The Saginaw Spirit is entering its twentieth season in the Great Lakes Bay Region, and continues to thrive on and off the ice. Over two million fans have witnessed a Spirit home game from Saginaw’s The Dow Event Center since the team’s inception.
The team arrived in Saginaw in 2002 after Richard J. Garber, Owner and President of the Garber Automotive Group, purchased the team formerly known as the North Bay Centennials and moved them to Saginaw. Reinvented as the Saginaw Spirit, the team quickly became a community cornerstone.
The Spirit were part of a major commitment, on Garber’s behalf, to restore the image and economic viability of the downtown region of Saginaw. The team’s arrival helped lay the ground work for the renovations to The Dow Event Center, The Temple Theatre, Morley Plaza, the Garber Automotive Group corporate offices and the Saginaw river front, to name a few.
Craig Goslin, the team’s current President & Managing Partner, became a minority owner in 2005 and is a two-time winner of the OHL Executive of the Year award and currently is the Chairman of the OHL Board of Governors. In August 2016, the Spirit ownership group added several new partners including former NHL goaltender Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings Sr. Vice President & Alternate Governor Jim Devellano and local businessman, Brandon Bordeaux.
Since 2002, the Spirit have seen 58 players drafted by NHL teams, including 1st Round picks Cole Perfetti (2020 NHL draft, 10th overall – Winnipeg) and Matt Corrente (2006 NHL draft, 30th overall- New Jersey). Twenty-two of these players went on to play at least one game in the NHL with nine of them currently on NHL rosters, including Vincent Trocheck (Carolina), Filip Hronek (Detroit), TJ Brodie (Toronto) and Brandon Saad (Colorado). The Spirit have also produced a plethora of players who have gone on to play pro hockey at various minor pro leagues across North America, as well as the elite leagues in Europe and Russia. For a complete list of Spirit alumni still actively playing, click HERE.
The Spirit and historic events have been synonymous since their arrival to Saginaw in 2002. A brief look back in history is highlighted by the 2007 OHL All-Star Game & Skills Competition taking place at the Dow Event Center, marking the first time this event took place in an American city. The two-day, elite level talent-showcase was brimming with future NHL Superstars. Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, and Patrick Kane were among the many skaters that descended upon Saginaw to put their skills on full display at The Dow.
Then, on December 29, 2013, the Spirit took part in the first ever outdoor game in the OHL! In conjunction with the NHL’s famed Winter Classic to take place in Ann Arbor on January 1st – the OHL joined in at the Hockeytown Winter Festival at Comerica Park in Detroit – where the Spirit took on the Windsor Spitfires in front of CHL record breaking attendance of 25,749.
Inside the hallowed walls of Wendler Arena inside of the Dow Event Center, the Spirit have made winning a commonplace tradition for fans to witness in the Great Lakes Bay Region. The team has qualified for the playoffs in 13 of 17 seasons and has won the West Division three times in the franchise’s young history in the 2010-11, 2018-19, and 2019-20 seasons. Led by Head Coach Chris Lazary, the Spirit went on the longest playoff run in franchise history by advancing to the 2019-20 OHL Western Conference Final before dropping a 7-game series, and the Wayne Gretzky Trophy to the visiting Guelph Storm.