday morning with more activities at the Mid-Michigan Childrens Museum again from 10:00-5:00 pm, followed by Skating and Sledding at Historic Hoyt Park from 12:00-4:00 pm. The fun continues throughout Saturday afternoon at the Saginaw Childrens Zoo at Celebration Square. The Spirit will host the Barrie Colts Saturday evening at 7:11 pm with more live music and drink specials inside the heated beer tent Saturday night.