Saginaw stays super against Knights
Photo: Natalie Shaver – OHL Images
Saginaw, Mich. – The Saginaw Spirit (16-8-0-1) the London Knights (15-10-0-1) on Saturday, December 2nd, at the Dow Event Center. Rodwin Dionicio notched a goal and an assist while Ethan Hay scored the game-winner on the powerplay during the team’s Superhero Night. Nolan Lalonde started in net for the Spirit and made 13 saves on 18 shots. Michael Simpson started for the Knights and made 26 saves on 32 shots on goal.
The Knights were the first to strike, only one minute into the first period. Oliver Bonk passed to Sam O’Reilly who then passed to Max McCue. McCue then took the puck between the inner circle hash mark and took a shot toward goal. The puck slipped between Nolan Lalondes legs and into the net to give London a 1-0 lead over Saginaw.
With 10:56 left in the first period, Saginaw suffered their first penalty of the night. Zayne Parekh was sent to the penalty box for hooking, giving London their first power play opportunity of the night. The Knights capitalized on the opportunity with Easton Cowan passing the puck behind the goal line to Jacob Julien. Julien instantly passed to Oliver Bonk who wasted no time burying a shot past Lalonde’s blocker, extending London’s lead over Saginaw to 2-0 with 9:53 left in the first.
With 1:19 left in the first period both Jackson Edward and Sebastien Gervais would be called for fighting and would leave for the rest of the period. They both would serve 5-minute penalties and take a seat in the penalty box at the beginning of the second period.
The first period ended with London leading Saginaw 2-0 as well as outshooting the Spirit 8-6.
With 13:51 left in the second period the Saginaw Spirit were finally able to get on the board. Rodwin Dionicio made a cross ice pass to Zayne Parekh who instantly took a shot on goal from the far side of the right face-off circle. The puck bounced off Michael Simpson pads, sending the puck to his left. Hunter Haight was there for the rebound to cut Saginaw’s deficit to 2-1.
Saginaw soon tied the game with 7:58 left in second when Rodwin Dionicio skated past multiple defenders, even jumping over one that tripped, to take the puck all the way to the goal line. Before crossing, Dionicio rifled a shot that bounced off Simpson’s head and in, tying the game 2-2. Joey Willis and Calem Mangone received assists on this goal.
London soon responded with 7:10 left in the second. Ruslan Gazizov broke up a Saginaw pass and began to break away the ice with only James Guo to beat. Gazizov passed to Denver Barkley, who then rifled a shot from the slot, sailing the puck past Nolan Lalonde’s head and into the net for the 3-2 lead.
With 5:57 left in the second, Saginaw’s Rodwin Dionicio was sent to the penalty box for tripping, giving London another power play opportunity. The Knights took advantage of the power play opportunity and soon scored with 5:16 left in the second. Kasper Halttunen and Easton Cowan went back and forth with the puck with Halttunen ultimately taking a shot on goal, wiring a shot just out of reach for Nolan Lalonde and giving London the 4-2 lead.
With 2:15 left in the second period Saginaw responded with another goal. Braden Haché made a short pass to Joey Willis in the neutral zone with Willis turning up ice. Willis attempted a long shot on goal just behind the right face-off circle but London defender, Oliver Bonk, blocked it. The puck flew up and landed right in front of Matyas Sapovaliv. Sapovaliv took a shot of his own from the same spot Willis did, sailing the puck just past Michael Simpson glove. The puck met the nylon to make the score 4-3, in favor of London still.
The second period ended with the London Knights leading by a score of 4-3. However, the Spirit started to outshoot the Knights 23-12 (17-4 in the second period).
Only ten seconds into the third period, Denver Barkey received an interference call and was sent to the penalty box. Saginaw did not disappoint on the power play opportunity when Michael Misa passed to Matyas Sapovaliv, who sat right on the goal line to Michael Simpson’s left. Sapovaliv instantly passed to Calem Mangone who was just inside the right face-off circle when he took a shot on goal. The puck flew just inches above Michael Simpson’s glove to tie the game at four apiece with 18:36 left in the game.
With 16:29 left in the game, London’s Sam Dickinson was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking to give Saginaw another power play opportunity. Rodwin Dionicio made an attempted pass to Sebastien Gervais, but the puck bounced off a London defender and to Zayne Parekh. Parekh then made a shot pass to Lincoln Moore who’d turn up ice toward the goal. Moore unloaded a heavy wrister off the post for the 5-4 lead.
With 15:08 left in the game, the Spirit scored yet another goal to extend their lead. Joey Willis took a shot just a few feet in front of Michael Simpson. The goaltender was able to deflect it but Ethan Hay was in front and buried the puck after a brief scramble for the 6-4 lead.
9:54 into the third period, James Guo was sent to the penalty box for goaltender interference. The Knights took advantage of this power play opportunity when Ruslan Gazizov made a shot pass to Sam Dickinson who took the puck up and rifled it from the center of the left faceoff circle. The puck sailed just above Nolan Lalone’s blocker and into the net to make the score 6-5, still in favor of Saginaw.
Michael Misa notched an empty-netter in the game’s dying moments to extend the team’s lead back to two. Zayne Parekh and Calem Mangone factored in on the sophomore forward’s team-leading 13th of the season.
The Saginaw Spirit defeated the London Knights 7-5 to improve to 16-8-0-1 on the season.
Saginaw will face London in a rematch on Friday, December 8th. Puck drop is at 7:00pm at the Budweiser Gardens.
For more information, visit saginawspirit.com or follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
For media inquiries, contact Dillon Clark at [email protected].