The Saginaw Spirit (13-13-3-2) extended its winning streak to four games with a 3-1 victory over the Flint Firebirds (15-15-0-2) at the Dow Event Center tonight.
With the win, Saginaw (31-points) improves its record to .500 for the season and now trails rival Flint (32-points) by just one point in the OHL standings for the eighth and final western conference playoff spot.
Spirit head coach Spencer Carbery is happy to finally get his first I-75 Divide Cup Series win of the season. The Spirit are now just a win from tying the season series, which Flint leads with a 2-1 advantage after winning the first two meetings.
“We're on the board with a win in the I-75 divide cup series,” Carbery said following tonight's game. “Important game for us, to establish ourselves against Flint, they've had our number early in the season and this was a good team win for us tonight.”
Leading the way for the Spirit tonight was veteran forward Hayden Hodgson, who is coming of an amazing offensive week where he scored 7 goals, and 2 assists (9-points) in just three games, earning him player of the week honors in the 60-team Canadian Hockey League which spans the three Canadian Major Junior-A hockey leagues (OHL, WHL, and QMJHL).
“I've never been named CHL player of the week,” Hodgson said. “So, that's a nice little feather in the cap and hopefully we can keep it going from here.”
The Spirit had a rocky start to the season, winning just 2 of its first 15 games, with Hodgson scoring just 3-goals and 5-assists during that time. The Spirit, however, have now won 11 of its last 16 with Hodgson adding 15-goals and 11-assists (26-points) in those 16-games.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound sniper from Leamington, ON says he's been using his size to get in the open for more quality shots and he's getting a few lucky bounces as well.
“I've been starting to score a little bit and my confidence is coming back,” Hodgson said. “I'm holding onto pucks a little longer, using my body and using the time I have to get my shot off, and I've also gotten a few lucky bounces and now it seems things are starting to go my way.
D.J. Busdeker (2) scored his second goal of the season early in the game while showing some nice hustle on the forecheck behind the net, as he beat Flint goal tender Connor Hicks with a wrap-around goal at the 2:01 mark of the first period. Cole Coskey and Keaton Middleton assisted on the goal.
Spirit defenseman Marcus Crawford (3) scored the eventual game-winner with a blast from the point for his third of the season, a power play goal with assists from Brady Gilmour and Hodgson at 18:37 of the second period.
Spirit goal tender Evan Cormier had another premium night for the Spirit stopping 30 of the 31 shots he would face in net tonight.
It's a Boxing Day tradition
(Dec. 26) in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland to feature Rugby Union
and Premier League Soccer
matches throughout the United Kingdom; while Commonwealth nations like Canada feature the IIHF U-20 WJC. Others; such as Austrailia, New Zealand, and Soth Africa will feature Test Cricket
matches on Boxing Day. .
The Spirit will head north to take on the Soo Greyhounds at the Essar Centre Friday night before returning to the Dow Event Center Sat. to host a very tough Sarnia Sting team for a 7:05 pm face off.