The Saginaw Spirit dropped the “I-75 divide” series opener 3-0 to the Flint Firebirds in front of 4,033 fans from both communities at the Dow Event Center tonight.
Spirit coach Greg Gilbert felt his team had many chances to win, however, as the game progressed and Flint goalie Zack Bowman continually made great save after great save, his players began to take dangerous chances trying to get back into the game.
“We came out and we played pretty well, we had some great opportunities but didn't finish,” Gilbert said. “(Zack) Bowman played really well for them, and you know, if we score early it's a different game, but we fell behind and everybody started to do things on their own and you're not going to win hockey games being individualistic and not playing as a team, and we were cheating all over the ice tonight and you're going to pay the price if you do that.”
Troy, Mi native Ryan Moore found the back of the net at 14:55 of the first period, beating Spirit goalie Evan Cormier to give the Firebirds an early 1-0 lead. The Spirit thought they had caught a bit of a break when Flint RW Connor Sills was whistled for holding at 16:47 of the first period, giving Saginaw a power play opportunity. But Flint RW Nicholas Caamano buried a shorthanded goal at 17:49 of the period, giving his team a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Flint forward Will Bitten would round out the scoring with a power play goal at 16:55 of the second period. Bowman stopped all 24 shots he faced for the Firebirds, while Cormier stopped 27-of the-30 shots he faced for the Spirit.
Gilbert was quick to point out that it's still very early in the season and the Spirit are a very young team with plenty of room to grow. He's confident they can get this group going in the right direction.
“It's a learning process with these guys,” Gilbert said. “We're still a pretty young team, we have four first-year players in our lineup. It's going to take a lot of work, we have a lot of things to correct and a lot of bad habits to break, and now we have to get everybody on the same page and playing the right way.”
The two teams will get together and do it all again Saturday night when they head 34-minutes south down I-75 to the Dort Federal Credit Union Center in downtown Flint for the Firebirds home opener. Face off is set for 7:30 Saturday night.