Guelph, ON – The West Division leading Saginaw Spirit (42-15-2-3 89 pts.) begin a three-game road trip Friday, March 8 against the Guelph Storm (36-16-6-4 82 pts.) in a clash between two Western Conference powers. The Spirit take on two of the top four teams in the Western Conference, on Friday and Saturday, and face possible first round playoff opponent, Sarnia on Tuesday.
Saginaw comes into Friday’s game in first place in the West Division and second in the Western Conference behind just the London Knights. The Spirit have a two-point lead over the Soo Greyhounds in the West Division standings with a game in-hand.
Puck drop for the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Spirit and Storm is set for 7:30 p.m. The first two meetings have needed overtime in very tightly contested matchups. Saginaw will look to even up the season series after dropping two of the games.
Fans can follow all the action on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call. “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop for all your pregame coverage.
Fans can watch the game live from the Saginaw Spirit “Watch Party” from the 2690 Tittabawassee Road Buffalo Wild Wings location.
Friday’s game will feature two of the hottest teams in the Ontario Hockey League. Saginaw has won the last six straight games and Guelph is on a current league best seven game winning streak.
The Spirit are coming off a dominant performance against the Peterborough Petes, 8-0 at home.
Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov collected his fourth shutout of the season, good for third among OHL goaltenders. The Russian goaltender is second among OHL goaltenders with 33 wins this year, behind just Sudbury’s Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.
Saginaw 2018 first round pick Cole Perfetti comes into the game riding a seven-game point streak. The Whitby, Ontario native has points in 20 of the last 22 games with 15 goals and 18 assists.
The Saginaw rookie was named February’s OHL rookie of the month after scoring 21 points in 12 games. Perfetti leads all rookie scorers in both goals (31) and points (66).
2017 Florida Panthers 10th overall pick Owen Tippett has points in six of the last seven games. The Spirit sniper is tied with Perfetti and Cole Coskey for the Spirit lead with 31 goals this season.
Overager Justin Murray has been a stellar addition to the Spirit backend this season. The former Barrie Colts captain leads the Spirit with a plus/minus of plus-30. Since the Murray acquisition, Saginaw has lost only four times in 33 games.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Brady Gilmour has points in his last four games (two goals, two assists).
Gilmour is just a point away from tying Mitchell Stephens for 17th all-time in points among Spirit players. The Grafton, Ontario native is one goal away from passing Kris Bennett for sole possession of 17th all-time in Saginaw goal scorers.
Rookie Ethan Cardwell has impressed in his last two games for the Spirit scoring three goals. The 2018 second round pick of the Spirit scored his first OHL goal in his first game with Saginaw earlier this season.
The game on Friday will feature two of the top man-power advantages in the OHL. Saginaw has converted on 23.9% of the man-power advantages, good for seventh in the OHL. Guelph’s fourth ranked power play has converted at a 25.6% clip this season.
New York Islanders 41st overall pick Bode Wilde is a main reason the Spirit power play has been so dangerous. The Plymouth, Michigan native leads all OHL defensemen with nine power play goals this season.
Wilde has points in the last six games, including goals in five of the games. The defenseman leads the Saginaw Spirit in both assists (48) and points (67). Wilde had a goal and assist in the victory over the Peterborough Petes.
Dallas Stars prospect Liam Hawel leads the Storm with 12 power play goals through 60 games this season. Hawel has been good against Saginaw this season with a goal and five assists in the three meetings.
Arizona Coyotes third round pick Nate Schnarr leads all Guelph players in assists (65) and points (96) this season. The Waterloo, Ontario native has two goals and four points in three games against the Spirit this year.
2017 Philadelphia Flyers 35th overall pick Isaac Ratcliffe leads the Storm with 47 goals this season. The London, Ontario native comes into the game riding a seven-game point streak. Ratcliffe had three assists in the last game against the Spirit.
Guelph general manager George Burnett was very active before this years OHL trade deadline. The storm brought in Montreal Canadiens signee Nick Suzuki, Chicago Blackhawks prospect MacKenzie Entwistle, and Los Angeles Kings prospect Sean Durzi before the January 10 deadline.
Suzuki, a 2017 first round pick of the Vegas Knights, has 41 points in just 23 games for the Guelph Storm. The London, Ontario native’s NHL rights was traded by Vegas earlier this season to the Montreal Canadiens in the Max Pacioretty trade.
Guelph has 11 players with rights owned by NHL teams, forwards Cam Hillis (Montreal Canadiens), Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens – via trade with Vegas), MacKenzie Entwistle (Chicago Blackhawks), Alexey Toropchenko (St. Louis Blues), Liam Hawel (Dallas Stars), Nate Schnarr (Arizona Coyotes), Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia Flyers), defensemen Dmitri Samorukov (Edmonton Oilers), Sean Durzi (Los Angeles Kings – via trade with Toronto), Markus Phillips (Los Angeles Kings), and Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs).
The Spirit 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).