Monday, February 25, 2008

Saginaw at home for three this week

The Saginaw Spirit swept their last weekend series with wins over the Brampton Battalion, the London Knights and the Oshawa Generals. The Spirit enter the week in eighth place in the OHL Western Conference with 64 points and a record of 29-23-4-2.

This week will find the Spirit taking on the Kingston Frontenacs on Wednesday, the Belleville Bulls on Friday and the Windsor Spitfires on Saturday. All three games will take place at TheDow Event Center in Saginaw, with a start time of 7:11 p.m. The Spirit are 16-12-0-0 at home.

The Spirit are playoff bound for their third consecutive season. The team clinched their post-season spot following a victory over the Knights last Friday.

The Spirit are currently in eighth place with 64 points. They are two points behind the seventh place Sarnia Sting (64 points) and three points behind the 6th place Guelph Storm (67 points). If the post season started this week, the Spirit would be facing the Kitchener Rangers in the first round.

Kingston Frontenacs, February 27th, 2008; 7:11 PM TheDow Event Center, Saginaw
The Spirit are set to faceoff against the Kingston Frontenacs in the game that was rescheduled from November. The Frontenacs are fighting to get into the post-season, currently in ninth place in the OHL Eastern Conference with 38 points and a record of 18-37-0-2. The Peterborough Petes are in eighth place with 51 points. The Frontenacs enters the week following a 7-4 win on Sunday over the Petes, the team’s first victory in Kingston’s newly-built K-Rock Centre.

The team lost a lot of veteran talent to trades this year, including winger Cory Emmerton, defenseman Jonathan Sciacca and Ben Shutron and goalie Jason Guy. Center Nathan Moon (26-32-58), winger Matthew Kang (25-27-52), center Bobby Mignardi (15-27-42), winger Josh Brittain (22-19-41), and center Andris Dzerins (17-23-40) have posted solid numbers up front, combining for 105 goals. Defensemen Justin Wallingford (5-34-39) and Taylor Doherty (3-9-12) filled the gap left by Sciacca and Shutron. Goalies Mavric Parks and John Murray, both former Kitchener Rangers, have shared time in net for the Frontenacs.

The Spirit last saw action against the Frontenacs on Oct. 19 in what would be a 7-1 win thanks in part to a Tyler Murovich hat trick.

Belleville Bulls, February 29th, 2008; 7:11 PM TheDow Event Center, Saginaw
The Spirit host the Belleville Bulls on Friday in what could be an exciting matchup featuring several former teammates squaring off against one another. The Belleville roster includes former Saginaw players Nigel Williams, Jan Mursak and Parker Van Buskirk. On the other bench, the Spirit roster now boasts former Bulls players Brendan Taylor, Kyle Tront and Edward Pasquale. The Bulls are currently the top team in the OHL Eastern Conference with 88 points and a record of 41-12-4-2.

Wingers Matt Belesky (40-43-83) and Bryan Cameron (66-33-66), who both notched a goal against the Spirit earlier in the season and tallied hat tricks in games last weekend, are at the forefront of an impressive offensive lineup featuring veteran winger Adam Perry (28-45-73), center Shawn Matthias (27-44-71) and Mursak (16-47-63). The Bulls defense is one of the best in the league, allowing only 153 goals this season (less than three goals per game on average). Defenseman P.K. Subban (7-34-41) and Williams (13-26-39) often chip in from the blue line while defensemen Geoff Killing (1-7-8) and Shawn Lalonde (9-19-28) have posted high figures in the plus/minus category with a plus-31 and plus-30, respectively. Goalie Mike Murphy is the reigning OHL Goalie of the Month, and has posted a 2.26 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in 43 games.

The Spirit lost an overtime battle to the Bulls earlier in the season, 3-2, on Oct. 6. Rookie Jordan Szwarz tallied a goal in the effort.

Windsor Spitfires, March 1st, 2008; 7:11 PM TheDow Event Center, Saginaw
The Spirit will open the month of March with a game against the Windsor Spitfires. The Spitfires are currently in third place in the OHL Western Conference with 76 points and a record of 33-15-6-4.

Rookie center Taylor Hall (31-27-58) and defenseman Ryan Ellis (13-40-53) have taken the league by storm in their rookie season, quickly becoming a critical part in the Spitfires play this season. Winger Bradley Snetsinger (30-47-77) is the team’s leading scorer, and has tallied three goals against the Spirit this season. Center Joshua Bailey (24-49-73) and winger Greg Nemisz (26-26-52) round out the team’s top five scorers. Defenseman Mark Cundari (6-14-20 ) leads the Spitfires D-men with a plus-24 and Andrew Engelage has started in net 38 games this season, earning a 2.12 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage.

The Spirit are 3-0-0-1 against the Spitfires this season and are riding a three-game win streak against their West Division rivals. Jack Combs has notched three goals against the Spitfires this season, with Ryan McDonough and Tomas Zaborsky each scoring two goals. Goalie Ryan Daniels has compiled an 1.71 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage against the Spitfires this season.

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