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Preview: Spirit Hope to Snap Two-Game Skid Friday in Flint

February 1, 2019 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Saginaw Spirit News Release

Flint, MI - The Saginaw Spirit are poised to regroup following back-to-back losses on the road this week.

Wrapping up a five-game road swing tonight at the Dort Federal Event Center against in-state rival, Flint Firebirds, the Spirit look to take six of a possible 10 points before returning home Saturday.

Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (EST) in the sixth of an eight-game regular-season series.

Saginaw has already clinched its second straight Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup by winning the first five games of this year, including three in Flint, having recently scored the most goals in a single-game (9) in over four years back on January 2.

Broadcast, Watch Party & Ticket Info

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

Fans can visit the Buffalo Wild Wings location at 2690 Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw and join the official "Watch Party" for all Spirit away games. Admission is free of charge.

To purchase your tickets for all Saginaw home games, call (989) 497-7747, visit saginawspirit.com, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.

Last Time Out

The Spirit allowed seven unanswered goals Wednesday at the Sleeman Centre in an 8-2 loss to the Guelph Storm.

It's the first time Saginaw has dropped two straight games dating back to December 6, as Guelph shortens the gap on third place in the Western Conference standings to three points.

2018 Edmonton Oilers second-round (40th overall) draft pick Ryan McLeod and rookie Cole Perfetti collected a goal in the team's fourth game in Ontario in six days.

Following last Sunday's 5-3 final against the Ottawa 67's and being pulled after allowing six goals to the Storm, Arizona Coyotes goaltending prospect Ivan Prosvetov has a goals against average (GAA) of 3.13 with a 0.901 save percentage (SAV%). Rookie backup Tristan Lennox made his first appearance in relief in three months where he would finish with 13 saves.

The race for the West Division lead is a four-point difference between the Spirit (64) and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (68).

Spirit Standouts

McLeod has earned at least one point in nine of the last 11 games since being traded from the Mississauga Steelheads earlier this month. The 19-year-old forward has already reached the double-digit mark with his new club, sitting in second in assists (32) and third in points (48).

Perfetti's five-game points steak came to an halt last Friday in a 7-1 win over the Kingston Frontenacs but finished with an assist against Ottawa. From January 11-24, Perfetti notched four goals and two assists for six points to remain in the top-five among OHL first-year players at goals (20), assists (22) and points (42)

Since Prosvetov enjoyed a nine-game stretch without collecting a loss, he sits tied for fourth among all league goaltenders this season in wins at 24, as well as tied for second with three shutouts. Lennox, in nine appearances in net, has a goals against average (GAA) of 2.38 with a 0.910 save percentage (SAV%).

Detroit Red Wings prospect Brady Gilmour was recently featured on saginawspirit.com this week, discussing his return from an elbow injury that kept him out for half of the 2017-18 season and reaching the 50 career goal mark on January 2. The alternate captain is tenth on the team in points (25) on eight goals and 17 assists.

In the win against the Frontenacs, captain and 2018 Minnesota Wild fifth round (155th overall) pick Damien Giroux logged his first multi-point outing since January 14, finishing with a goal and assist. The Minnesota Wild prospect is fourth on the team in goals (19) and eighth in points (32).

As the hottest free agent available on the Spirit from the eyes of NHL scouts, Cole Coskey, leads the team in goals (27) and points (58). Coskey, the Illinois native, had a seven-game points streak come to an end against Guelph, finishing with six points and five assists for 11 points during the 16-day stretch.

As Saginaw's highest picked NHL draft prospect, Owen Tippett is currently tied for second in the OHL in first goals at seven. Taken by the Florida Panthers with the 10th overall pick in 2017, Tippett is second on the team in goals this season at 22, having recorded three goals and seven assists for 10 points since coming over from the Steelheads before the trade deadline.

2018 New York Islanders second-round (41st overall) selection Bode Wilde joins Tippett as the two Spirit players to have signed entry-level contracts with an NHL franchise. Wilde and Coskey are also the only two players on the roster to surpass the 50-points mark heading into the month of February. Leading the Spirit in assists at 37, Wilde has registered four in the last three games.

Second-year forward Nicholas Porco ended an eight-game stretch without a goal on January 24 against the Peterborough Petes before scoring twice on Friday. Porco, who's sixth on the team in goals at 18, was among the 50 OHL players along with rookie Mason Millman to appear in this week's NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings for the 2019 NHL Draft.

19-year-old winger D.J. Busdeker from Dexter, Michigan, has taken on the role of third-line defense during this road swing while overager Reagan O'Grady wraps up his four-game suspension. At 11 goals and 21 assists for 32 goals this season, Busdeker's five-game points streak ended against the Storm.

Part of the major overhaul done by the front office at the deadline, overage defenseman Justin Murray has posted three goals and seven assists for 10 points in the near two months with his new club. The former Barrie Colts captain had his latest goal come in the win over Kingston with an assist as well.

On special teams, the Spirit have the league's fifth-best power play unit on 42 goals for a 25.3 percent success rate this season. The penalty kill is ranked sixth overall with 32 goals allowed for an 80.4 percent success rate.

Flint Scouting Report

Following the conclusion of Friday's home game for Flint, who recently dropped a 4-3 decision on Wednesday to the London Knights, the last-place Western Conference club will play five consecutive games on the road. From January 18-February 13, the Firebirds will have played 11 away games.

With the team sitting 24 points behind eighth-place Windsor Spitfires for the final playoff spot in the West, the final two months of the regular-season is about redemption for Flint, after starting the year winless in its first 17 games played.

Under the helm of former Philadelphia Flyers winger and two-time Memorial Cup winner, Eric Wellwood, the Firebirds are one win shy of double-digits and four points from climbing out of last-place in the OHL.

Leading the way in assists (33) and points (50) in 44 games played is 2018 Dallas Stars first-round (13th overall) pick Ty Dellandrea, while third-year forward Jake Durham has a team-high 31 goals and is second in points (49).

The Firebirds have split time between two goaltenders in Emanuel Vella and Luke Cavallin. The pair have combined for an average of 28.1 saves made per game, a goals against average (GAA) of 5.13 with a 0.868 save percentage (SAV%).

On special teams, Flint is ranked 19th in the OHL on the penalty kill this season with 60 goals allowed for a 68.9 percent success rate. The Firebirds also have the 19th best man-up unit with 25 goals scored for a 14.5 percent success rate.

Featured NHL Prospects

There will be a combined 10 players on the ice Friday with their rights owned by NHL teams. For the Firebirds, it'll be Dellandrea (Dallas) and Dennis Busby (Arizona).

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

Looking Ahead

Saturday will be the 12th annual Shocks and Saves Charity Game, presented by the Pulse 3 Foundation.

With fellow Detroit Red Wings alumni and local EMTs and physicians taking the ice at 4:30 p.m. (EST) at The Dow Event Center, $13 discounted tickets are available when the Spirit host Flint at 7:05 p.m. (EST).

$5 from each ticket sold will be donated to help save the lives of those affected by cardiovascular disease through the education and distribution of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) around the Great Lakes Bay Region.


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