The Saginaw Spirit (24-11-2-2) extended its win streak to six straight games following a heroic 54-save shutout performance from Saginaw goal tender Ivan Prosvetov, who led the Spirit to a 2-0 victory over the Sudbury Wolves (21-14-2-1) at the Dow Event Center in downtown Saginaw this afternoon.
This was the third shutout of the year for Prosvetov (a fourth round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in the 2018 NHL draft) who had a 19-save shutout against the Flint Firebirds on Oct 20, and a 48-save shutout against Owen Sound back on Nov 25, earlier this year, but tonight, the Russian net minder was quick to deflect any praise, giving all of the credit to his teammates.
“I just tried to do my best tonight, but my team really helped me out a lot,” a very humble Prosvetov said. “You can look at the scoreboard and see fifty shots and think it's a lot, but many of the shots were not hard shots, there were a lot from the blue line. My players did a really good job clearing the screens so I was able to see the puck a lot tonight.”
Saginaw head coach Chris Lazary was quick to admit his team had a bit of an off day today, which he noted can happen in a league like the Ontario Hockey League, which is loaded with top end talent, however, he was also quick to note that, although his team might not have been the greatest, his goal tender definitely was great today, and that was the difference.
“At the end of the day, it's no secret, we just weren't good, but Ivan (Prosvetov) was,” said a relieved Lazary. “So, if you look back at the schedule, a win's a win, but it just can't happen two games in a row. We've got a lot of work to do and it's a learning lesson for our guys. Skill is just not enough in this league to get you by, you've got to compliment that skill with hard work and detail, but we'll get better, we're not worried.”
The Spirit struck first early in the opening frame when D.J. Busdeker (10) rang one in off the left post with assists coming from Danny Katic and Jake Goldowski for a 1-0 Spirit lead at 5:44 of the first period, which would remain the games only goal until Spirit forward Ryan McLeod (13) intercepted a Sudbury pass at center ice in the final 38-seconds of the game, scoring the unassisted empty-net goal for a 2-0 Saginaw lead at 19:22 of the third period.
Saginaw seemed a bit flat today after loading up with a pair of blockbuster trades recently, but the Spirit still managed to come away with the win and Lazary observed that, in a league like the OHL, you're going to have night's where you don't always have your best, but it's important to stay focused and keep working toward your end goal.
“I was just telling the guys after the game, that last year after the trade deadline Hamilton still lost a game 10-0 and people forget that,” Lazary noted. “They lost a game 10-0 to the Soo, but they still won the league. Now, ours wasn't as bad as that, but the point is, not every night you're going to be great, even when you're a really good team. You have to find ways to win games and stay consistent, but we'll figure that out as we move forward.”
The Spirit will have a couple days off until the Hamilton Bull Dogs make a visit to the Dow for a 7:05 pm face off right back here on Wednesday night.
Video of Spirit goalie Ivan Prosvetov doing 3 cartwheels then adding some push ups for flare: