The Saginaw Spirit cruised to an 8-5 victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs in front of 3,118 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
The Spirit 'A-S-K' line continues to fill up the scoring sheet. Artem Artemov, Dylan Sadowy, and Matthew Kreis have accounted for 11 Saginaw Spirit goals over the past five games, giving them a confidence that is spreading to the other lines, which Kreis hopes will help build into a strong playoff run.
“Over the last couple games our line has really been clicking,” Kreis said. “We've all been working hard and Artemov has been been putting the puck in the net which has really helped our confidence as a unit.”
Second year forward Tye Felhaber has also caught fire as of late, scoring his third goal in as many games tonight while adding one helper. Felhaber now has 4-goals and seven assists for 11-points over his last six games, earning praise from his veteran teammate, Kreis.
“He's been red-hot lately,” Kreis said of Felhaber. “He has the skill and he's one of the top forwards on the team and having success now can show him that he has the potential to be a future NHL draft pick, and help us make a run in the playoffs.”
Despite a 4-1 lead after one period, Spirit coach Greg Gilbert felt this game could have easily gone in another direction. Goal tender Evan Cormier faced 16 unnecessary shots in the first period, giving Hamilton too many quality scoring chances.
“Thank goodness for Corm's (Evan Cormier) early or we would have been in trouble,” Gilbert said. “We could have been down two-or-three goals early and had to battle back. We were blowing out of the zone before we had the puck, turning pucks over in the slot, and exposing our goal tender to point-blank shots. I mean, they had eleven grade-A's in the first period alone, and we've had entire games where we haven't given up eleven. So, to me, that's just mental preperation throughout the course of the day on how we are going to play and obviously we just didn't do a very good job of that.”
Kris Bennett paced Saginaw with 2-goals and 1-assist, while captain Connor Brown also found the back of the net twice for the Spirit tonight. Artemov and rookie Cole Coskey each had a goal and an assist respectively, while Kreis also found the back of the net tonight. Gilbert noted it's nice to see Artemov, Sadowy, Kreis, Bennett, Brown, Coskey, and Felhaber producing offensively, but a balanced, defensive-minded team is what he would ultimately like to see.
“We need those guys to contribute, we need everybody to contribute,” Gilbert said. “We want four lines that are capable of scoring, but we also want to have four lines and three-sets of defensemen that are going to play solid defensively first and foremost. You know, it's coming, but we've got a lot of things to work on before we are a complete team.”
“We've got to learn from this and we've got to be a lot better night-in and night-out, but that's part of the team that we have -a fairly young team. You know, the toughest thing mentally, is to do the same things over and over every night that give you success. Everybody is so tempted, they want points and all this stuff, but they don't realize the damage that is done by creating bad habits.”