Erie, Pennsylvania – Undefeated in exhibition play, the Erie Otters welcomed back the Saginaw Spirit on Saturday Night to close out the home-portion of their preseason schedule. Saginaw, who the Otters downed 5-4 on September 4, had dropped a 5-2 decision to the rival Flint Firebirds at Erie Insurance Arena on Friday night. The Otters on the other hand were fresh off a 10-2 demolition of the Firebirds on Thursday at home, and looking to stay perfect in preseason action.
With a great crowd on-hand to close out preseason home action, the Otters and Spirit would go back and forth in an offensively heavy first period. Emmett Sproule would start the scoring just 1:43 into the game, firing a great shot from the low left wing side to beat Andrew Oke. After a long-stretch of back-and-forth runs from the offenses without any scoring, Cameron Lowe would go through the five-hole and give the Otters a 2-0 lead. The Spirit would break past the surging Otters and see Pavel Mintyukov go past Aidan Campbell to make it 2-1 with 10:27 to go in the first. With under 6 to go in the first, both teams would strike for a goal just 1:44 apart – Noah Sedore first-up for the Otters shorthanded, followed by Luke McNamara for the Spirit on the powerplay. The period would come to a close with a 3-2 Erie lead.
Action would remain back and forth in the second period, with more penalties amounting for both sides as action got more chippy between the foes. The periods short-lived scorelessness would come to a conclusion on the other side of a killed-penalty-turned-powerplay that would see Cameron Lowe leave the box and hit the twine to make it 4-2. Kaleb Smith, who has had a terrific rookie preseason, would score his third goal of the weekend – and the game-winner – to make it a 5-2 Otters lead to close out the second.
In the third period, Brett Fullerton would take the glove in net and get to work for the Spirit. He’d get a less-than-warm welcome from Spencer Sova on a wicked wrister on the Power Play, giving Erie an insurance 6-2 lead. The Spirit would then start to forge their third-period-comeback-magic, seeing a pair of goals in 5:05 from Mintyukov (2) and PJ Forgione, drawing them within two. Noah Sedore would deke and dangle with an empty-net ahead late in the third to put the game on ice, with the Otters taking home the win 7-4.
Erie’s win on Saturday night would give them a perfect record at home to close out the hosting-portion of the preseason, 3-0 (5-4W vs. SAG 9/4, 10-2W vs. FNT 9/16, 7-4W vs. SAG 9/18). With tonight’s games end, the Otters say goodbye to the Erie Insurance Arena for the next month of hockey action. Erie will have next weekend off, before taking their first trip of the season to Flint on October 1 and 2, taking on the Firebirds and Spirit in a neutral-site weekend at Flint Iceland Arena. The Otters will return to Flint the following weekend to kickoff the 2021-22 Regular Season, and spend their first four games in Michigan. The home-portion of the schedule kicks off on October 23 for the Otters, taking on the Spirit.