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Saginaw Spirit soar past Brantford Bulldogs in overtime

Brantford BulldogsSaginaw Spirit soar past Brantford Bulldogs in overtime

The Saginaw Spirit narrowly edged past the Brantford Bulldogs 4-3 in overtime on Friday, March 1, 2024.

After Matteo Drobac turned aside six early Saginaw shots, the Bulldogs turned up the heat on their opponents, firing shots on Spirit G Andrew Oke. Ben Bujold, Jake O’Brien and Lucas Moore all tested the Spirit starter, but Oke turned each aside.

With the Bulldogs shorthanded, Ben Bujold and Lawson Sherk broke up the ice on a two-on-one but a sliding Zayne Parekh swept the puck from the Bulldogs captain ending the opportunity. With Matteo Drobac turning aside 15 shots in the opening period, the Bulldogs took the opportunity to take another shorthanded two-on-one, this time with Patrick Thomas and Marek Vanacker, but Vanacker’s pass just missed Thomas’ stick and the horn sounded to end the opening frame with zeros on the board. 

The Bulldogs opening the period short-handed earned another two-on-one opportunity with Lawson Sherk and Ben Bujold away for the second time with Sherk’s pass just missing connections with Bujold.

After a controversial delay of game penalty, the Spirit opened the scoring at 3:47 with Josh Bloom whipping a pass to Owen Beck in the left circle for his 30th of the season putting the visitors up 1-0. The Bulldogs knotted the game at 6:35, starting with Niko Krmpotic sending the puck around the end boards where Patrick Thomas was able to pull the puck loose for Florian Xhekaj in the right circle where he rifled his 30th of the season past Oke, extending his scoring streak to ten games. Niko Krmpotic earned his first OHL point with his assist on Xhekaj’s goal.

At 11:15, the Bulldogs took the lead after Cole Brown hammered Sebastian Gervais to force a turnover in the defensive zone, he was able to set Zakary Lavoie in the slot in the offensive zone on a perfect no look pass where Lavoie fired his 26th of the season off Oke’s shoulder and in. Matteo Drobac once again stood tall in the middle frame, closing the first 40 minutes turning aside 25 of the 26 shots he faced. 

In the opening seconds of the final frame Lawson Sherk, once again short-handed, got a lead off of a Spirit defenceman and moved the puck backhand to forehand, trying to tuck the puck around Oke where the Spirit netminder made a big stop with the net coming off in the process.

After the Bulldogs escaped a lengthy five-on-three against Saginaw’s vaunted powerplay, Marek Vanacker hopped on a loose puck and outraced a Spirit defender. Driving to front of the Spirit goal, Vanacker moved back-hand and shelved a shot over Oke’s shoulder going back bar and down for his 31st of the season, giving the Bulldogs a 3-1 lead.

At 9:43, the Spirit cut into the Bulldogs lead with the play starting with Zayne Parekh firing a right point shot to the net and Calem Mangone deflecting it, scoring his 18th of the season pulling Saginaw to within one at 3-2.

At 14:46, the Spirit were able to draw even at 3-3, with Zayne Parekh scoring his 29th of the season with Hunter Haight and Rodwin Dionicio getting the assists. In the remaining seconds, Matteo Drobac made a crucial save on Hunter Haight and after 60 minutes, the Bulldogs and Spirit were headed to overtime.

After an opportunity in the Spirits zone on a drive by Marek Vanacker, the Spirit rushed the Bulldogs zone with Matyas Sapovaliv sending a pass to Zayne Parekh, who fired a right wing drive past Matteo Drobac to score his 30th of the season and second of the game to give the Spirit a 4-3 win, just 28 seconds into the extra frame. 

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