January 14, 2010 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Saginaw Spirit
(Saginaw MI) The Saginaw Spirit will continue a five game homestand this weekend with three games at the Dow Event Center. The Spirit will host Conference rival Sault Ste. Marie on Thursday, January 14 at 7:11 PM before a couple of contests against Eastern Conference competition to round out the week. The Niagara IceDogs will face off against the Spirit on Friday, January 15 at 7:11 PM before Saginaw hosts one of the OHL's best, the Barrie Colts, on Sunday, January 17 at 4:00 PM.
The Spirit enter the week ranked third in the OHL's West Division and fifth in the Western Conference with a record of 21-16-3-1, good for 46 points. The team has recorded 153 goals on the season which ranks fourth in the Conference. Saginaw's power play checks into the week eighth in the league with a success rate of just over 22 percent.
Jordan Skellett (16-45-61) remains in the top ten in OHL scoring as he enters the week as the league's third leading point producer, and first in assists. Skellett will represent the Spirit in this year's OHL All Star Game. Two time OHL Rookie of the Month Ivan Telegin (18-13-31) continues to lead league rookies in goals and is third in overall point production. It is expected that Telegin will be back for this week's games after skating with Team Russia at the World Juniors, and battling an illness upon his return to Saginaw. Meantime freshman Vince Trocheck (12-15-27) ranks sixth in points among first year skaters in the league. The Spirit also welcomed overage defenseman Jordan Hill to the fold after a deal consummated with the Sarnia Sting at the deadline. Veteran Joe Pleckaitis was part of that package with the Sting, who subsequently dealt him to Kingston. Three Spirit players were also listed in this week's Mid Term Rankings issued by NHL Central Scouting as Ivan Telegin ranks 26th, Josh Shalla 64th, and Michael Sgarbossa 183rd.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at Saginaw Spirit - The Spirit and the Greyhounds are in a virtual dead heat for playoff positioning in the Western Conference as the week opens as both teams have posted 21 wins and accumulated 46 points to date. The Hounds feature solid balance throughout the lineup with the strength of the squad coming from the blueline back. Veterans Jacob Muzzin (10-37-47) and Michael Quesnele (7-25-32) anchor the blueline as the Los Angeles Kings prospect Muzzin is enjoying a career year offensively leading all OHL defensemen in points. The Greyhounds also feature the NHL draft eligible duo of Brock Beukeboom (4-15-19) and Brandon Archibald (3-21-24) on the backend. In goal, Robin Lehner is the reigning OHL Goaltender of the Month and is a draft pick of the Ottawa Senators. Sault Ste. Marie did some tinkering at the trade deadline bringing in forwards Dominic DeSando (3-11-14) and Myles McCauley (17-13-30) from London and Plymouth respectively. Forward Brett Thompson (24-18-42) has also been strong for Sault Ste. Marie this season leading the team in goals. The Greyhounds have also been very proficient with their special teams play this year ranking fourth in both powerplay and penalty killing efficiency.
Niagara IceDogs at Saginaw Spirit - The Spirit will attempt to even up the season series against Niagara at a game apiece with the visitors trying to make a bid for a playoff spot in the East. As it stands, the IceDogs are tenth in the Conference six points back of the Brampton Battalion, holders of the final post season spot. Niagara also made some noise at the trade deadline as they were involved in one of the league's blockbuster deals sending St. Louis Blues' prospect Alex Pietrangelo to Barrie for a package that included the Colts first round pick from this year forward Ryan Strome (6-9-15). On the ice, Niagara is led by Andrew Agozzino (22-17-39), who will represent the team at the All-Star Game, hard working Alex Friesen (13-25-38), and the Hamilton brothers NHL draft eligible Freddie (14-17-31), and younger brother Dougie (2-7-9), who skated with Team Ontario at the recently completed World Under 17 Challenge. Veteran defenceman Reggie Traccitto (11-14-25) is having a solid offensive season on the backend for the IceDogs and number one goaltender Mark Visentin ranks 8th among North American puckstoppers by Central Scouting in its mid term poll.
Barrie Colts at Saginaw Spirit - The Colts have been one of junior hockey's best this season entering the week number three in the latest CHL poll, and a team that rattled off 22 consecutive wins earlier on. As mentioned above, the Colts fortified an already strong blueline with the acquisition of Alex Pietrangelo, who was an All Star performer at this year's World Junior Championship for the Silver Medal winning Canadian team. Pietrangelo joins two familiar faces as the anchors defensively for Barrie as Nick Crawford (9-34-43) and T.J. Brodie (5-34-39) make their return trip to the Dow Event Center. Crawford will skate for the Eastern Conference All Stars along with teammates Pietrangelo, and forwards Stefan Della Rovere (12-13-25) a prospect of the Washington Capitals, Tampa property Alex Hutchings (26-23-49), and veteran Matt Kennedy (10-8-18). That is a lot of firepower for the Colts up front who also boast veteran offensive catalysts Bryan Cameron (28-13-41) and top scorer Luke Pither (24-31-55). In goal, the trade deadline also yielded goaltender Mavric Parks to serve as part of a one two punch with Peter Di Salvo. Barrie is another team that gets great mileage out of its powerplay as it is number one in the OHL and has been for a good portion of the season.
Number Change - Rookie forward Anthony Camara will now don the number 15 on his jersey, a number previously held by Joe Pleckaitis (now with Kingston). "I've worn 15 since I started playing hockey at the age of four," stated Camara, "When I got to the Spirit the number was taken so I flipped the numbers and wore 51. But then the opportunity came up I talked to Coach Watson and got permission to go back to 15."
Game Tickets - Tickets are on sale for all three home games this weekend. Contact the Spirit at 989-497-7747 or visit the Official Saginaw Spirit Ticket and Merchandise Store at 5789 State Street in Saginaw.
William Konesko Saginaw Spirit Hockey Club Director of Game Day Operations and Public Relations Office: 989.497.7747 ext. 1913 Cell: 989.598.4797 Fax: 989.799.9426 firstname.lastname@example.org
MCVI Foundation's Shocks and Saves! Join the Spirit prior to their home game against the Sarnia Sting on January 30 when local doctors and paramedics hit the ice with Red Wing great Jiri Fischer to raise funds and educate fans on the cause of healthy heart awareness! Also tentatively scheduled to appear are former Red Wings Dave Lewis, Mickey Redmond, Igor Larionov, Dallas Drake and Jason Woolley! Tickets are on sale now - contact the Spirit for more info!