The Saginaw Spirit (9-13-2-2) are clicking on all cylinders heading into its Farewell To The Joe game against the Windsor Spitfires tomorrow afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.
The Spirit dominated the visiting Niagara Ice Dogs (9-13-3-2) with a 5-1 victory in front of 3,042 fans at the Dow Event Center tonight.
Despite missing defensemen Robert Proner and Markus Niemelainen to injuries tonight the Spirit are actually looking the most balanced it has been this season.
With the recent return of Brady Gilmour from the concussion protocol and the addition of free agent forward D.J. Busdeker who logged some quality minutes with some really good scoring chances tonight, the Spirit now have three very good lines who are all buying into coach Spencer Carbery's system.
The Spirit got off to a great start, out shooting the Ice Dogs 19-2 in the first period led by Gilmour (8) who scored his eighth of the season from Mitchell Stephens and Hayden Hodgson at 4:41 of the first period.
Stephens (11) then scored his eleventh of the season from C.J. Garcia and Marcus Crawford at 10:42 of the first period for a 2-0 Spirit lead heading into the first intermission.
Niagara answered with a goal to make it 2-1 early in the second period, closing the shots on goal gap as the Spirit out shot Niagara 12-10 in the second period.
Spirit defenseman Filip Hronek (Detroit Red Wings second round pick, 53 overall in the 2016 NHL draft) proved his value at both ends of the ice early in the third when he gained possession of the puck with a couple nifty moves in his defensive zone, then turned up ice to orchestrate a beautiful pass to Hodgson who found Kris Bennett (5) for his fifth goal of the season at 2:24 of the third period for a 3-1 lead.
Hodgson (10) scored his tenth of the season from Keaton Middleton and Bennett at 7:58 of the third and Gilmour (9) scored his second of the night from Hodgson and Stephens while on the power play at 11:15 of the third to round out the Spirit scoring.
Spirit goal tender Brendan Bonello turned in another stellar performance earning his second win in as many appearances as he stopped 19 of the 20 Niagara shots he faced in goal for the Spirit tonight.
Hodgson led the offense with four points tonight (a goal and 3 assists) while Stephens added a three point night (a goal and 2 assists) and Gilmour added his two goals.
The Spirit will round out its third game of the week against the Windsor Spitfires tomorrow afternoon with the Farewell To The Joe game at 4 pm at Joe Louis Arena in Downtown Detroit.