Spirit overcomes Battalion 6-1
SAGINAW, Mich. — Rookie Blade Jenkins scored three goals, including the winner, as the Saginaw Spirit skated to a 6-1 victory over the North Bay Battalion in an Ontario Hockey League game Saturday night.
Damien Groulx provided one goal and two assists, while Cole Coskey and Caleb Everett had a goal apiece. Goaltender Evan Cormier faced 23 shots before 3,030 at The Dow Event Center.
Saginaw has a won-lost-extended record of 6-8-2 for 14 points, tied for fourth place in the West Division with the Flint Firebirds and holding a game in hand. The Spirit prevailed 6-5 in overtime Friday night against the London Knights, posting its first win at London since Jan. 17, 2014, to end a run of six losses at Budweiser Gardens.
Luke Burghardt scored the lone goal and goaltender Christian Purboo faced 32 shots for North Bay, which completed the two-game Michigan segment of a three-game road trip. The Battalion is 6-9-2 for 14 points, fourth in the Central Division.
Coskey, with assists to Daniil Vertiy and Marcus Crawford, scored a team-leading ninth goal of the season on the power play 31 seconds into the third period to give the Spirit, the former North Bay Centennials franchise, a 5-1 lead, and defenceman Everett skipped a right-point shot past Purboo at 8:21 to complete the scoring.
Saginaw, which led 1-0 after 20 minutes, scored two early second-period goals, with Jenkins swiping the puck home from the right side of the crease at 1:18 after the Troops failed several times to clear the zone along the boards. Jenkins struck again at 4:24, backhanding the rubber under Purboo from almost the same spot.
Burghardt replied with the man advantage at 7:07. Cormier denied Adam Thilander from deep in the left circle, and the rebound went to Burghardt at the right side for his seventh goal. Brett McKenzie had the other assist.
Jenkins scored his seventh goal at 16:01, deflecting home a left-point shot by Hayden Davis on the short side. Jenkins has a four-game scoring streak in which he has six goals, while also adding one assist. A product of Jackson, Mich., he was Saginaw’s first-round pick, fourth overall, in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection from the Detroit Compuware Under-16s.
Giroux scored his eighth goal on the power play at 8:23 of the first period, firing the rebound of a shot by Brady Gilmour past Purboo on the blocker side from the goalmouth.
Alex Robert had the Battalion’s best chance off a left-wing faceoff, getting the puck alone in front and spinning to shoot, only to have Cormier sprawl and cover up.
The Battalion visits the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 2:07 p.m. Sunday. The game can be heard live on Country 600 CKAT.
BATTALION BULLETS: With the Spirit wearing camouflage-accented white-based sweaters and socks specific to its Military Appreciation Night, the Battalion reverted to its standard green sweaters and socks for pre-January road games after wearing white in a 5-1 victory Friday night at Flint … The Battalion has an all-time won-lost-tied record against Saginaw and the predecessor Centennials of 18-20-1 in 39 games, the fewest against any opponent. The Troops haven’t had a losing season against the Spirit since 2011-12, before relocating to North Bay from Brampton … Burghardt scored for the first time since Sept. 27 in a 6-5 overtime verdict over the visiting Sudbury Wolves, ending a goals drought of 13 games … The Troops’ Justin Brazeau saw the end of an eight-game run in which he had 10 goals and three assists for 13 points, going without a point once in that span. He had six goals in the previous four games … The Battalion went 1-for-4 on the power play. Saginaw was 2-for-5 … North Bay was without Travis Mailhot, Simon Rose, Patrick Brown, Brandon Coe and Christian Propp … Cormier is a onetime member of the Battalion, while Vertiy, traded to Saginaw on Oct. 16 for a conditional 15th-round pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, faced his former teammates for the first time … The Troops spent two nights at Saginaw before busing to Sault Ste. Marie after the game … The referees were Jason Faist and Ben Moser.