The Saginaw Spirit took a pair of one-goal lead. The Erie Otters erased those deficits both times.
But the third time around wasn’t the charm for the Otters.
Spirit center Vincent Trocheck’s second goal snapped a tie with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left and handed the Otters a 3-2 loss in front of a home-opening crowd of 4,746 at Tullio Arena on Saturday night.
The Otters (1-1-0-0) began the game with the spirit of former Otter Vince Scott on their side. The club honored Scott, who died in automobile accident in April, by retiring his No. 16 in a pregame ceremony.
But the Spirit overcame the Otters’ emotionally charged start to the game. Then Saginaw snapped the scoreless tie on rookie Brandon Saad’s first Ontario Hockey League goal 5:33 into the opening period.
Saad, a Pittsburgh native and projected top-five pick in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, banged in a rebound on the power play during a goal-mouth scramble.
Two minutes later, Otters defenseman Tyler Hostetter fired a wrist shot past Spirit goaltender Mavric Parks to tie the score at 1. Other than that, the Otters couldn’t solve the overage Parks. He stopped 14-of-15 shots in the first period. The Otters outshot Saginaw 15-6 in the period.
Erie’s commanding lead in shots continued in the second. The Otters fired 14 more shots at Parks. But the Spirit scored midway through the period, as Trocheck fired a wrist shot over Otters goaltender Ramis Sadikov’s left shoulder for a 2-1 lead at the 9:20 mark.
Yet the teams headed to the second intermission tied at 2. Anthony Luciani, who has filled departed captain Zack Torquato’s spot on the Otters’ No. 1 line, scored his second goal in two nights off assists from linemates Greg McKegg and Mike Cazzola with 30 seconds left in the period.
The Otters dominated the opening half of the third period. They held the Spirit without a shot on goal for 10-plus minutes. But the Otters failed to capitalize on several quality scoring chances.
The Spirit responded with 12 shots on goal down the stretch. Trocheck scored the game-winner on a 4-on-4 situation to snap the 2-2 tie and hand the Spirit (1-1-0-0) their first win of the season.
Spirit 3, Otters 2
Saginaw 1 1 1 — 3
Erie 1 1 0 — 2
1st Period — 1. Saginaw, Brandon Saad 1 (Ashman, Telegin), 5:33 (pp). 2. Erie, Tyler Hostetter 1 (Luciani, Cazzola), 7:36. Penalties — Szwarz (S) slashing. :04; Paton (E) checking from behind, 4:55; Saad (S) 10-min. misconduct, 7:36; Trocheck (S) unsportsmanlike conduct, 10:53; Szydlowski (E) hooking, 15:06; Hermenegildo (S) roughing, 16:46.
2nd Period — 3. Saginaw, Vincent Trocheck 1 (O’Connor, Saad), 9:20. 4. Erie, Anthony Luciani 2 (McKegg, Cazzola), 19:30. Penalties — Broll (E) 5-min. fighting, :02; Kantor (S) 5-min. fighting, :02; Sgarbossa (S) cross checking, 11:02; Hermenegildo (S) checking from behind, 19:49; Appio (E) 10-min. misconduct, 19:49; Kantor (S) 10-min. misconduct, 19:49.
3rd Period — 5. Saginaw, Trocheck 2 (Szwarz, O’Connor), 16:18. Penalties — Shalla (S) interference, 11:46; Austin (E) checking from behind, 14:18; Walch (S) holding, 16:02.
Shots on goal — Saginaw, 6-10-12—28; Erie, 15-14-7—36.
Goaltenders — Saginaw, Mavric Parks 1-1-0-0 (36 shots, 34 saves); Erie, Ramis Sadikov 1-1-0-0 (28 shots, 25 saves).
Power plays — Saginaw (1-3), Erie (0-7).
Referees — Jason Faist, Darcy Burchell. Linesmen — Fraiser MacIntire, Ray King.
Attendance — 4,746.
* Vincent Trocheck, Spirit (2 goals) ** Anthony Luciani, Otters (goal, assist) *** Mike Cazzola, Otters (2 assists)