Saginaw, Michigan – With significant roster changes being made this week, the Saginaw Spirit are reeling from two trade announcements that could have an outcome to the season’s end.
General Manager Dave Drinkill has demonstrated that he’ll make the necessary moves in order to make a deep run in the OHL Memorial Cup playoffs.
Currently, Saginaw is fourth in the Western Conference standings at 37 points following last night’s 6-2 home win over the Windsor Spitfires, which extended the winning streak of the Spirit to three games.
The latter of the two dealings by Drinkill saw 18-year-old goaltender Cameron Lamour dealt to the Sarnia Sting on Wednesday in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round pick (SBY) and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2022 (SAR).
Lamour, who played in 31 career games after being drafted 53rd overall in the third round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, will make his awaited return to The Dow Event Center tonight as Saginaw hosts the Sting in the annual “Teddy Bear Toss Night”. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m.
Presented by the Jayden Lamb Memorial Foundation, fans are encouraged to bring stuffed animals to launch onto the ice after the Spirit score their first goal of the game. All plush toys will be collected and donated to families and children affected by pediatric cancer.
Fans who donate new and unwrapped toys prior to game time will also be entered to win a brand new washer and dryer with the drawing occurring at the third period, courtesy of The Maytag Store.
Saturday will mark the fourth of six regular-season meetings between the Spirit and last year’s conference semi-finals runner-up. Saginaw trails in the series, 2-1, but took the most previous matchup on November 29 at home after scoring two goals.
Listen live on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk & Sports and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers. Pre-game coverage begins at 6:50 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.
At 6.02, 170 pounds, Lamour has yet to make his debut for the Sting, but could earn the start in the second of back-to-back contests. Through 34 games this season, Sarnia is sixth in the Western Conference standings at 36 points, on 16 wins, 14 losses, two overtime losses and two shootout losses.
Sarnia’s four-game home stand ended in a decisive 10-4 outpour on the Erie Otters yesterday at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena. Four goals were scored in the first and third periods by the Sting on 41 total shots, who also picked up their eighth point in five games.
The win over the Spitfires ended a six-game winless streak that dates back to last season for Saginaw over the OHL West Division rival. With a second place standing, the Spirit also trail eight points for the division lead.
A trio of Spirit players would finish with three points on Friday, including captain Damien Giroux, who earned his first multi-goal outing since October 13 when he scored the hat trick against the North Bay Battalion.
Receiving first-star honors, the Minnesota Wild prospect is one goal shy of tying the team-high with veteran Cole Coskey (15) after scoring unassisted with 2:42 left in the game and tying it at 16:58 in the first period. Giroux is sixth on the team in points (25) and 10th in assists (11).
Coskey is away vying for a spot on the 23-player list in representing the United States in the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship from Dec. 26, 2018–Jan. 5, 2019, in Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia.
Cole Perfetti had the Spirit leading by one goal just before the first intermission, improving his ranking to second among OHL rookies in goals (14) and fourth in points (25). Drafted fifth overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Perfetti also assisted on the D.J. Busdeker goal at 13:53 in the final frame.
Busdeker, who returned from a two-game suspension on November 23, has scored two goals in that timeframe while his three points against the Spitfires were the most registered in a single-game all season by the alternate captain.
Rounding out the trio was New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins from Jackson, Michigan. Drafted in the fifth round in the 2018 NHL Draft, Jenkins is tied for the third-most assists (19) by a Saginaw forward this season and is one-of-two players to surpass the 30-point mark.
With the fifth most goals (12) on the team, Jenkins would notch his fifth in five straight games at 7:09 in the third period, a run that dates back to December 1. Recently acquired trade piece Justin Murray assisted on two goals in his debut with the Spirit last Sunday in the win over the Mississauga Steelheads.
Defenseman Bode Wilde, who agreed to terms on a three-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders on December 3, currently ranks in the top-10 in points (28) and assists (21) among all OHL defensemen. Recording a goal and assist against Windsor, the 41st overall pick from the 2018 NHL Draft has had 11 games with two points or more this season.
Overage forward Albert Michnac would pick up his second multi-assist outing in three games on Wilde’s seventh goal of the season at 4:01 in the second period. Michnac has garnered six assists in four games, including two against the Erie Otters last Saturday, and is third for Saginaw in points (29).
Improving his goals against average (GAA) and save percentage (SAV%) to 3.42 and .892, respectively, was Arizona Coyotes goaltending prospect Ivan Prosvetov, who made 36 saves on Friday for his 13th win since being drafted by Saginaw in the first round of the 2018 OHL Import Draft.
Rookie goaltending Tristan Lennox has fortified the backup duties following the departure of Lamour. Recalled back to Saginaw after 11 games with the Brantford 99ers in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Lennox made his fourth appearance and second start in net this season last week in Erie, stopping 25 shots for his first career OHL win.
On special teams, the Spirit killed five penalties against Windsor, as their man-down success rate now ranks in the top-10 at 82.4 percent. The power play is seventh overall with six scored goals in the last five games.
Sarnia rookie forward Jacob Perreault leads all OHL first-year players in both goals (16) and points (29), but only ranks fifth on the Sting in the latter category, with 2017 OHL Priority Selection first rounder Hugo Leufvenius (42) leading the way.
Other Sarnia players who have surpassed the 30-point mark include 2017 Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ryan McGregor (36), 2017 Calgary Flames prospect Adam Ruzicka (35) and overager Franco Sproviero (32).
McGregor and Ruzicka have also combined for 48 assists while Leufvenius is the only member of the Sting to go beyond the 20-goals mark this season. Goaltender Ethan Langevin has a goals against average (GAA) of 3.52 and a .882 save percentage (SAV%) through 21 appearances this season. Langevin averages 24.2 saves per game on 10 wins and eight losses.
On special teams, Sarnia is ranked fifth in penalty killing with 22 allowed goals on 120 man-down situations for a 82.5 percent success rate. The Sting are 13th on the power play with 25 goals scored on 138 opportunities for a 18.1 percent success rate.
There will be a combined eight players on the ice Saturday with their rights owned by NHL teams. For the Steelheads, it’ll be McGregor (Toronto) and Ruzicka (Calgary). Defenseman Reilly Webb (Detroit), forward Brady Gilmour (Detroit), Prosvetov (Arizona), Jenkins (NY Islanders), Wilde (NY Islanders) and Giroux (Minnesota) will represent Saginaw.
The Spirit will made their way over the Detroit River tomorrow to renew their series with Windsor before undergoing a 12-day break. Puck drop is set for 2:05 p.m. at the WFCU Centre.