Game Day Preview: Top two teams in West meet Friday in London

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London, ON. – Two Western Conference leaders face-off on Friday, February 7 when the West Division leading Saginaw Spirit (31-14-2-2 66 pts.) travel to Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario to take on the Western Conference-leading, and CHL No. 8 ranked London Knights (33-13-1-1 68 pts.) for the final time this season.  The fourth matchup of the regular season is slated for a 7:30 puck drop.

Saginaw has the slight edge in the season series with a 2-1-0-0 record in the three matchups, however London defeated the Spirit 5-1 in the first game at Budweiser Gardens back on October 25.

Fans can catch all the action on the flagship WSGW Newsradio 100.5 FM and with the voice of Saginaw Spirit hockey Joey Battaino on the call.  “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop.

Fans can visit the Buffalo Wild Wings location at 2690 Tittabawassee Road in Saginaw and join the official “Watch Party” for all Spirit away games. Admission is free of charge.

The Spirit have won their last two consecutive games after a 6-3 victory over the Erie Otters on Saturday night at The Dow Event Center in Saginaw, Michigan.  Saginaw has been victorious in four of their last five games to extend their West Division lead to five points heading into play on Friday.

Friday’s contests will be a homecoming for London, Ontario natives Ryan Suzuki and Mason Millman of the Saginaw Spirit.

Suzuki, a 2019 Carolina Hurricanes first round pick, has been on a tear since the Saginaw Spirit acquired the centerman prior to the trade deadline.  The former Barrie Colts first overall pick has 16 points since he made his Spirit debut against Flint back on January 10.  Suzuki extended his point streak to three games with a goal in the victory over the Otters on Saturday.

The Philadelphia Flyers prospect Millman has four points in the last four games for the Spirit.  The Saginaw Spirit defenseman assisted on forward Jake Goldowski’s goal in the first period against Erie on Saturday night.  In 45 games this season, Millman has scored 12 goals with 20 assists for 32 points.

Saginaw Spirit captain Damien Giroux scored his team-leading 30th and 31st goals, the first of which proved to be Saturday’s game-winning goal over the Erie Otters.  The Minnesota Wild prospect Giroux is 10th among OHL players this season with 31 goals.

The Saginaw Spirit tallied two shorthanded goals against the Erie Otters Saturday, which gives them an OHL leading 13 shorthanded tallies this season.

Fourth rated North American 2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti extend his point streak to six games with a shorthanded goal in the first period on Saturday evening.  The Whitby, Ontario native Perfetti has averaged better than two points-per-game in the streak with 13 points in six games.  Perfetti is second among OHL players this season with 85 points, which trails Ottawa’s Marco Rossi (88) by just three points.

Saginaw Spirit all-time games leader Cole Coskey notched his 99th career OHL goal on the penalty kill in the victory over Erie, which ranks third in team-history behind Spirit alums Josh Shalla (119) and Ryan McDonough (118).  The Zion, Illinois native also dished out two assists in the game against the Otters, which tied Coskey’s season-high 63 point-output from last season.

The London Knights have won nine consecutive games since the Spirit defeated them back on January 11 at The Dow Event Center.  London is coming off a 5-2 victory over the Niagara IceDogs on Tuesday Night.

Ottawa Senators signee Jonathan Gruden provided four points to extend his point streak to eight games in the victory over the Niagara IceDogs Tuesday night.  The Rochester Hills, Michigan native has 22 goals and 33 assists for 55 points this season, which ranks third among London Knights players.

2019 New York Rangers fourth round pick Hunter Skinner notched a goal and assist against the IceDogs Tuesday.  Skinner, who hails from Pinckney, Michigan, provided five goals and 25 assists for 30 points on the backend this season for the Knights.

2018 San Jose Sharks 21st overall pick Ryan Merkley dished out two helpers for the London Knights in Tuesday’s contest.  The defenseman leads the Knights this season with 48 assists in 46 games.

Chicago Blackhawks signee Alex Regula put Tuesday’s game out of reach with an empty-net tally with 1:10 left in regulation.  The West Bloomfield, Michigan native is second among OHL defensemen this season with 18 goals.

The London Knights have nine players on their roster drafted by NHL clubs, forwards Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals-signed), Liam Foudy (Columbus Blue Jackets-signed), Jonathan Gruden (Ottawa Senators-signed), Matvey Guskov (Minnesota Wild), defenseman Ryan Merkley (San Jose Sharks-signed), Markus Phillips (Los Angeles Kings-signed), Alec Regula (Chicago Blackhawks-signed) and Hunter Skinner (New York Rangers).

London has three players listed in NHL Central Scoutings 2020 NHL Draft mid-term rankings in Antonio Stranges (39th), Luke Evangelista (58th), and Kirill Steklov (69th).

The Saginaw Spirit have a total of five players on their roster with NHL ties.  Ryan Suzuki (Carolina Hurricanes-signed), Blade Jenkins (NY Islanders), Cole Coskey (NY Islanders), Mason Millman (Philadelphia), and Damien Giroux (Minnesota).

Saginaw has two players listed in the NHL Central Scouting 2020 NHL Draft Mid-term rankings, including fourth ranked prospect Cole PerfettiIlya Solovyov is listed as the 119th North American prospect available.

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