SAGINAW, Mich. – On Saturday night, the Saginaw Spirit (18-13-3-0) hosted the Flint Firebirds (11-22-3-0) for the fifth game in the Coors Light I-75 Divide Series. Previous to Saturday night’s game the Spirit were leading the Firebirds 4-0 in the series and had won the previous five games against their archrival. This season marks the third series between the two teams, and Flint has won the cup the previous two years. For the first time in franchise history the Spirit won the I-75 Divide Cup behind a two-goal effort from Kyle Bollers and 36 saves from New Jersey Devils prospect Evan Cormier.
The Spirit opened up the game with two great scoring opportunities in the first three minutes of play. Their effort paid off when a shot from the right side by Hayden Davis was deflected off the skate of Kyle Bollers. The redirection off Bollers’ skate was too quick for Firebird goaltender Luke Cavallin to react making the score 1-0 at 3:59 of the first. Kyle Harris was posted in front of Evan Cormier and managed to tie up Damien Giroux scoring the ‘Birds first goal of the game at 13:02 of the period. Saginaw’s first penalty had fans roaring in disagreement. Within seven seconds a penalty was called on the Spirit giving the Firebirds a 5-on-3 advantage. A hard slap shot from the point by Detroit, Michigan native Jalen Smereck gave Cormier some issues and Connor Roberts was in front of the net to bang in the loose puck.
Saginaw came back out onto the ice on a mission. After just 42 seconds, Kyle Bollers tied the game 2-2 on his 2nd goal of the evening. Detroit Red Wings prospect Brady Gilmour made a great wrap pass to set up the Spirit second tally. With four minutes remaining in the second period, the Spirit’s leading goal scorer Cole Coskey dangled around the Flint defenseman and roofed a backhand over the glove of Cavallin. The Spirit took a one goal lead into the locker room and outshot the Firebirds 11-5 in the second period.
The third period gave Spirit the boost they needed to claim the cup. Seconds after a Spirit penalty expired, Ryan Stepien scored Saginaw’s fourth goal of the game. Just 15 seconds later, D.J. Busdeker pulled back for a wrist shot to sink one past Cavallin at 8:50 in the third. Blade Jenkins wrapped up the game with a top-shelf goal to put the Spirit in the driver’s seat. The Spirit took the victory over Flint, 6-2.
This game marked the Spirit’s sixth consecutive win against the Firebirds dating back to last season. With the win, the Spirit were presented the Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup after accumulating the appropriate amount of wins to secure the trophy.
Applebee’s Three Stars of the game:
1. Kyle Bollers (SAG) – 2G, +2
2. Blade Jenkins (SAG) – 1G, 1A, +2
3. Cole Coskey (SAG) – 1 G, +2
The Saginaw Spirit (18-13-3-0, 39 points, 4th West Division) will take on the Sarnia Sting (25-9-2-0, 52 points, 2nd in the West Division) at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena on Wednesday January 3rd at 7:05 p.m. The Spirit’s next home game is on Friday January 5th against the Erie Otters (11-19-5-1, 28 points, 5th in the Midwest Division). The first 1,000 fans will be going home with a Spirit toque sponsored by Health Alliance Plan. The puck drops at 7:05 p.m.
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