By Mike Palko @PikeMalko
Photo: Flint vs. Saginaw in 2015-16 (SITM file)
The Saginaw Spirit lost 4-0 to the Flint Firebirds during another round of the Divide Cup on OHL Opening Night at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint.
Saginaw and Flint will meet eight times this season, and each team has a new coach: The Spirit are now led by Spencer Carbery, the 2014 ECHL Coach of the Year, and the Firebirds are now directed by Ryan Oulahen, an OHL alum and former captain of the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL (Red Wings affiliate).
In 2015-16, Flint fired, rehired, and then again fired John Gruden, causing a bit of a stir within the organization.
With five players at NHL camps, one being Mitchell Stephens, the Spirit struggled to keep up with the Firebirds, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead after Ty Dellandrea and Ryan Moore scored in the first period.
Problems continued in the second period for goaltender Brandon Bonello, who gave up goals to Nicholas Caamano and Moore -- each of them finished the night with a plus-4 rating. Bonello stopped eight of 12 shots before making way for Cameron Lamoure, who played roughly 33 minutes, stopping each of the 14 shots he faced.
Saginaw defenseman C.J. Garcia, winger Hayden Hogsdon, center Kris Bennett, defenseman Marcus Crawford and defenseman Rocky Kaura each had two shots on goal.
Contrary to the score, the game was close in some areas. Flint barely out-shot Saginaw, 26-24, and each team won 28 faceoffs. The ability to manufacture offense was obviously in favor of the Firebirds, but the Spirit -- which went 0-for-5 on the power-play -- certainly had its share of chances to produce.
Saginaw travels to face the Guelph Storm on Friday and then returns home to the Dow Event Center to host Guelph this Saturday night at 7:05pm.