By Carl Chimenti
The Saginaw Spirit (16-6-1-0) scored two power-play goals in the second period to break open a tightly contested game and beat the Sarnia Sting (12-7-3-1) 4-1 Friday night in front of a large crowd of 3,190, at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
It was the first regulation loss for Sarnia since a 6-2 defeat to the Owen Sound Attack on November 9th, which snapped a six-game unbeaten streak. Sarnia had not lost on home ice in regulation since suffering a 4-1 loss against the Flint Firebirds on October 19.
It was a defensive battle in the first period with Saginaw scoring the only goal as Michael Misa lit the lamp at 12:07. Captain Nolan Dillingham returned to the line-up for his third game of the season due to injuries, but the Sting were still missing a few injured players including Chandler Romeo (Ottawa Senators), Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins), Nolan Burke (Nashville Predators) and Joshua Hoover. Ethan Ritchie was also absent, serving his first- of a two-game league suspension.
The goal post played a big factor in the period as Saginaw rang iron three times and Sarnia once during their second opportunity with the man-advantage. The Sting out-shot the Spirit 6-3.
In the second period, Doucette tied the game at 10:01 walking in on goal after receiving a pass from Marko Sikic and buried his fourth goal of the season and second in the last two games. Both Sikic and Easton Wainwright were credited with the assists.
Saginaw re-captured the lead after Sarnia fell into some penalty trouble which led to a 5 on 3 Spirit advantage and they capitalized on both ends. Zayne Parekh scored with the two-man-advantage at 15:58 and Pavel Mintyukov scored on the back-end of that power-play at 18:38. In the wanning seconds of the middle period Sasha Pastujov was denied a great scoring chance, as Oke made a terrific glove save to end the period. Sarnia out-shot Saginaw 13-10.
Saginaw scored the only goal in the final stanza on an empty net marker from Dean Loukus at 19:10.
Pavel Mintyukov (Anaheim Ducks) and Michael Misa both had a goal and an assist for Saginaw and Matyas Sapovaliv added two assists.
Ben Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) turned aside 18 of 21 shots as Sarnia out-shot Saginaw 27-22.
Doucette was selected as the third star, Andrew Oke stopped 26 of 27 shots for the Spirit and was named second star and Misa, the first star.