ALFANO SCORES IN BACK-TO-BACK NIGHTS, OTTERS FALL IN SAGINAW
Saginaw, Michigan – For the final time in the 2022-23 season, the Erie Otters would make their last trip to Saginaw for a season-series finale with the Spirit. With Saginaw clinching the fourth playoff spot in the Ontario Hockey League’s Western Conference this past weekend, the Spirit would look to ward off the quickly approaching Flint Firebirds in the standings. The last time Erie was in town was coincidentally the last time the Spirit won a game at the Dow Event Center, and would look to exorcise the home-demons of late as the playoffs approach quickly.
Shots would not come easily in the opening minutes of the game for the two teams, as less than 10 shots would be fired halfway through the period. One of those shots – the sixth for Saginaw, to be exact – would open scoring in the game as Matyas Sapovaliv (25) would strike before the media timeout. On the game’s first power play late in the period, Erie’s pressure would lead to a hack-a-puck session in front of the net for Sam Alfano (15). After being called a goal, then waved off, the Referees would review the play and call for a good goal. Alfano would grab his second goal in as many nights, and even things up at 1-1 after 20. Saginaw would outshoot Erie 11-9.
With penalties racking up early in the new period, Kyle Downey would be called upon to make a big stop on a penalty shot for Mitchell Smith. The task would be completed, and Erie would keep it a 1-1 game. In the opening 10 minutes of the second period, Saginaw would see a pair of goals separated by just 3:17. The first goal would put Saginaw back on top, as Sebastien Gervais (8) would score a goal from a forced turnover in the right circle 6:40 into the second. Just before the game’s halfway mark, Dean Loukus (16) would strike just five seconds into the Spirit power play opportunity to make it a 3-1 game. Erie would go into the final 20 minutes of play trailing 3-1, being outshot 22-16.
Trailing by a pair going into the third period, Erie would need to take advantage of any opportunities they could find to kick start the offense. A pair of Erie power play opportunities would lead the team into the second half of the third period, unable to capitalize on their first opportunity due to Tristan Lennox in net. On Erie’s second opportunity, an attempted lead-feed up the ice for Erie would redirect off an Otter body, and result in a shorthanded own-goal against the Otters with Theo Hill (9) getting credited for the goal. Erie would be outshot 30-25, falling 4-1 to the Saginaw Spirit. The loss would officially eliminate Erie from playoff contention.
Erie will return home on Saturday night for the final meeting of the season with an American foe as the Flint Firebirds come to town. The Otters will look for revenge from a 4-1 loss in Flint on Wednesday night. Saturday night will see the annual St. Patrick’s Celebration as a part of Office Tribute Night (pres. by Printing Concepts) featuring Kate Flannery (Meredith Palmer; The Office). The exclusive pregame meet-and-greet with Kate Flannery officially sold out earlier today, but fans will have a chance to meet the star of the hit NBC sitcom during the first period. The first 1000 fans through the doors Saturday will receive a free “World’s Best Hockey Fan” Coffee Mug (pres. by Printing Concepts).