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Spirit earn third victory of the season over Firebirds, 4-2

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Photo Credit: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Flint, Michigan – The Saginaw Spirit took Game 3 of the Coors Light I-75 Divide Rivalry in Wednesday’s 4-2 win at the Dort Federal Event Center over the Flint Firebirds.  

On the heels of a 7-1 loss Sunday to OHL West Division foe Windsor Spitfires, the Spirit captured their fourth road win for 24 points this season to remain in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, two points behind second-place Owen Sound Attack and London Knights. 

Second-year forward Nicholas Porco scored his team-leading 10th goal this season with 5:25 into the opening frame for the early Spirit lead. Midway through the first power play of the game, 2018 New York Islanders second-round selection Bode Wilde’s shot bounced off Flint goalie Luke Cavallin, with Porco cleaning it up right in front of the crease for his 18th point this season. 

Wilde, who returned from injury on November 9 in Saginaw’s win over the Mississauga Steelheads, recorded his first multi-point performance in the four games after suffering an upper body setback. Through 14 games played, the defenseman has notched three goals and 14 assists for 17 points. 

Wilde collected his second assist with 7:56 remaining as his shot from the blue line missed the net. But Aidan Prueter, a 2017 second-round selection by the Spirit, was able to grab the puck behind the net for the one-time wrap around pass to Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins for the 2-0 lead. 

Jenkins, a native of Jackson, Michigan, has scored eight goals for 15 points through 11 career games played against the Firebirds, while Preuter has finished with one point in three of the last four games, including a scored goal in the 5-3 home win over the Soo Greyhounds. 

Flint would cut the deficit with 5:42 remaining from Ethan Keppen’s sixth goal this season from the assist by Marcus Gretz. Keppen was taken 10th overall in last year’s OHL Priority Selection by the Firebirds. 

The Spirit finished with 21 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. 

Just before the game was back to even strength in the first minute of the second period, rookie forward Cole Perfetti, making his return to the Spirit after taking part in last week’s 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Saint John and Quispamsis, New Brunswick, brought Saginaw’s lead back to two at the 19:06 mark. 

Perfetti led all players in the tournament with seven assists and second in points with nine as a representative of Team Canada White. Head coach Troy Smith and assistant coach Ryan Kuwabara also made their way back to the bench after serving as an assistant for Team Canada Black and video coordinator for Team Canada White, respectively. 

Perfetti, taken fifth overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, scored his ninth goal this season in his first game back since October 28. The Whitby, Ontario, native ranks third among all league rookies with 13 points. Minnesota Wild prospect Damien Giroux and 17-year-old defenseman Mason Millman each earned an assist off Perfetti’s tip-in. 

The Firebirds responded again on their first power play of the game. A cross-ice pass from Hunter Holmes to Jake Durham made it 3-2 with 5:59 left for the latter’s 11th goal this season. Durham is the only Flint player to have double-digit goals and is currently on a five-game scoring streak. 

Jenkins completed his first single-game multi-goal outing of the year with 2:23 into the final 20 minutes from D.J. Busdeker‘s eighth assist this season. The insurance goal brought Jenkins’ total to five in the last six games since November 3 in Saginaw’s shootout win over the Guelph Storm. 

Saginaw goaltender Ivan Prosvetov picked up his eighth win and made 26 saves. The Arizona Coyotes prospect has a goals against average (GAA) of 3.36 and a .880 save percentage (SAV%) through 15 appearances in his first season with the Spirit. 

Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:

1. Blade Jenkins (SAG) – 2G

2. Bode Wilde (SAG) – 2A 

3. Mason Millman (SAG) – 2A 

The Spirit conclude a three-game road trip on Friday, November 16, against the Kitchener Rangers. Saginaw won in overtime, 4-3, with overager Albert Michnac scoring the game-winner in its first visit to the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium back on October 5. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers will have the call on FM Talk and Sports 100.5 and fmtalk1005.com.

The Spirit return home Saturday to face the Windsor Spitfires at 7:05 p.m. 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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