Preview: Spirit hope to soar on CAN Council Superhero Night against Greyhounds
It has not even been two weeks since Saginaw Spirit head coach Chris Lazary was promoted to his new position before the Thanksgiving break. Having been at the helm for just four games, including three on the road, Saginaw has secured seven of eight possible points.
The Spirit look to extend their points streak on Saturday as they host OHL West Division leader Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 7:05 p.m. from The Dow Event Center in the third annual Superhero Night in partnership with CAN Council.
Presented by Yeo & Yeo CPA’s and Business Consultants, the first 1,000 fans aged 12 and under will receive a Superhero cape. Children and parents are also encouraged to dress as their favorite Superhero and participate in the on-ice parade ceremony at the first intermission. Upper level tickets are available for $13 with $5 from each ticket purchased being donated to the CAN Council.
Superman themed jerseys will be auctioned off at the conclusion of the game. Proceeds will benefit the CAN Council, whose efforts and services aid the prevention of child abuse and neglect in the Great Lakes Bay Region.
Saturday will mark the fourth-of-eight regular-season meetings between Saginaw and last year’s playoff runner-up. The Spirit won the two previous encounters at home, taking a 5-3 decision on November 10 and September 19 in the season opener, 5-2.
Through 27 games this season, the Greyhounds are second in the Western Conference standings at 35 points. With 15 wins, seven losses, four overtime losses and one shootout loss, Sault Ste. Marie sits three points behind first place London Knights.
The Greyhounds came up short by a 3-2 score on the road this past Thursday to the Windsor Spitfires, allowing an early third period goal after notching the opening goal at 8:29 in the first. The game was tied in the final frame’s opening minute before Spitfires forward Jordan Frasca picked up the game-winner with 14:11 remaining.
Thursday’s loss solidified the end of a four-game points streak for Sault Ste. Marie, winning three against Windsor, Sudbury and Owen Sound, and falling to the Guelph Storm in overtime, finishing at 4-4-1-1 over the course of 10 games.
Saginaw returned to The Dow on Thursday after a successful Northern Ontario swing, as 2018 New York Islanders second-round pick Bode Wilde scored the overtime goal over the Thanksgiving holiday at North Bay and goaltender Ivan Prosvetov earned his second career OHL shutout Sunday against Owen Sound.
Jumping past the Attack in the Western Conference standings with 31 points for fourth place, the Spirit also continue to hold a firm grasp of second place in the West Division.
Wilde garnered his second assist during this current run in Thursday’s 2-1 home win over the Sarnia Sting. Ranked eighth among all OHL defenseman with 21 points, the Plymouth, Michigan native finished with three points, including two goals, against the Battalion.
Prosvetov has stopped 87-of-88 shots faced in his last two appearances, recording a season-high 48 on Thanksgiving which saw him tie two other league goaltenders in Mack Guzda of Owen Sound and Peterborough’s Hunter Jones for the most shutouts this season.
The 2018 Arizona Coyotes draft prospect, with a goals against average (GAA) of 3.16 with a .896 save percentage (SAV%), has won 11 games in 20 appearances since being selected in the first round of the 2018 OHL Import Draft.
Ranked second in goals and third in points among all OHL rookies this season, forward Cole Perfetti now leads Saginaw in goals scored with 12 despite missing five games in the early part of November for the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The 16-year-old gave the Spirit a two-goal lead at the 4:25 mark in the third period Thursday after scoring twice in last week’s road trip.
The opening goal two days ago was tallied by second-year forward Jake Goldowski with 10:36 remaining in the first period. The second for Goldowski in back-to-back games, the former Penn State commit provided the insurance goal en route to the 3-0 shutout over the Attack.
Veteran forward Cole Coskey continues to sit on top of the points marker for Saginaw at 25 after assisting on the Perfetti goal, while alternate captain D.J. Busdeker picked up his first point Thursday since returning from a two-game suspension in last week’s 3-2 shootout loss to Sudbury.
Recalled back to Saginaw after making 11 appearances for the Brantford 99ers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, rookie goaltender Tristan Lennox made his first career OHL start at the Sudbury Community Arena, finishing with 24 saves and stopping three consecutive shots in the shootout. Lennox has held the backup role for Prosvetov since then.
Minnesota Wild prospect Damien Giroux leads the Spirit with a plus-minus rating of +8 and second in goals with 11. The team captain garnered three goals during the road trip, including the first period opening goal against Owen Sound.
On special teams, Saginaw killed two-of-three penalties to Sarnia on Thursday for a season success rate of 82.1 percent, allowing just 84 man-up opportunities which ranks second in the league. The power play for the Spirit is 13th with 17 goals scored on 88 opportunities.
Taken by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, forward Morgan Frost leads the entire OHL in assists with 32. The 19-year-old assisted on five goals last Saturday against Sudbury and has finished with at least three points in seven games this season.
Defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Mac Hollowell ranks fifth in the league in power play assists with 11 while 2018 Arizona Coyotes first rounder Barrett Hayton is fourth in shorthanded goals at three.
Missing 21 days of action in the month of November, goaltender 2017 Los Angeles Kings draft pick Matthew Villalta has a goals against average (GAA) of 2.99 and a .906 save percentage (SV%), compiling a record of 10-3-1 through 16 games in net.
On special teams, Sault Ste. Marie is sixth overall on the power play, scoring 25 goals for a 24 percent success rate. The Greyhounds also are fourth overall in penalty killing, allowing 17 goals on 104 total man-down situations.
There will be a combined 11 players on the ice Saturday with their rights owned by NHL teams. For the Soo, it’ll be defensemen Jordan Sambrook (Detroit), Frost (Philadelphia), Hollowell (Toronto), Hayton (Arizona) and Villalta (Los Angeles) Defenseman Reilly Webb (Detroit), forwards Brady Gilmour (Detroit) and Blake Jenkins, Wilde (NY Islanders), Giroux (Minnesota) and Prosvetov (Arizona) will represent Saginaw.
The Spirit will hit the road once again for another three-game outing, beginning next Thursday, December 6, against the Niagara IceDogs at the Meridian Centre. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m. (EST) as Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers will have the call on FM Talk and Sports 100.5 and fmtalk1005.com.
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.