The Saginaw Spirit came up short in front of the season's largest crowd of 5,071 at the Dow Event Center Saturday losing a 7-4 decision to the Kitchener Rangers. Kitchener LW Brandon Robinson -who has relatives with deep hockey roots in Saginaw- scored the eventual game winner for the Rangers.
Robinson, a 6-foot-3 inch 216 pound left wing from Pickering, ON scored the eventual game-winnng goal at 11:25 of the second period to give the Rangers a 5-4 lead which they would never relinquish.
Robinson's mother, Mary (Loiacano) Robinson is the daughter of Jeanne and the late Jack Loiacano who owned the famous Papa Aledio's restaurant on N. Michigan Ave. which was a favorite post-game hangout for many hockey fans during the Gears, Generals, and Hawks' era of hockey in Saginaw.
“I've heard a few stories from my parents about hockey in Saginaw back in those days but for the most part I'm not that familiar,” Robinson said. “I do have a lot of special memories of going to Spirit games with my uncle Jack and my aunt's and cousin's when I was little. We would usually come to Saginaw and visit family and try to catch a Spirit game right around Boxing Day.”
His parents met while his father, Kevin -who was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1983 NHL entry draft- was playing for the Saginaw Generals during the 1985-86 IHL hockey season.
The elder Robinson went on to a professional career playing for the Milwaukee Admirals, Flint Spirits, and Saginaw Generals before marrying Brandon's mother. Kevin and Mary eventually put down roots in the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, ON starting a family where Kevin coached his son's travel hockey teams while working for the City of Toronto.
Robinson, in his final OHL season, is one of the leaders on a Rangers team in third place in the western conference of the OHL with a strong record (30-6-4-0) and one of the favorites to win the 2016 memorial cup.
“We have a lot of guys who have been together for a number of years and everything seems to be coming together this year,” Robinson said. “We're a very tight-knit team with great chemistry and hopefully we can bring a championship to the city of Kitchener.”
Coming off a 20014-15 campaign where he finished second on the team in points (54) 25-goals and 29-assists through 62-games, he is back on that pace again this season with 21-points (11-goals and 10-assists) through 27-games.
The Spirit will be back in action Sunday afternoon where they will host the Windsor Spitfires for a 4:00 p.m. afternoon game at the Dow Event Center.