Preview: Spirit Open Home Schedule Saturday against Firebirds
Saginaw, MI. - Coming off of the best season in Spirit history and as the reigning West Division champions, the Spirit prepare to take on their in-state rival the Flint Firebirds for the first game of the Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup tonight for their home opener at The Dow Event Center. Puck drop at 7:05 p.m.
The 2019 West Division Champion banner will be unveiled during a pregame ceremony. The first 2,000 fans will receive a mini 2019 West Division Championship banner provided by HAP.
The Spirit finished off their preseason with a 3-2-0-0 record, including one win against the Firebirds (3-1-0-0).
Starting off the regular season, the Spirit traveled to Kitchener to face-off against the Rangers Friday.
The Spirit dominated the first two periods of Friday night's game at The Aud, leading 4-2 and smothering the Rangers attack, limiting them to just 16 shots. The Rangers put on a heavy push in the third period, and ended up tying the game with just over five minutes remaining on the clock.
In overtime, former Saginaw Spirit draft pick Ryan Stepien ended the game on a tip in at the side of the net that just barely squeaked through the pads of Tristan Lennox.
With five of the seven players that attended NHL training camps back with the Spirit, including Cole Coskey (New York Islanders), Nicholas Porco (Dallas Stars), and Mason Millman (Philadelphia Flyers), the Spirit is almost back to full strength, with Bode Wilde remaining with the New York Islanders and Ivan Prosvetov with the Arizona Coyotes.
The Spirit set numerous team records last season including best overall record at 45-17-3-3 and most points in a single season (96) on their way to their second West Division Title in the team's 18-year history.
The Firebirds finished their 2018-2019 regular season with a record of 16-46-6-0, falling in all eight games head-to-head with Saginaw and getting outscored 49-13 in those games.
The Firebirds dropped their opening night affair on the road as well, 6-3 to the Soo Greyhounds.
Jake Durham and Cody Morgan led the way for the Firebirds offensively with a goal and an assist each. Overage goaltender Anthony Popovich struggled in his debut with Flint, allowing six goals on 35 shots.
Flint sent a team-record nine players to NHL Training Camp this season, highlighted by Dallas Stars 2018 first round pick and Firebird team captain, Ty Dellandrea. Dellandrea remains the only player still away while, Jake Durham (Columbus), Riley McCourt (Boston), Cody Morgan (Detroit), Anthony Popovich (Detroit), Dennis Busby (Arizona), Evgeniy Oksentyuk (Arizona), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver), and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida) have all been returned.
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.
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Ontario Hockey League Stories from September 21, 2019
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