Spirit are 3-0 this preseason; Host Firebirds Saturday at The Dow Event Center
Saginaw, Michigan – Less than a week before the Saginaw Spirit open the 2018-19 campaign at home against last year’s OHL Champion runner-up, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, the fourth annual Coors Light I-75 Divide Rivalry Series returns Friday with the Spirit playing guest to the Flint Firebirds.
The first-of-two preseason matches between the Michigan-based clubs before the regular-season, this weekend marks the first time these rivals have met since Feb. 17, when the Spirit took a 5-3 win from the Dort Federal Event Center.
Saginaw earned at least one point in each of the eight meetings last year, including four victories on home ice. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. inside the Flint Iceland Arenas, with Saturday’s exhibition at the Dow Event Center commencing at the same time. $7 General Admission tickets are on sale now.
Elation continues to brew in the 10 days following three consecutive wins in three days at the 2018 Preseason Showcase in Kitchener, Ontario, picking up a combined 11 goals and even recording a 3-0 shutout on Aug. 31 against the North Bay Battalion.
Saginaw wrapped up the round-robin series with a convincing 3-1 win over the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats, a day after scoring five goals on the host, Kitchener Rangers, who put on the tournament for the first time ever, deriving it similar to the OHL Preseason Showcase introduced in Buffalo, New York, last year.
What was earned after the Labor Day weekend was the Spirit tying the Ottawa 67’s with the third most OHL players (11) being invited to various NHL training camps, including both center Brady Gilmour and defenseman Reilly Webb. The pair took part the 2018 NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City earlier this week as representatives of the Detroit Red Wings and will continue their experience at main camp this week.
Right winger Cole Coskey, center Max Grondin, and left wing Albert Michnac have already returned to the Spirit after excellent showings with the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, and the Arizona Coyotes, respectively. Left winger Blade Jenkins and defenseman Bode Wilde remain on Long Island as they get further acclimated with the New York Islanders, who picked up the two in the 2018 NHL draft.
The Firebirds recently celebrated the drafting of center Ty Dellandrea in the first round by the Dallas Stars with the 13th pick. It’s the highest any Flint player has been selected in previous drafts.
Luke Cavallin enters his second season with Flint in net, averaging 4.19 goals against per game with a .872 save percentage after being the highest goaltender taken in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.
Flint is expecting a major contribution from forward Evan Vierling, the second overall draft pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, who notched 27 goals and 36 assists with the York Simcoe Express Minor Midget AAA hockey team in the Ontario Hockey Minor Association-Eastern Toronto Area (OMHA-ETA).
The Firebirds won two-of-three exhibition games at the Preseason Showcase at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, securing a 5-2 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs and overcoming a two-goal deficit to beat the Erie Otters, 4-3.
The Spirit host the Firebirds Saturday evening at The Dow Event Center. Tickets are General Admission and only $7. To purchase, call (989) 497-7747 or visit the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State St. in Saginaw.