2019-20 OHL Season Review: Saginaw Spirit

All things considered, the 2019-20 OHL regular season was a campaign to remember for the Western Conference Saginaw Spirit. Not only did the team cement themselves as the top team in the West Division, but they also took it one step further and finished the year as one of the top three teams in the entire league. If that wasn’t enough, they also housed one of the league’s top point-getters and future top-ten pick in the NHL draft.

Without any further ado, let’s dive into the season that was for the 2019-20 Saginaw Spirit.

2019-20 Saginaw Spirit Overview

Ending the season 41-16-3-2, the Spirit finished the year as champions of the West Division. Although the year was cut short, Saginaw’s rule atop the division was never really in jeopardy. The second-place Flint Firebirds trailed the Spirit by five points while the third-place Windsor Spitfires sat 11 points back.

In terms of the Western Conference, Saginaw finished in the second spot. Five points separated them from the West’s best team, the London Knights, and they would have had difficulty usurping them.

When it came to scoring goals, the Spirit did so in bunches. As a team, Saginaw posted 289 of them, good enough for second-most in the OHL. Five separate players recorded 20 or more goals while three reached the 30-plus mark and one scored over 40.

When it comes to being a successful organization, depth scoring certainly helps. Even if players are finding the back of the net over 20 times a season, it’s helpful to get a bunch of players over the ten-goal milestone. Saginaw accomplished just that with six players recording between ten and 20 goals.

As for allowing goals from the opposition, Saginaw was more of a middle of the pack team. Through 62 games, the Spirit allowed 225 goals against. The seventh-fewest in the league. As one can imagine, goaltending wasn’t really a strength. Both Marshall Frappier and Tristan Lennox accrued over 30 games played and neither of them managed a save percentage over .900.

Tristan Lennox of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

When it came to special teams, Saginaw was better off playing regular five-on-five. The Spirit was not effective on the man-advantage, capitalizing on just 19.7% of their opportunities. For a team so high in the standings, it is peculiar to see them towards the bottom in terms of powerplay efficiency. In terms of the PK, “average” is the best word to describe Saginaw. The Spirit killed below 80% of their penalties, placing in that middle group.

Standout Players

When it comes to identifying star players on Spirit, one cannot start a list without the mention of Cole Perfetti. The 2020 draft-eligible forward absolutely dominated the OHL with 37 goals and 74 assists. His 111 points were second only to Ottawa’s Marco Rossi, who posted an astound 120 points in just 56 games. Perfetti also trailed Rossi in assists but led all Spirit players in that category.

With 111 points, it’s challenging to imagine Perfetti not leading Saginaw in every major offensive category. However, he didn’t. The title of top goal-scorer belonged to recently signed Minnesota Wild prospect, Damien Giroux.

The former fifth-round pick lit the lamp an astounding 44 times, giving him the seventh-most in the league. In regards to goal scoring, Perfetti came in second behind Giroux but another player sat closely behind him.

20-year-old, Cole Coskey, posted his second straight 30-plus goal season for the Spirit, finishing the 2019-20 campaign with 34 tallies. Between Giroux, Perfetti, and Coskey, the trio combined for 115 of their team’s 289 goals. That’s almost 40% of the goals scored by one team.

Saginaw Spirit and NHL prospect Cole Pefetti
Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Luke Durda/OHL Images

Final Takeaways

Unfortunately, 2019-20 will always be the season of “what could have been” for the Saginaw Spirit. Although their overall goaltending situation didn’t match up to the likes of the London Knights and Ottawa 67’s, there’s no denying that the team could have ridden their stacked roster to the J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions.

With Giroux and Coskey definitely out of the picture next season, it’s unclear what the overall makeup of this team will be. Although he will be selected in the early stages of the NHL Draft, it is likely that Perfetti will be back for one more season so they do have that going for them. Still, they have plenty of time to worry about the roster for next season. For now, they can simply look back at the 2019-20 OHL season proud of their accomplishments.