Saginaw blanks Battalion

KITCHENER, Ont. — D.J. Busdeker, Brady Gilmour and Bode Wilde scored a goal apiece to lead the Saginaw Spirit to a 3-0 victory Friday over the North Bay Battalion in the Ontario Hockey League exhibition opener for both teams.

Saginaw goaltender Cameron Lamour faced 24 shots, while Joe Vrbetic in the North Bay net produced 36 saves after being made a second-round pick in the OHL Priority Selection last April.

It was the first game in the Preseason Showcase which makes its debut at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Complex this year.

Saginaw outshot the Battalion 18-8 in the scoreless third period, limiting the Troops’ comeback opportunities.

Gilmour and Wilde scored in the second frame to push the Saginaw lead to three goals, with Gilmour striking unassisted at 7:15 after Pacey Schlueting mishandled the puck in the mid slot as the lone man back. Gilmour grabbed it and raced in alone to beat Vrbetic between the legs on a deke.

Defenceman Wilde connected at 15:47, sweeping across the goalmouth and lofting the puck high into the net on an assist by Ethan Cardwell.

Saginaw forged a 14-7 edge in first-period shots but emerged with just a 1-0 lead on Busdeker’s goal at 17:56. Braden Henderson turned over the puck along the boards to Vrebtic’s right, and Blade Jenkins fed Busdeker for a snap shot from the left-wing circle.

Vrbetic produced several stellar stops, flashing the glove to snag a Camaryn Baber drive from close range at 11:01 and denying Danny Katic at the left post in the 13th minute. In the 14th, Vrbetic dropped the right pad to stymie Cole Coskey on an in-tight jamming effort.

Egor Postnov failed to convert a Henderson rebound in front of Lamour in the third minute, and Brandon Coe sidestepped a defender in the eighth, putting the puck past the short side off Lamour’s left arm only to have the disc cross the crease just outside the goal line.

Assistant coaches Scott Wray and Adam Dennis ran the Battalion bench while head coach Stan Butler watched from a suite.

The Battalion, facing a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team for the first time, plays the Moncton Wildcats at 2 p.m. Saturday and the Kitchener Rangers at 2 p.m. Sunday.

BATTALION BULLETS: The showcase tournament, in its first year, is in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation. The Battalion participated last season in the inaugural OHL Pre-Season Showcase at The HarborCenter next to KeyBank Arena, home of the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres. That showcase is in its second year … Opening line combinations featured Kyle Jackson centring left winger Brad Chenier and right winger Coe, Kyle Potts pivoting left winger Postnov and right winger Andy Baker and Patrick Brown centring left winger Luke Moncada and right winger Rhys Forhan. Cameron Peters centred left winger Harrison Caines and right winger Kurtis Evans … Defence pairings were Nick King with David Maier, Simon Rose with Payton Vescio and Henderson beside Schlueting … Jackson, Postnov, Peters, Caines, Maier and Vrbetic made their OHL debuts … Christian Propp backed up Vrbetic … The Battalion was without Travis Mailhot, Daniel Walker, Justin Brazeau, Matthew Struthers, Adam McMaster and Christian Purboo … Potts wore the captain’s ‘C’ with Chenier and King the alternates … The Troops arrived at Kitchener on Thursday and held an evening practice … The Spirit is the former North Bay Centennials franchise … Saginaw, which wasn’t assessed a penalty, went 0-for-2 on the power play.

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