Eleven goals, two hat tricks and a frantic finish saw the Saginaw Spirit hang on to defeat the London Knights 6-5 in Saginaw on Saturday night.
The Spirit victory put an end to London’s five-game winning streak and moved Saginaw into sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.
Connor McMichael of the Knights and Cole Coskey of the Spirit each had three-goal performances.
Liam Foudy assisted on two of the three McMichael goals and Ryan Merkley added a goal and an assist. Merkley scored to get London to within a goal with 1:07 remaining just after the Spirit had managed to kill of a 6-on-3 power play for the Knights. London created opportunities to score inside the final minute but Saginaw held on.
Cole Coskey scored two first period goals to push the Spirit out front 2-0. His first came on the power play at the 11:30 mark and then Coskey scored again for Saginaw inside the final minute of the first as he picked off a puck and wristed it past Dylan Myskiw in the London net. That goal moved the overage forward into third place in all-time Spirit goal scoring.
The Knights came out and quickly cut into the lead as the second period got underway. London went to a power play and 11 seconds into it, Connor McMichael took a pass from Ryan Merkley and wired a shot into the Saginaw net past Tristan Lennox.
Billy Moskal tied the game mid-way through the middle period when he got his stick on a Bryce Montgomery rebound and poked it in to make it 2-2.
Just 30 seconds later Coskey completed the hat trick by popping home a puck that was centred from behind the Knight net and Saginaw led again.
Before the horn sounded to end the middle period, McMichael struck again. He raced down the ice 2-on-1 with Liam Foudy, got a pass in the slot and shot high over Lennox and the teams went to the 3rd period tied 3-3.
McMichael finished his fourth hat trick of the season with a goal that saw the Capitals first-rounder knocked down to his stomach where he somehow got the puck into the net.
That goal gave the Knights their first and only lead.
Cole Perfetti tied the game on a scramble in front of the London net at 10:17 and then former Knight Dalton Duhart carried a puck across the blue line and scored to put the Spirit back in front 5-4 with just over six minutes remaining.
Damien Giroux scored into an empty net to give Saginaw a late two-goal advantage and then Merkley cut the Spirit lead to 6-5 but that is as close as London got.
Saginaw outshot the Knights 38-35. Both teams scored once on the man advantage.
London will be in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday afternoon.
Myskiw in stitches
On Friday night a puck was unintentionally fired into the Knights bench in London’s win over Barrie and it screamed past everyone wearing a helmet and hit the one player on the Knights who wasn’t wearing one. Dylan Myskiw was in his seat as London’s backup goaltender and took the puck off the side of his head, just in front of his right ear. The Winnipeg, Man., was cut for eight stitches but played against the Spirit on Saturday night.
Mitch Marner headed to All-Star game
Toronto Maple Leafs forward and former London Knights co-captain Mitch Marner will be in St. Louis on the weekend of January 25 for the NHL’s annual All-Star festivities. Marner was named with T.J. Oshie of Washington, Quinn Hughes of the Canucks and David Perron of the host Blues in something the league calls it’s “Last man in” vote. Despite missing time with an ankle issue this season Marner has 11 goals and 42 points in 34 games as the Maple Leafs push up the standings in the Atlantic Division. Marner wioll; compete in the skills competition on the Saturday night and the 3 on 3 competition on the Sunday.
Ottawa win streak ends as Petes honour Colin Campbell
The Kitchener Rangers won 25 games in a row in 1984. The London Knights won 24 games in a row in 2012. In the 2017-18 OHL season the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds won 23 straight. Ask any of those teams and you will be told in a hurry, it isn’t easy to keep them going. You need the talent and you need luck and there are no off nights. The Ottawa 67s had their 17-game streak stopped in Peterborough on Saturday night as the Petes honoured former Petes defenceman and Tillsonburg native Colin Campbell and then blanked Ottawa 4-0. Peterborough held the 67s to 23 shots on goal and got a goal and an assist from Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Nick Robertson in the victory.
The Knights complete three games in under 48 hours in Sault Ste. Marie on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. London stopped a 12-game Greyhound winning streak over London in their first game this season in the Sault. It took some doing as the teams combined for 11 goals before Liam Foudy batted a puck across the goal line to give the Knights the victory.
The Greyhounds were fairly quiet at the trade deadline. Their biggest move involved securing 17-year old import goaltender Nick Malik who was the third goaltender for the Czech Republic at the 2020 World Junior Hockey Championship but ended up playing against Team Canada after both other Czech goalies suffered injuries. Malik is the son of former NHLer Marek Malik and was selected 50th overall by Sault Ste. Marie in the 2019 CHL Import Draft.
Coverage will begin at 1:30 on 980 CFPL, at http://www.980cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.