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Preview: Spirit look to draw closer to Knights in Saturday night tilt in London

London, ON – The Saginaw Spirit continue their three-game road trip tonight at the Budweiser Gardens as they visit the London Knights.

Saturday marks the third of a four-game regular-season series between the Spirit and first place Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Knights.

Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (EST).

Saginaw won the last meeting at The Dow Event Center on February 9, 6-3.

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. Pregame 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 extended their winning streak to seven games with a 5-3 win Friday against the Guelph Storm.

Saginaw is now four points ahead of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for the OHL West Division lead with five games remaining on the schedule.

Second-year forward Camaryn Baber received first-star honors on a goal and assist and 2018 NHL Draft pick Ryan McLeod scored the game-winner in the third period.

The Spirit would snap a seven-game win streak of the Storm.

Spirit Standouts

Baber, the native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, has recorded nine points in the last six games, including four points on March 2 against the Kingston Frontenacs. Those nine points account for nearly half of his season total of 21.

McLeod, drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the second round, would snap a nine-game stretch without a goal scored on Friday. Hitting twine for the first time since February 13, McLeod would also notch his first point in four games and first point in the month of March on the game-winner.

Since scoring his first-career goal on December 8 in his debut with the Spirit, rookie forward Ethan Cardwell has impressed in his last three games, picking up five goals for the three-game point streak. The 16-year-old registered the opening score 13:44 in the first period Friday.

Overage winger Albert Michnac finished with two assists Friday on both the Baber and McLeod goals to earn third-star honors. The Prague, Czech Republic, is on a six-game point streak with three goals and five assists since February 23.

2018 New York Islanders second-round (41st overall) draft pick Bode Wilde extended his point streak to seven games with an assist against the Storm. Wilde is still tied for first among all OHL defensemen this season in power-play goals (9) while sitting second in both assists (49) and points (68).

Second-year defenseman Mason Millman is on a three-game point streak with five assists after going scoreless in eight straight games. The native of London, Ontario, has three goals and 22 assists for 25 points on the season.

2018 Islanders fifth-round prospect Blade Jenkins erased a six-game stretch without a goal Friday for his 22nd of the season. That goal in the second period would be Jenkins’ 100th career OHL point since being drafted by the Spirit in 2016.

2017 Florida Panthers first-round (10th overall) draft pick Owen Tippett collected the insurance goal against Guelph on the empty netter. Tippett has points in 12 of the last 14 games, is first on the team in goals (32) and second in points (66).

2018 Arizona Coyotes fourth-round goaltending prospect Ivan Prsovetov made 31 saves Friday en route to his 34th win this season. The former CHL Import Draft first-rounder has a goals against average (GAA) of 3.00 and a 0.907 save percentage (SAV%).

On special teams, the Spirit have the league’s sixth-best power play unit on 50 goals for a 23.7 percent success rate this season. The penalty kill is ranked third overall with 37 goals allowed for an 82.9 percent success rate.

London Scouting Report

With a 15-point lead of the Storm in the OHL Midwest Division, London became the first Western Conference club to secure a division title this season.

At 45 wins, 12 losses, six overtime losses and one shootout loss, the Knights have the most-highest points total in the league at 97.

London, who also became the first team in the Western Conference to clinch a playoff berth back in mid-February, is currently on a four-game winning streak after dropping three losses over the course of six games.

Overage forward Kevin Hancock was the third individual across the entire OHL to hit the 100-marker in points this season. Being drafted from the Owen Sound Attack before the trade deadline, Hancock leads the Knights in goals (50), assists (54) and points (104).

Former 2017 OHL Priority Selection first-rounder Connor McMichael is second on the team in goals (36) and points (70) while 2018 Columbus Blue Jackets first-round (18th overall) draft pick Liam Foudy yields the highest plus-minus rating of +41.

With a goals against average (GAA) of 2.90 and a 0.906 save percentage (SAV%), overage goaltender Joseph Raaymakers is fifth in the league in the former. The former second-round selection (37th overall) by Sault Ste. Marie in 2014 is tied for first in wins at 30.

On special teams, London is ranked first in the OHL on the penalty kill this season with 36 goals allowed for an 86.5 percent success rate. The Knights also have the eighth-best man-up unit with 56 goals scored for a 235 percent success rate.

Featured NHL Prospects

There will be a combined 17 players on the ice Saturday with their rights owned by NHL teams. For the Knights, it’ll be Foudy (Columbus), Jordan Kooy (Vancouver), Paul Cotter (Vegas), Alex Formenton (Ottawa), Evan Bouchard (Edmonton), Adam Boqvist (Chicago), Joey Keane (NY Rangers), Jacob Golden (Minnesota) and Alec Regula (Detroit).

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

Looking Ahead 

The Spirit wrap up their stretch away from The Dow next Tuesday at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena against the Sarnia Sting.

It’ll be the final of a six-game regular-season series between Saginaw and seventh-place OHL Western Conference Sting.

Opening faceoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (EST).

The last meeting between the West Division rivals ended in a 7-6 shootout loss in Sarnia three weeks ago for the Spirit.

Saginaw has not won on the road against the Sting this season.

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