MISSISSAUGA, ON – The Mississauga Steelheads hosted the streaking Saginaw Spirit on Sunday afternoon for the 7th annual Teddy Bear Toss Game, presented by Canadian Tire. As always, Steelheads fans were beyond grateful this year, donating over $2,000 to Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Foundation through Teddy Bear sales. The crowd was equally as generous, launching 2,257 stuffed animals onto the ice after the team’s first goal. Thanks to the Steelheads fans in attendance tonight, over 2,000 kids whom other wouldn’t have – will now receive a gift this holiday season through the Boys and Girls Club of Peel.
It was an excellent start to the first period with the Steelheads coming out of the gates very strong. The Steelheads were able to get on the scoresheet first with an early two-man advantage. Ryan McLeod banged home a rebound from the side of the net to put the Steelheads up 1-0, bring the fans to their feet, and flood the ice surface with stuffed animals.
Following the teddy bear frenzy clean-up, the Steelheads got right back where they left off with a goal from Alan Lyszczarczyk, his 11th of the year, giving the Steelheads the 2-0 lead. Shortly thereafter the Spirit were able to cut the lead to one on a Nicholas Porco powerplay goal with just under eight minutes to go in the frame. 2-1 Steelheads through 20:00.
The Steelheads didn’t get the start they wanted at the beginning of the second period, as Saginaw tied the game 2:20 into the frame on Cole Coskey’s 14th goal of the season. Three minutes later, the Steelheads responded on a James Hardie wrist shot as his fourth goal of the year regained their one-goal lead. Saginaw found a way to tie the game up again on a Blade Jenkins goal just over two minutes after the Steelheads found the back of the net. Despite allowing two goals in the frame, the Steelheads held the Spirit to six shots while getting 15 of their own. The game was tied 3-3 at the end of two.
The third period went down to the wire with both Jacob Ingham and Ivan Prosvetov stopping everything in sight. It was a scoreless frame until DJ Busdeker gave Saginaw their first lead of the game on his seventh goal of the season. Coskey sealed the win for the Spirit with an empty netter to make it 5-3 late in the game.
The Steelheads showed off their depth this afternoon with contributions from their bottom six, including a goal from James Hardie on a great feed from Adam Varga. Both Hardie and Varga had strong game; creating plenty of scoring chances for their team. With Owen Tippett gone for the World Juniors, the Steelheads are going to need that depth to find some additional scoring. “They’re big shoes to fill,” Hardie said after scoring his fourth goal of the season “but we have depth that we can fill them in.” Coach James Richmond when asked what hurt the team tonight said “If you don’t buy in, and try to do things on your own, bad things happen.” The Steelheads are back at home on Friday December 14 when they take on the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster here.