Coming off a pair of tough road losses (5-3 to Ottawa on Sun, and 8-2 to Guelph on Wed) the Saginaw Spirit (31-14-2-2) closed out a 5-game road trip with a win to take a commanding 6-games-to-none lead in the 2019 Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup Series with a 4-2 victory over the Flint Firebirds (9-39-3-0) at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, MI tonight.
The Spirit jumped out to an early lead just past the 4-minute mark in the opening frame when rookie Cole Perfetti (21) was slashed on a breakaway resulting in a penalty-shot, which Perfetti converted for his twenty-first tally of the season with a nice deke on Flint goal tender Emanuel Vella to give the Spirit a 1-0 lead at 4:08 of the first period.
Saginaw defenseman Justin Murray (10) followed with his tenth goal of the season when he squeezed a wrist shot from the point, through some screens and past Vella with assists coming from Albert Michnac and Camaryn Baber for a 2-0 Spirit lead at 15:41 of the first, before the Spirit added a shorthanded goal while killing a late first period penalty when PK specialist D.J. Busdeker (12) turned on the jets, picking up a pass which was chipped off the boards by Damien Giroux, as Busdeker zipped behind the Flint defense and scored on the breakaway for a 3-0 Saginaw lead at the 18:59 mark of the first.
The Firebirds would respond early in the middle frame when Flint LW Ethan Keppen (18) scored his eighteenth goal of the season with assists coming from Jack Wismer and Riley McCourt to cut the Saginaw lead to 3-1 just 1:47 into the second period, however, the Spirit managed to expand its lead back to three goals later in the second when Baber (4) went top-shelf, scoring his fourth goal of the season on a pinpoint accurate wrist shot from the left dot with an assist from Bode Wilde for a 4-1 Spirit lead at 13:05 of the second period.
Flint would add another goal late in the final frame when Wismer (11) scored on a nice feed from Dallas Stars' first round pick (13th overall) in the 2018 NHL draft, Ty Dellandrea, cutting the Saginaw lead to 4-2 at 15:11 of the third period.
The Spirit and Firebirds will get right back at it when the in-state rivals meet up for the seventh time this season in the back end of a home-and-home with a 7:05 pm face off at the Dow Event Center tomorrow night.