Sunday, December 9, 2018
Mississauga, ON – The Saginaw Spirit wrapped up a three-game road swing with four points following Sunday’s 5-3 win at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre over the Mississauga Steelheads.
Veteran Cole Coskey extended his points streak to five games after earning first-star honors with his two goals and one assist. The Spirit swept the season series against Mississauga and are riding back-to-back wins before making their way back home next week, the Spirit maintain their fifth place standing in the OHL Western Conference at 35 points.
Making his Spirit debut Sunday on the first line was defenseman Justin Murray, acquired via trade from the Barrie Colts in exchange for Ryan Stepien and a fifth round pick in 2020.
The addition of Murray was announced earlier that morning after spending three full seasons with the Colts, who drafted the 20-year-old in the eighth round of the 2014 OHL Priority Selection. This season, Murray has already tied a career-high in goals (6) for 17 points through 28 games.
Stepien concludes his tenure in Saginaw with 11 goals and nine assists in 68 career games. Drafted 41st overall in the 2017 Under-17 Priority Selection, Stepien heads to the Kitchener Rangers in the three-way trade in his second OHL season and will be eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft.
The Spirit opened the contest on a five-on-three penalty kill at 2:02 in the first period. 10 seconds into the power play, Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod recorded his ninth goal for the early 1-0 Mississauga lead.
McLeod, the former third overall pick by the Flint Firebirds in 2015, has the third most points among all Steelheads players this season. Defensemen Liam Ham and Thomas Harley were credited with the assist.
Already sitting at double-digits goals heading into Sunday, former 2015 free agent signee Alan Lyszczarczyk would finish out the blue line Spirit turnover made by McLeod for his 11th goal this season. Mississauga had a two-goal advantage at 9:31.
The sixth power play goal in the last four games for Saginaw brought the deficit down with 7:43 remaining. The league’s sixth ranked man-up unit scored just five seconds before full strength as second-year forward Nicholas Porco earned his 12th goal of the season.
Also scoring the final goal in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Erie Otters, Porco is tied with Minnesota Wild prospect Damien Giroux for the second most goals among all Saginaw players. Giroux, the captain, is fifth on the team in points (23).
Murray’s first point as a member of the Spirit was earned on the assist. Overage forward Albert Michnac has now garnered four assists since December 6, including two against Erie, and ranks third for Saginaw in points (27).
Shots on goals after 20 minutes favored Saginaw, 20-10,
Coskey tied the game two minutes into the second period for his team-high 14th goal. Assisted by rookie standout Cole Perfetti and Giroux, Coskey’s points streak dates back to November 29 in Saginaw’s home win over West Division rival Sarnia Sting.
Coskey will compete 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.
Both clubs would trade goals before the midway point of the second. The Steelheads regained the lead at 5:59 from 2018 OHL Priority Selection first rounder James Hardie’s fourth goal this season. Ham secured his second point of the night for his seven assist through 17 games.
2018 New York Islanders prospect Blade Jenkins moved into sole possession of second place among all Spirit players in points (28) with 11:52 remaining. Drafted in the fifth round, Jenkins notched his third goal in three consecutive goals for Saginaw’s second game-tying goal before the final intermission.
Murray grabbed his second assist on the Jenkins goal. The six-foot, 189-pound native of London, Ontario, was ranked #137 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in 2016 and is tied for 15th for most points (19) among OHL defensemen.
The Steelheads shot on goal 15 times in the second frame while limiting Saginaw to single-digits.
Perfetti, receiving third-star honors, was credited with his second assist on the D.J. Busdeker game-winning goal with 6:17 left in the third period. Drafted fifth overall in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Perfetti ranks second in goals (13) and third (23) in points among all league rookies.
The native of Dexter, Michigan, Busdeker’s goal was his first since returning from a two-game suspension on November 23. Busdeker has totaled seven goals and nine assists for 16 points this season. Coskey would gouge his third point of the game and 15th goal this season off the Busdeker score, later securing the win on the empty netter in the final minute of play.
Arizona Coyotes goaltending prospect Ivan Prosvetov stopped 31 shots for his 12th win and first since November 29. The 2018 OHL Import Draft first rounder has a goals against average of 3.43 (GAA) and a .892 save percentage (SAV%).
Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:
1. Cole Coskey (SAG) – 2G, A, +2
2. Ryan McLeod (MISS) – G, A
3. Cole Perfetti (SAG) – 2A, +1
Saginaw returns home next Friday, December 14, hosting the Windsor Spitfires at The Dow Event Center with a 7:05 p.m. puck drop. The Spirit look to erase a six-game losing streak to their West Division rival dating back to last year in the fourth meeting this season.
Saturday, December 15, is the annual Teddy Bear Toss game presented by the Jayden Lamb Memorial Foundation. When the Spirit score their first goal of the game, fans will throw their teddy bears or stuffed animals on the ice, which will be collected and donated.
Listen live on the flagship WSGW FM Talk & Sports 100.5 and fmtalk1005.com with Joey Battaino and Dennis Derosiers. Pre-game coverage begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:45 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.