Spirit Finish Season Series Perfect against Rival Firebirds
Saginaw, MI - The Saginaw Spirit finish the season series perfect against the in-state rival Flint Firebirds with a 9-2 victory in the eighth and final meeting of the season Wednesday evening.
Florida Panthers 10th overall pick in 2017 Owen Tippett collects his first hat trick as a Saginaw Spirit. Seven Spirit players provided multi-point efforts in the win.
Rookie Tristan Lennox makes 31 saves for his seventh victory of the season. In three career games against the Firebirds, Lennox has 2.00 goals against average and a save percentage of .933.
Saginaw's Albert Michnac opened the scoring just over seven minutes into the first period with his 15th goal of the season. The overager collected a loose puck in the Flint zone and skated into the center of the ice. Michnac sent a wrist shot from the top of the slot that beat Flint goaltender Luke Cavallin over the blocker.
Just under five minutes later, rookie Cole Perfetti scored the Spirit's second goal of the game on the power play. After New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins one-timed a pass from Saginaw's leading scorer Cole Coskey, the rebound jumped right to Perfetti's stick at the left face-off dot. The Whitby, Ontario native hammered home the puck for his 23rd goal of the season.
Perfetti, a Saginaw 2018 first round pick, extended his point streak to seven games with the goal. It was the 16-year old's sixth goal of the season with the man-power advantage.
Coskey moved into a tie with Chris Chappell for 10th all-time in points as a Saginaw Spirit.
Flint cut the Spirit lead to one goal with just under five minutes remaining in the opening period. Flint Defenseman Riley McCourt's shot from the point squeaked through a screen in front of Saginaw rookie goaltender Tristan Lennox for his sixth goal of the season.
Saginaw took a 2-1 lead into the first intermission and outshot Flint, 13-11 in the first 20 minutes of play.
Saginaw added their third goal of the game just 3:14 into the second period. Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod won a race for the puck with a Flint defenseman in the offensive zone. The Mississauga, Ontario native moved into the slot and made a smooth deke around Cavallin for his 17th goal of the season.
Just 14 seconds after the McLeod goal, Tippett notched his 25th goal of the season to give Saginaw a three-goal lead. McLeod sent a perfect pass over for Tippett to hammer home with a one-timer from the top of the left circle.
Tippett and McLeod was acquired by the Spirit two separate trades with the Mississauga Steelheads just before the trade deadline.
Jackson, Michigan native Blade Jenkins added his 20th goal of the season just over three minutes later to give Saginaw a 5-1 lead. While on a two-on-one rush with Minnesota Wild prospect Damien Giroux, Jenkins' attempted pass deflected off the Flint defenseman and rolled into the net.
Jenkins, a New York Islanders prospect, now has seven goals in the eight games against the Flint Firebirds this season.
Overager Justin Murray collected his second assist of the game on the Jenkins goal. The Spirit are 19-3-1-0 since the acquisition of the former Barrie Colts captain.
After the goal, the Firebirds replaced Cavallin with goaltender Emanuel Vella for the remainder of the game.
Tippett added his second goal of the game on the power play just 2:54 into the final frame. Tippett pulled the puck through the legs of a Flint defenseman and roofed the puck over the goaltender Vella's blocker.
The Spirit scored their seventh goal of the game just over two minutes later with Giroux's 23rd goal of the season. The Spirit captain collected the rebound off a D.J. Busdeker shot and tipped it into the Flint goal.
The Saginaw onslaught continued with New York Islanders prospect Bode Wilde's 14th goal of the season on the power play. The Plymouth, Michigan native was set up with a perfect pass from Jenkins for a one-timer from the point.
Wilde, a 2018 second round pick of the Islanders, is first among OHL defensemen with eight power play goals this season.
The Spirit's sixth best power play in the OHL got a boost with three goals with the man-power advantage in the game.
Flint's got a goal back with just under eight minutes remaining in the game with Jake Durham's team leading 33rd goal. Durham got behind the Saginaw defense and beat Lennox five-hole on a breakaway.
Just 43 seconds after the Durham goal, Tippett completed his hat trick to give Saginaw a 9-2 lead. McLeod sent a beauty pass over to the front of the net for the Saginaw right-winger to tip into the net.
It was the Peterborough, Ontario native's first hat trick as a Saginaw Spirit and second of the season.
Applebee's Three Stars of the Game:
Owen Tippett (SAG) 3G +2
Ryan McLeod (SAG) G, 3A +3
Blade Jenkins (SAG) G, 3A +1
The Saginaw Spirit host the Owen Sound Attack Friday, February 15 in a preview to what could be a first round playoff match-up. Puck drop for the second and final meeting of the season is set for 7:05 p.m. The Spirit shut out the Attack in the first meeting of the season, 3-0.
Watch live on OHLlive.com or listen live on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call. "Countdown to Faceoff" with host Domenic Papa starts 15 minutes prior to puck drop.
Friday is Teacher Appreciation Night at The Dow Event Center and marks the start of Ice Blast Weekend. Olivia Grace and Company Princesses Night Kids Inflatables will be available prior to the game in the Budweiser Red Room beginning at 5:30 p.m.
Ice Blast Weekend continues Saturday, February 16 when the Spirit take on the Oshawa Generals at The Dow at 7:05 p.m. "Cool2Duel" Dueling Pianos will be in the Budweiser Red Room as well as the 2019 Chili Cook-off starting at 5:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets to any Saginaw Spirit home game call (989) 497-7747, visit saginawspirit.com, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.
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