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Preview: Spirit wrap up regular season with Sunday matinee in the Soo

Sault Ste. Marie, ON – The Saginaw Spirit finish the regular season on the road against the West Division rival Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Sunday, March 17.  The eighth meeting of the season is set for a 2:07 p.m. puck drop.

The Spirit are locked into the Western Conference’s second seed and will play the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) playoffs.

Saginaw clinched the West Division crown Thursday with a point in overtime versus the Soo Greyhounds.  The Greyhounds hold the third seed in the Western Conference heading into the post season.

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.

The Spirit hold the head-to-head edge coming into Sunday’s match-up with a 4-2-1-0 record against the Greyhounds this season.

Saginaw will look to finish the regular season on a high note after dropping their last two game to Sault Ste. Marie and London, respectively.

2018 Saginaw Spirit fifth overall pick Cole Perfetti continued the stellar play throughout his rookie OHL campaign.  The young phenom leads all OHL rookies in goals (37) and points (74).

The Whitby, Ontario native opened the scoring against the Knights Saturday after batting the puck out of mid-air.  Perfetti had one of the most successful rookie seasons in Spirit history setting the Spirit rookie record for goals in a single season.

Perfetti, along with Florida Panthers signee Owen Tippett and Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod make up one of the most dangerous lines in the OHL down the stretch.

Tippett, the 2017 Florida Panthers 10th overall pick, has lived up to his high draft spot since coming to the Spirit via trade.  The Peterborough, Ontario native is currently tied with Perfetti for the Saginaw team-lead with 74 points.

The right-winger has showed off his play-making ability with the Spirit.  Tippett has 27 assists since the acquisition, nearly doubling his total with the Mississauga Steelheads.

McLeod, a second-round pick of the Oilers, has been a solid in both ends of the ice with Saginaw.  The Mississauga, Ontario native has a plus/minus of plus-18 since the trade after being a minus-12 before the trade deadline with the Steelheads.

Spirit captain Damien Giroux comes into Sunday’s game riding a three-game point streak.  The Minnesota Wild prospect scored Saginaw’s lone goal against the Greyhounds in overtime thriller Thursday.  Giroux collected career-high totals in goals (30) and points (51) this season.

Dexter, Michigan native D.J. Busdeker is also having a career-year with the Spirit this season.  The Saginaw alternate captain set career marks in goals (15), assists (33), and points (48).  After starting the 2018-19 campaign slow, Busdeker has been one of the Spirit’s most consistent offensive contributors down the stretch.

Overager Justin Murray has been an underrated acquisition by Spirit general manager Dave Drinkill this season.  Murray came over from the Barrie Colts midway through the season and has solidified the Saginaw backend.

The former Barrie Colts captain has been a plus-23 for the Spirit along with quarterbacking one of Saginaw’s power play lines.  Sunday’s game will be Murray’s final OHL regular season game in his career.

Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov is fifth in the OHL with a 2.94 goals against average.  The Russian goaltender is third in the OHL with 36 wins this season, behind just Niagara’s Stephen Dhillon and Sudbury’s Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.  Prosvetov has eclipsed 40 saves in a game seven times this season.

The Spirit and Greyhounds have two of the top offensive defensemen in the OHL.

Saginaw’s Bode Wilde is third among all OHL defensemen in goals (19), assists (51), and points (70).  The 2018 New York Islanders 41st overall pick has 23 multi-point games this season for the Spirit.

The Soo’s Mac Hollowell leads OHL defensemen with 24 goals and 76 points this season.  The Toronto Maple Leafs fourth round pick has two goals and six assists against Saginaw through seven games this season.

2017 Philadelphia Flyers first round pick Morgan Frost leads the Greyhounds with 108 points this season.  The Soo alternate captain was serving a three-game suspension and did not play in the last match-up against the Spirit.  Frost leads the OHL with 71 assists this season and is third in the OHL in points (108).

2018 fifth overall pick of the Arizona Coyotes Barrett Hayton scored the overtime game winner in Thursday’s game against Saginaw.  Hayton has scored in all three games he has played against the Spirit this season.  The Peterborough, Ontario native has hit career-high totals in all three major offensive categories.

Former Detroit Red Wings draft pick Jordan Sambrook is the second Greyhound in the top-15 in scoring among OHL defenseman.  The overage defenseman has a career-best 16 goals and 32 assists this year for the Greyhounds.

Los Angeles Kings third round pick Matthew Villalta is fifth among OHL goaltenders with 33 wins this season.  The Soo net-minder led the league in the 2017-18 season with a 2.58 goals against average.

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).

The Spirit begin the 2018-19 post season Thursday evening against the Sarnia Sting at the Dow Event Center.  Puck drop for game one is set for 7:05 p.m.  The Spirit took the season series against the Sting with a 3-2-0-1 record.

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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