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Recap: Spirit claim top spot in West Division with 5-3 victory over Greyhounds

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Sault Ste. Marie, ON – The Saginaw Spirit scored five consecutive goals Wednesday in the 5-3 win over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

Saginaw finishes the five-game road swing with nine of a possible 10 points and has jumped the Greyhounds for first place in the Ontario Hockey League West Division with the tiebreaker advantage.

Both teams are at 85 points through the latter half of February.

The Spirit have not led the division since the 2018-19 opener, coming back from a 12-point difference when the hiring of Chris Lazary was made official on November 18, to now also sit in second place in the OHL Western Conference.

The Greyhounds grabbed the opening goal at 2:38 in the first period.

A wrist shot over the left shoulder of 2018 Arizona Coyotes fourth-rounder Ivan Prosvetov would be the ninth goal of the season for second-year winger Zach Trott.

Prosvetov received the start after his 40-save outing against the Oshawa Generals in the overtime winner Sunday.

The set up behind the net from second-year forward Camaryn Baber to overager Albert Michnac in the slot tied the game with 3:20 left before intermission.

Michnac, the native of Prague, Czech Republic, is on a three-game points streak and would become the seventh Saginaw player to reach the 50-points mark for this season.

The Spirit ended the period leading 2-1 after Detroit Red Wings prospect Brady Gilmour recorded his 11th point and fifth goal of the month.

It’s the 131st point of Gilmour’s four-year career with Saginaw as he now ties Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad for 20th all-time in Spirit history in points.

No penalties were issued to either club after 20 minutes.

Saginaw went ahead by two when captain Damien Giroux found the left side of the net 1:05 into the power play.

Giroux, the Minnesota Wild prospect, notched a career-high 44th point with his 26th goal of the year in the early going of the second period.

2018 New York Islanders second-round (41st overall) pick Bode Wilde picked up his 63rd point on the secondary assist. Wilde is ranked third among all OHL defensemen in assists this season.

The Spirit, who endured 3:11 on the penalty kill in the second, scored their fourth unanswered goal with 1:21 to go.

Second-year forward Nicholas Porco became the sixth Saginaw player to surpass the 20-goal mark in 2018-19. It’s the second-recorded goal this season against the Greyhounds for the Sault Ste. Marie native.

Porco, Gilmour, Michnac and Owen Tippett each finished with two points on the night.

Tippett, the former 2017 Florida Panther tenth overall pick, timed the pass perfectly to Reagan O’Grady for the open net opportunity at 1:20 in the third. The breakaway goal was O’Grady’s ninth of the year and second in four games. The assist gave Tippett his 64th point of the season, giving him the team lead.

Sault Ste. Marie scored two straight in the final two minutes from second-year forward Cole MacKay and 18-year-old defenseman Robert Calisti.

Prosvetov made 20 saves en route to his 32nd win in 47 appearances this season.

The former 2018 CHL Import draft first-rounder has a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.07, 0.905 save percentage (SAV%) and is averaging 27.3 saves per game.

The final shots on goal favored Saginaw, 29-23.

Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Nicholas Porco (SAG) – G, A
  2. Brady Gilmour (SAG) – G, A, +1
  3. Albert Michnac (SAG) – G, A, +2

The Spirit return to The Dow Event Center on Saturday following a two-week absence as they host the Kingston Frontenacs at 7:05 p.m. (EST).

It’ll be the final of a two-game regular-season series between Saginaw and last-place OHL Eastern Conference Frontenacs.

Listen live on OHLLive.com, the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk & Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers. “Countdown to Faceoff” with host Domenic Papa starts at 6:50 p.m. (EST).

Fans are encouraged to bring any canned food items or donate $1 as part of the eighth annual Hockey for the Homeless Game. A donation will be made eligible to be entered to win a prize courtesy of Fox Sports Detroit.

$13 upper-level fundraising tickets are available online with $5 from every purchase going back to support the Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan.

Former 2014 Priority Selection tenth-round (195th overall) pick Ryan Cranford leads Kingston in goals (15) and points (36) as well as second in assists (21).

In 42 appearances, former Spirit goaltender Brendan Bonello has compiled a record of 7-33-1-0 with a goals-against average (GAA) of 4.21 and a 0.884 save percentage (SAV%).

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.

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