SAGINAW, Mich. – Friday night, Saginaw Spirit fans were treated to some old time hockey at The Dow Event Center as Saginaw hosted the Flint Firebirds in the latest iteration of the Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup. In the first period, Saginaw opened up a three-goal lead off of goals from left wing Kyle Bollers (2) and defenseman Marcus Crawford. During the second period, Blade Jenkins cleaned up a rebound for the Spirit's fourth goal, Crawford netted his 2nd goal of the contest and the Firebirds recorded their lone tally. The third period, however, featured numerous penalties as both teams turned up the physicality in a game that was out of reach for Flint. Spirit center Aidan Prueter also scored in the final period.
During the opening period, Saginaw peppered the Firebirds net with shots early and often en route to establishing a three-goal lead. Bollers opened up the scoring 1:09 into the game after defenseman Keaton Middleton pinched, centered a pass to Gilmour who then found Bollers ready to shoot on an open net. Eight minutes later, Saginaw kept applying pressure throughout a successful 5-on-3 powerplay as Crawford sent a wrist shot glove-side and into the net. Bollers later tallied his second goal of the frame when he tipped a Middleton shot into the top of the Firebirds' net, placing Saginaw in the lead 3-0. Flint outshot Saginaw by a 14-13 margin during the first period.
Following a trend established in the first period, Saginaw registered another goal at the top of the second frame, this one scored by Jenkins as he cleaned up a rebound to Flint goaltender Garrett Forrest's left. This goal tied Jenkins for the team lead with 11 on the 2017-18 season. Despite a four-goal deficit, the Firebirds showed signs of life in the second period when right wing C.J. Clarke tipped a shot by Jalen Smereck in the Spirit net for a powerplay goal at the 16:17 mark. The Spirit responded with a powerplay goal of its own when Crawford sent a wrist shot to the bottom left corner of Flint's net, marking his second goal of the contest and regaining a four-goal lead for Saginaw. Both teams registered 10 shots in the second period.
In the third period, Saginaw once again found the scoreboard first when Danny Katic set Aidan Prueter up with a high-percentage backhand opportunity on the rush. Tempers flared late in the third period when multiple fights broke out between the two division rivals. Seeing Flint goaltender Garrett Forrest get involved in a scrum, Evan Cormier skated to center ice, verbally ushered back to his goal by the referee. Once the dust settled, it was Cormier who picked up his 10th win of the season with a 35-save performance. Flint posted a shot advantage of 12-5 over the Spirit in the final frame, but the Spirit won their sixth straight at home, and eighth in their last 10 games by a 6-1 score.
Applebee's Three Stars of the Game
1. Kyle Bollers (SAG) – 2G, +2
2. Marcus Crawford (SAG) – 2G, +2
3. Evan Cormier (SAG) – 35 saves
The Saginaw Spirit (11-9-3-0, 23 points, 4th in West Division) will host the Kingston Frontenacs (12-7-1-2, 27 points, 3rd in East Division) at The Dow Event Center on Saturday, November 25th.
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