Recap: Spirit top line combines for eight points in victory over Hamilton

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Tippett scores goal, three assists, Perfetti scores two goals, assists in five goal opening period for Spirit

Hamilton, ON – The Saginaw Spirit defeated the defending Ontario Hockey League Champion Hamilton Bulldogs, 6-3 Saturday evening to sweep the season series.  Eight first period goals sparked a wild night in Hamilton as the Spirit tied a season-high for five goals in one period.

Saginaw first round pick Cole Perfetti scored two goals to break former Detroit Red Wing Jan Mursak’s single-season Spirit rookie goal record.  Perfetti leads all Ontario Hockey League (OHL) rookies in both goals (29) and points (61).

Florida Panthers first round pick Owen Tippett collected second-star honors with four-point effort.  Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov made 21 saves in relief to shut down the Bulldogs.  All but four Saginaw Spirit players collected points in the victory.

Saginaw had a chance to take a lead in the opening minute of play.  Jackson, Michigan native Blade Jenkins set up D.J. Busdeker on a two-on-one rush.  The Dexter, Michigan native Busdeker’s short-side wrist shot rang off the post.

Saginaw right-winger Jake Goldowski opened the scoring 6:39 into the first period for his 11th goal of the season.  The Thornhurst, Pennsylvania native used his speed to split two Bulldogs defenders and roofed a wrist shot past Hamilton goaltender Nick Donofrio.

Spirit alternate captain Busdeker collected the primary assist on the goal to extend his season-high point-streak to seven games.

Hamilton even the game up less than a minute later with Jan Jenik’s ninth goal of the season.  Top 2019 NHL Draft prospect Arthur Kaliyev’s shot off a face-off rebounded to Jenik.  The Czech forward roofed a backhand shot over Saginaw’s net-minder Tristan Lennox.

The Spirit regained the lead just under three minutes later with Nicholas Porco’s 19th goal of the season.  Off an offensive zone face-off, overager Albert Michnac sent a pass over to Porco at the top of the right circle.  The 2019 NHL Draft prospect sniped a wrist shot past the Bulldogs net-minder.

Again, the Bulldogs quickly answered the Spirit goal when Jenik scored his second goal of the game.  The Hamilton center took a perfect wrist shot from the left face-off dot over Lennox’s glove hand.

Hamilton took their first lead of the game less than a minute after the second Jenik goal.  Overage center Eric Henderson redirect a D.J. King shot for his 13th goal of the season.

Arizona Coyotes prospect Ivan Prosvetov came on in relief of Lennox after the Henderson goal.

Just over a minute later, Saginaw tied the game at three with Cole Perfetti’s 28th goal of the season.  2017 Florida Panthers 10th overall pick Owen Tippett fed the puck to Perfetti behind the Hamilton net.  Perfetti pulled the puck to the front of the net and roofed a shot over Donofrio’s shoulder.

Perfetti, a 2018 OHL fifth overall pick of the Spirit, broke the Saginaw single-season rookie goal scoring record with the goal.  The record was previously held by former Detroit Red Wing Jan Mursak, who scored 27 goals in 2008-09 for the Saginaw Spirit.

The Spirit once again pulled ahead of the Bulldogs less than a minute later.  Perfetti set up New York Islanders signee Bode Wilde for a one-timer from the left face-off circle.  Wilde’s bullet one-timer squeaked through Donofrio’s five-hole for his 16th goal of the season.

Wilde, a second-round pick of the Islanders, became the first Saginaw defenseman to score 60 points in a season since Detroit Red Wing Filip Hronek.  Hronek scored 61 points for the Spirit during the 2016-17 season.

Rookie Zachary Roy replaced Ypsilanti, Michigan native Donofrio in net after the fourth Saginaw goal.

Perfetti added his second goal of the game to give Saginaw a two-goal lead with just over a minute remaining in the first period of play.  Edmonton Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod fed a beautiful pass to Perfetti in the slot.  Perfetti one-timed the McLeod pass over Roy’s sliding pad.

Peterborough, Ontario native Tippett assisted on the final three Saginaw Spirit goals in the first period.  The Spirit right-winger has been on fire with 16 points in the last nine games.

The Saginaw Spirit tied a season-high with five goals in the first period.

The second period of play was highlighted by physicality and goaltending.

Prosvetov made 10 saves in the second period of play to keep the Spirit ahead by two goals.  The Russian goaltender stoned Jenik’s hat-trick bid point blank five minutes into the period.

The rebound was collected by Philadelphia Flyers prospect Matthew Stome, who attempted to wrap the puck around the Spirit net.  Prosvetov held his glove hand along the goal-line to deny Strome’s goal attempt.

Roy kept the Bulldogs in the game in the second period with timely saves.  Jenkins, a New York Islanders prospect, was denied on a breakaway by a quick glove save by Roy to keep Hamilton within two goals.

The Bulldogs outshot the Spirit, 19-17 through two periods but Saginaw took a 5-3 lead into the second intermission.

Wilde’s showed off his skating ability early in the third period in attempt to extend the Saginaw lead.  The Plymouth, Michigan native stick-handled around Hamilton defenders to open space at the point and set up defenseman Justin Murray for a one-timer.  The overager’s heavy one-time shot was deflected into the corner by Roy’s pad.

The teams skated four-on-four after roughing minors to both teams, Prosvetov once again stoned Strome in close.  After Kaliyev set up the Philadelphia Flyers fourth round pick all alone in the slot.  Strome’s deke attempt was denied by Prosvetov to keep the score, 5-3 in favor of Saginaw.

Tippett added an empty net to complete the Spirit forward’s strong four-point night.  Jenkin’s strong play was awarded with the assist on the goal.

The Spirit held the OHL’s third-best power play scoreless in three man-power advantages.

Applebee’s Three Stars of the Game:

  1. Cole Perfetti (SAG) 2G, A +2
  2. Owen Tippett (SAG) G, 3A +3
  3. Jan Jenik (HAM) 2G

The Spirit finish the Eastern Conference road swing Sunday, February 24 against the Oshawa Generals.  Puck drop is set for 6:05 p.m. as the Spirit look to revenge a 5-1 home loss to the Generals just over a week ago.  The last meeting of the season between the two teams is highly anticipated as the tempers flared at the end of the game of the first matchup.

Fans can follow all the action on the flagship WSGW 100.5 FM Talk and Sports and with Joey Battaino and Dennis Desrosiers on the call.  “Countdown to Face-off” begins 15 minutes prior to puck drop for all your pregame coverage.

Fans can watch the game live from the Saginaw Spirit “Watch Party” from the 2690 Tittabawassee Road Buffalo Wild Wings location.

The Spirit return to The Dow Saturday, March 2 when they take on the Kingston Frontenacs for Hockey for the Homeless Night presented by Rescue Mission.  The Budweiser Red Room will host a Rescue Missionaries presentation prior to the game at 5:30 p.m. and a post-game jersey auction after the game’s completion.

It will be the final meeting of the season between the Spirit and the Frontenacs with puck drop set for 7:05 p.m.  Saginaw came up with a convincing victory in the first meeting against the Kingston, 7-1 on the road.

To purchase tickets to any Saginaw Spirit home game call (989) 497-7747, visit, or by visiting the Saginaw Spirit Store at 5789 State Street, Saginaw, MI.

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