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Preview: Spirit, Greyhounds meet Thursday with West Division Championship on the line

Less than 800 tickets remain for what could be a historic night at The Dow Event Center

Saginaw, MI – The West Division’s top two teams clash as the Saginaw Spirit (45-15-2-3 95pts.) host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (41-16-7-1 90pts.) Thursday, March 14 at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.  Puck drop for the seventh of eight meetings of the season is set for 7:05 p.m.  The division leading Spirit have won four of the first six meetings of the season.

It has been a year of accomplishments for the Saginaw Spirit, setting team-records in both points (95) and wins (45).

Saginaw has won nine straight games and needs a win tonight to clinch the West Division crown for the second time in team history.  The Western Conference title is within reach as the Spirit trail the London Knights by just two points with a game in-hand.  The Spirit look to claim the Western Conference title for the first time in team-history.

There is a $5 student and military ticket rush for the game against the Greyhound presented by Reder Landscaping.  Bay City’s Steve Armstrong and the 25 Cent Beer Band will be entertaining fans before the game in the Budweiser Red Room at 5:30 p.m. Radio Personality Mike Avery from the show “Mike Avery’s Outdoor Magazine” will also be in the Red Room and recognized during the Media time out in the first period.

Watch live on OHLLive.com or listen live on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and fmtalk1005.com with the voice of the Saginaw Spirit Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call.  “Countdown to Faceoff” with host Domenic Papa starts 15 minutes prior to puck drop.

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.

The Spirit and Greyhounds both cracked into the Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) top-10 rankings this week.  The Soo was an honorable mention and Saginaw comes into the game as the CHL’s ninth ranked team.

Saginaw’s confidence has exploded since Chris Lazary took over as head coach back on November 18.  The Spirit are 34-6-1-2 under Lazary and have climbed four spots in the Western Conference standings.

Rookie standout Cole Perfetti has been a huge boon to the Spirit roster this season.  Saginaw’s 2018 fifth overall pick is first among Ontario Hockey League (OHL) rookies in both goals (36) and points (73).

The Whitby, Ontario native is a front runner for the Emms Family Award, which is awarded to the top OHL rookie.  Perfetti has five goals and two assists in the past two games with points in 17 of the last 19 games.  The left-winger has three goals and four assists in five games played against the Soo this season.

2017 Florida Panthers 10th overall pick Owen Tippett has points in nine of the last 10 games.  The Peterborough, Ontario native scored three goals and six assists in the past four games.  Tippett was the OHL’s second star of the night on Tuesday after contributing a four-point performance (1 Goal, 3 Assists) against the Sarnia Sting.

Tippett has three straight 70-plus point season after he collected 75 points in the past two years.  The right-winger needs just two points to tie his career-high total of 75 points.

Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod has been extremely strong since being acquired from the Mississauga Steelheads before the trade deadline.  The Mississauga, Ontario native has a plus/minus of plus-17 since the trade.

McLeod, a 2018 second round pick of the Oilers, has points in the last three games heading into Thursday’s contest.

New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins has points in four of the last five games.  The Jackson, Michigan native contributed two goals and six assists in the recent hot streak.

The Spirit and the Greyhounds have two of the best penalty kills in the OHL.  Sault Ste. Marie has killed 82.1% of the man-power advantages this season, good for fourth in the OHL.  Saginaw third ranked penalty kill has allowed a league-best 37 power play goals this season, killing power plays at a 83.4% clip.

Thursday’s game will feature two of the OHL’s top defensemen in Saginaw’s Bode Wilde and Sault Ste. Marie’s Mac Hollowell.

Wilde, a signee of the New York Islanders, is second among OHL defensemen with 70 points.  The Plymouth, Michigan native is in the top-three among defensemen in all major offensive categories.

Hollowell, a Toronto Maple Leafs signee, leads the OHL’s defensemen in goals (23) and points (73).  The Soo defenseman has two goals and five assists in five games against the Spirit this season.

The Greyhounds will be without the OHL’s leading scorer Morgan Frost, who is serving a three-game suspension.  The 2017 Philadelphia Flyers first round pick leads the OHL in assists (71) and points 108.  The center has been dominant against the Spirit this year with four goals and seven assists in six games this season.

2019 NHL Draft top prospect Cole MacKay has been a break out performer for the Greyhounds this season.  The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native has career-high totals in goals (27), assists (31), and points (58) this year.

The Soo Greyhounds have four players with rights owned by NHL clubs, forwards Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers-signed), Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes-signed), defenseman Mac Hollowell (Toronto Maple Leafs – signed), and goaltender Matthew Villalta (Los Angeles Kings – signed).

The Spirit also boasts eight players drafted by NHL clubs, forwards Brady Gilmour (Detroit Red Wings), Blade Jenkins (New York Islanders), Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers-signed), Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers), Damien Giroux (Minnesota Wild), defensemen Reilly Webb (Detroit Red Wings), Bode Wilde (New York Islanders-signed), and goaltender Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona Coyotes).

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