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Preview: Spirit Battle Knights for First Place in Western Conference

March 16, 2019 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Saginaw Spirit News Release

Saginaw, MI - The Saginaw Spirit host the London Knights tonight at The Dow Event Center for the final home game of the 2018-19 regular-season.

Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (EST).

Saturday marks the final of a four-game series between the second-place Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Spirit and first-place Western Conference leader Knights.

With one point separating the two already crowned winners of their respected divisions, Saginaw can guarantee themselves home-ice advantage in the first three rounds of the playoffs with a win tonight, having already beaten the Knights twice this season.

The Spirit won the last meeting in London on March 9, 4-1.

Broadcast, Promotional & Ticket Info

Listen live on OHLLive.com, the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk & Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers. Pregame coverage starts at 6:45 p.m. (EST).

Justin Murray, Reagan O'Grady and Albert Michnac will be recognized in the Overage Ceremony prior to puck drop. Fans are encouraged to get to their seats early to send off our graduating players.

There will be a live postgame jersey auction open to the public with Saturday being the final opportunity to turn in 'Any Game, Any Time Tickets' this season.

To purchase your tickets for all Saginaw home games, call (989) 497-7747, visit saginawspirit.com, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.

Last Time Out

The Spirit clinched the Ontario Hockey League West Division title for the first time in eight years.

Hoisting the Bumbacco Trophy for just the second in the team's 17-year history, the Spirit also have secured one of the top two spots in this year's playoffs after extending their team points record to 96 on Thursday.

That's despite falling to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at The Dow Event Center in overtime, 2-1, in front of 4,687 at The Dow Event Center.

Damien Giroux scored the lone goal for Saginaw for his 50th point of the season while Ivan Prosvetov stopped 26 shots but took his first loss since February 16.

It's the first overtime loss for Saginaw in nearly three months.

Spirit Standouts

Giroux, the 2018 Minnesota Wild fifth-round (155th overall) draft pick, became the eighth Saginaw players to surpass the 50-point mark on the season following his showing against Sault Ste. Marie. The Hammer, Ontario, native finished with 13 points during the month of February en route to his new single-season point total. Giroux garnered two goals last Tuesday in the win over the Sarnia Sting.

Prosvetov, the 2018 Arizona Coyotes fourth-round (114th overall) draft pick, had his eight-game winning streak snapped after allowing both goals to the Soo. Ranked second in wins (36), fifth in goals-against average (2.92) and fifth in save percentage (0.910) among league goaltenders, Prosvetov is averaging nearly 28 saves per game in 52 appearances this season.

Cole Perfetti, the 2018 OHL Priority Selection first-round (5th overall) pick, continues to make a strong case for this season's Emms Family Award. Awarded to the top performing rookies in the league, Perfetti leads all first-year players in goals (36) and points (73), having registered one point or more in 17 of the last 20 games.

Owen Tippett, the 2017 Florida Panthers first-round (10th overall) draft pick, notched three goals and six assists for nine points in the four games prior to Thursday's overtime loss. Tippett is tied for first with Perfetti for the most points among all Spirit players this season and is second in goals (33).

Ryan McLeod, the 2018 Edmonton Oilers second-round (40th overall) draft pick, had his three-game point streak come to an end against the Greyhounds, where he picked up two goals and one assist. His 62 points on 19 goals and 43 assists are good for fifth overall on the team.

Blade Jenkins, the 2018 New York Islanders fifth-round (134th overall) draft pick, worked his way to two goals and six assists for eight points in a five-game span prior to Thursday. His three assists on March 3 were the most recorded by the Jackson, Michigan, native in a single-game since February 13.

Bode Wilde, the 2018 Islanders second-round (40th overall) draft pick, attained points in eight of the nine games leading up to Thursday with five goals and eight assists. Wilde is ranked third in goals (19), assists (51) and points (70) among all OHL defensemen this season.

On special teams, the Spirit have the league's eighth-best power play unit on 51 goals for a 23.2 percent success rate this season. The penalty kill is ranked third overall with 38 goals allowed for an 83.3 percent success rate.

London Scouting Report

The Knights were unable to clinch the top seed in the Western Conference in time for playoffs after Friday's 6-3 loss to Sault Ste. Marie.

Trailing by as many as three goals midway through the second period on the road, London extends its losing streak to three games, with tonight being the final of the regular-season for the 2016 Memorial Cup winners.

Overage forward Kevin Hancock was the third individual across the entire OHL to hit the 100-marker in points this season. Being drafted from the Owen Sound Attack before the trade deadline, Hancock leads the Knights in goals (50), assists (55) and points (105).

Former 2017 OHL Priority Selection first-rounder Connor McMichael is second on the team in goals (36) and points (71) while 2018 Columbus Blue Jackets first-round (18th overall) draft pick Liam Foudy yields the highest plus-minus rating of +39.

Overage goaltender Joseph Raaymakers is seventh in the league in wins (3) and has a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.95 with a 0.904 save percentage (SAV%),

On special teams, London is ranked first in the OHL on the penalty kill this season with 41 goals allowed for an 85.7 percent success rate. The Knights also have the 10th-best man-up unit with 57 goals scored for a 22.5 percent success rate.

Featured NHL Prospects

There will be a combined 17 players on the ice Saturday with their rights owned by NHL teams. For the Knights, it'll be Foudy (Columbus), Jordan Kooy (Vancouver), Paul Cotter (Vegas), Alex Formenton (Ottawa), Evan Bouchard (Edmonton), Adam Boqvist (Chicago), Joey Keane (NY Rangers), Jacob Golden (Minnesota) and Alec Regula (Detroit).

Reilly Webb (Detroit), Brady Gilmour (Detroit), Giroux (Minnesota), Prosvetov (Arizona), Tippett (Florida), Wilde (NY Islanders), Jenkins (NY Islanders) and McLeod (Edmonton) will represent Saginaw.

Looking Ahead

The Spirit conclude the 68-game regular-season stretch tomorrow when they visit Sault Ste. Marie at the GFL Memorial Gardens.

Puck drop is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. (EST).

Should the Spirit drop both tonight's and Sunday's game and end the year at 96 points, the same total the Greyhounds would garner after their win on Friday, the head-to-head season series points tiebreaker for the West Division title still belongs to Saginaw with a 9-8 edge.

The last meeting between the West Division rivals in the Soo ended in a 5-3 win on February 27 for the Spirit.

Saginaw has won twice on the road against the Greyhounds this season.





Images from this story

Saginaw Spirit celebrate against the London Knights
Saginaw Spirit celebrate against the London Knights

  

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