Spirit fall 5-1 on the road to the Guelph Storm

Still missing 6 of their top 8 players, the Spirit will look to get on track in the home opener Saturday night....

    icon Sep 24, 2016
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The Saginaw Spirit dropped a 5-1 decision to the Guelph Storm at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, ON tonight, kicking off the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League season with an 0-2 record after a shutout loss to the Flint Firebirds 4-0 Wednesday evening as well.  


There is always some disparity in the OHL this time of year as teams like the Spirit, who have  many of their top players away at NHL camps while some teams have full rosters. The Spirit are competing without six of their eight best players who have been busy at NHL training camps. 


Overage Spirit forward Kris Bennett returned from the New Jersey Devils' NHL training camp where he was a free agent invitee, along with veteran defenseman Marcus Crawford, who recently returned from Nashville Predators camp, also as a free agent. 


Mitchell Stephens (Tampa Bay Lightning 2015 second round draft pick), Markus Niemelainen (Edmonton Oilers 2016 third round draft pick), Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings 2016 second round draft pick), Keaton Middleton (Toronto Maple Leafs 2016 fourth round pick), Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils 2016 fourth round draft pick), and Tye Felhaber (Toronto Maple Leafs free agent invitee) are still competing to make their respective NHL roster. 


Guelph would jump out to an early lead when Matt Hotchkiss scored at 7:36 of the first period for a 1-0 lead. Luke Burghardt followed with the eventual game winner just 51 seconds later at 8:27 of the first period. The Storm would make it a 3-0 game when Liam Stevens scored at 1:51 of the second period. 


Spirit veteran Mike Davies scored his -and the team's- first goal of the season at 4:29 of the second period, with assists from Bennett and second year forward Cole Coskey.


Coskey is another valuable Spirit player who just returned to Saginaw today after competing in the CCM/USA Hockey All American Prospects game Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. The game featured 42 of the best American hockey players (from the NCAA, OHL, USHL, and High School) who are eligible for the 2017 NHL draft. 


Guelph's Nate Schnarr scored a shorthanded goal at the 15:00 minute mark of the second period and Stevens added his second tally of the night, a power play goal at 8:23 of the third period following a Max Grondin penalty for slashing. 


The Storm would dominate just about every aspect of the game, winning the face off battle 27-24, out-shooting the Spirit 39-36, while going 1 for 3 on the power play compared to the Spirit, who were 0 for 4 on the power play. 


Spirit goal tender Brendon Bonello -who only appeared in 3 games for the Spirit last year, spending the majority of the 2015-16 season playing with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens of the OJHL- stopped 34 of the 39 shots he faced between the pipes for the Spirit tonight.  


The Spirit will look for its first win of the 2016-17 OHL season when they host this same Storm team for the home opener at the Dow Event Center tomorrow night for a 7:05 pm face off. 



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