The Spirit, amazingly, closed out the pre season unbeaten with a large portion of its roster missing while attending various NHL training camps.
Saginaw forward's Cole Coskey (free agent invite to Buffalo Sabres camp), Max Grondin (free agent invite to Carolina Hurricanes camp) and Albert Michnac (free agent invite to Arizona Coyotes camp) were recently returned to the Spirit, while defenseman Caleb Everett (free agent invite to Columbus Blue Jackets camp) is nursing an injury.
However, Spirit forwards Brady Gilmour (2017 Detroit Red Wings draft pick), Blade Jenkins (2018 New York Islanders draft pick) and Damien Giroux (2018 Minnesota Wild draft pick) are also away from the team, working hard for a roster spot at their respective NHL camps, while their defensive counterparts; Riley Webb (2017 Detroit Red Wings draft pick), Keaton Middleton (2016 Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick and 2018 San Jose Sharks free agent invite) and Bode Wilde (2018 New York Islanders draft pick) along with 2018 CHL import draft pick, Spirit goal tender Ivan Prosvetov (2018 Arizona Coyotes draft pick) who are all battling for roster spots at NHL training camps as well.
With the Spirit trailing 3-2 after two periods of play, Saginaw veteran defenseman Hayden Davis (1) knotted the game with his first goal of the pre season on a nice feed from rookie Cole Perfetti and Spirit forward Aidan Prueter, which tied the game at 3-goals apiece just :48 seconds into the third period, before Michnac (2) buried the eventual game-winner, his second of the pre season, with assists from Saginaw forwards Danny Katic and Camaryn Baber for a 4-3 Spirit lead at 15:53 of the final period.
The Firebirds had managed to strike first and early tonight when Flint's top pick (No. 2 overall) in the 2018 OHL priority selection draft, Evan Vierling (1) scored his first goal of the pre season with an assist coming from RW Jack Wismer to take a 1-0 lead at 3:15 of the first period, before Firebirds forward Kyle Harris (2) extended the Flint lead later in the period with his second goal of the pre season from Riley McCourt and Eric Uba for a 2-0 lead at the 15:52 mark, sending the Spirit into the first intermission facing a daunting 2-goal (2-0) deficit.
The Spirit, under the guidance of head coach Troy Smith (who is in his second year behind the Saginaw bench) have had a habit of scoring goals in the early seconds of a period, and that trend continued tonight when veteran forward D.J. Busdeker (4) put the Spirit on the board just 70-seconds into the middle frame with his fourth goal of the pre season from Duncan Penman, cutting the Flint lead to 2-1 at 1:10 of the second period.
Saginaw defenseman Mason Millman (2) managed to even things up with his second tally of the pre season from Davis and Saginaw forward Ryan Stepien, tying the game at 2-goals apiece at 8:38 of the second period, before the Firebirds pulled ahead once again when McCourt (2) answered with his second of the pre season from C.J. Clarke, giving Flint a 3-2 lead at the 15:12 mark of the second.
Spirit goal tender Cam Lamour started the game, stopping 7 of the 9 shots he faced throughout the first 30:49 he spent in between the pipes, before fellow goal tender, Saginaw rookie Tristan Lennox finished the remaining 29:11, turning away 11 of the 12 shots he would see in net for the Spirit, while Flint goal tender Luke Cavallin stopped 31 of the 35 shots he saw in net for the Firebirds tonight.
The Firebirds will open the 2018-19 OHL regular season on the road Friday Sep. 21, with an away game against the Kitchener Rangers at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium at 7:30 pm in Kitchener, ON next week, while the Spirit welcome the powerful Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (who swept the Spirit, knocking them out of the 2017-18 OHL playoffs) for a 7:05 pm face off in the home opener on Wednesday Sep. 19, at the Dow Event Center.
Spirit players celebrate an OHL pre season victory over the Flint Firebirds: