Schaefer Scores Third-Career Goal, Erie Falls to #2 Saginaw
Saginaw, Michigan – One last stop on the three-games-in-three-cities three-in-three for the Erie Otters. For the final time during the 2023-24 regular season, Erie would make the trip to the host site of the 2024 Memorial Cup in Saginaw. Battling a Saginaw Spirit team that is arguably one of the league’s hottest in the last 10 games – and battling former goaltender Nolan Lalonde – Erie would hope to stop the three-game slide the week has thrusted upon it. Relying on the services of a new (and temporary) goaltender in Boe Piroski, Erie would vie for the Saturday night upset bid.
The familiar script of the last few games would once again come to fruition against the Erie Otters. Slow offensive starts for either side would see more back-and-forth play than opportunities. Unfortunately for Erie, the first real opportunity of the game would go to the favor of the Spirit, as Rodwin Dionicio (16) would put the home team up 1-0 11:49 into the game. Just over two minutes later, Josh Bloom (3) would turn the result to a 2-0 lead for the Spirit. Erie would respond to close out the period though, as Matthew Schaefer (3) would breakaway and sting the goal post to put the Otters on the board in a one-goal game. With 20 in the books, shots would be even at seven, with Saginaw up 2-1.
Starting to hear up thanks to the late Schaefer goal, Erie would start to turn the shooting tide in their favor, leading in shots 10-7 in the frame at one point. The Otters would strike for the first – and tying – goal of the period as Bruce McDonald (11) would deke and dangle around Lalonde for Erie’s second goal with 8:18 gone in the middle period. The period would close with a pair of goals from the Spirit separated by 5:15, as Joey Willis (12) and Rodwin Dionicio (17) would put the Spirit back up by their previous two-goal lead. After 40, the Otters would trail 4-2, and in shots 22-18.
2:55 into the third, the only goal of the period would come from Owen Beck (24) to put the Saginaw Spirit up 5-2. Erie would outshoot Saginaw the remainder of the way 10-8, but be unable to create any offense in the third. As the final horn would sound to a 5-2 loss, Erie would drop its fourth-straight game – its longest such skid of the season – and fall below .500 for the first time since December 2.
The road trip closes for the Erie Otters as they return home to prepare for Wednesday, February 14’s game against Niagara, travel to Guelph for the final time this season on Friday the 16th, and return home for the highly-anticipated Mascot Mania (pres. by Chick-fil-A) to celebrate Otto’s birthday party with all his friends! The first 1500 fans in the arena will receive an Otto Bobblehead (pres. by Rebich Investments). The “week” closes for Erie on Monday afternoon for Canada’s Family Day, making their only trip of the season to Brantford against the Bulldogs.