Monday, February 11, 2008

Spirit play three tough games this week

The Saginaw Spirit was on the road last weekend for two games, beating the Guelph Storm, 4-1, on Friday and the Erie Otters, 5-1, on Saturday. The Spirit is 5-4-1-0 over the last 10 games. The team not only swept the weekend, but the four-game season series against the Otters as well.

The Spirit enter the week with 56 points and a record of 25-21-4-2.

This weekend the Spirit takes on the Windsor Spitfires on Thursday, the Plymouth Whalers on Friday and the Kitchener Rangers on Sunday.

Windsor Spitfires
February 14 - 7:30 PM
Windsor Arena, Windsor

The Windsor Spitfires continue to be a dominant force in the OHL Western Conference, in second place with 73 points and a record of 32-14-5-4. The Spits are 8-2-0-0 in the last 10 games and are 18-4-3-2 when playing at home.

The Spirit will be visiting Windsor on Thursday for their fourth matchup of the season against the Spits. The Spirit lost the first contest, 4-3 in a shootout on Oct. 4, but rebounded for a 3-2 win on Dec. 31 and a 3-0 shutout victory on Jan. 5. The Spirit are 2-0-0-1 against the Spits this season and 14-15-1-1 over the last five seasons. Ryan McDonough and Jack Combs have each tallied two goals against Windsor this season, while Ryan Daniels has backstopped the Spirit in all three contests for a 1.62 goals-against average and .951 save percentage.

Windsor has one of the highest scoring teams in the league thanks in part to the efforts of winger Bradley Snetsinger (30-45--75) and center Joshua Bailey (23-49--72). The Spits have a solid foundation in two of the top rookie scorers in the league – center Taylor Hall (28-25--53) and defenseman Ryan Ellis (13-38--51). Defenseman Mark Cundari (6-13--19) anchors the blue line with a plus-23, while goalie Andrew Engelage mans the net with a 2.62 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 37 games this season.

Plymouth Whalers
February 15th - 7:11 PM
TheDow Event Center, Saginaw

Saginaw’s rival will be in town Friday night – the Plymouth Whalers are sixth in the OHL Western Conference with 62 points and a record of 29-21-2-2. The Whalers are 5-5-0-0 in the last 10 games and are 11-12-2-2 when playing on the road.

This is the sixth contest between the two teams this season. The Whalers bested the Spirit, 4-1, on Nov. 21, but saw the Spirit drop them in back-to-back games. The Spirit won 4-2 on Dec. 27 and 6-3 on Dec. 29. Plymouth has won the last two games, 4-2 on Jan. 9, and 3-2 in a shootout on Jan. 14. The Spirit are 2-2-0-1 against the Whalers this season and 11-28-3-1 over the last five seasons. Combs has notched five goals and six assists against the Whalers this season, while the goalie tandem of Daniels (2.94 GAA and .905 save percentage in four games) and Edward Pasquale, 3.00 GAA and .903 save percentage in one game), have posted impressive numbers against the team’s chief rival.

Center Chis Terry (35-49--84) leads the Whalers in scoring and has tallied five goals and four assists against the Spirit this season. Center Andrew Fournier (31-32--63) and winger AJ Jenks (23-20--43) round out the top three scorers on offense, while defenseman Wes Cunningham (5-43--48) often contributes from the blue line. Rookie forward RJ Mahalak (1-5--6) has made an impressive showing in his first season, posting a plus-16 in 48 games. Goalie Jeremy Smith continues to prove day in and day out why he is one of the best goaltenders in the league, often a big factor when Plymouth wins. This season Smith has posted a 2.90 goals-against average and .918 save percentage in 32 games.

Kitchener Rangers
February 17th - 2:00 PM
TheDow Event Center, Saginaw

The Kitchener Rangers – the top team in league with 83 points and a record of 40-9-1-2 – will be in Saginaw on Sunday. The Rangers are 6-4-0-0 in the last five games and are 18-6-0-1 on the road.

Despite the points and the record, the Rangers haven’t been able to breeze by the Spirit this season. The Spirit beat the Rangers, 5-4, in a shootout on Nov. 18 and, courtesy of Daniels and the Spirit defense, shutout the Rangers, 2-0, on Dec. 1. Daniels has posted a 1.92 goals-against average and .934 save percentage against the Rangers this season.

The Rangers have an explosive offense featuring center Justin Azevedo (32-68--100), who recently hit the 100-point marker on the season. Center Nick Spaling (29-27--56), center Nazem Kadri (20-33--53), winger Mikkel Boedker (21-29--50) and winger Matt Halischuk (12-38--50) bolster the offense, while defensemen Dan Kelly (1-15--16; plus-21) and Alex Dzielski (5-7--12; plus-19) steady the blue line. Goalie Steve Mason, with a 2.79 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 31 games, has been called up by the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets throughout the season. However, if he is called up on Sunday, the Rangers have little to worry about in net thanks to rookie standout Josh Unice, who has earned a 2.55 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 37 games this season.

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