It’s no secret that the Saginaw Spirit are having another great year. They’re fighting for the top spot in the Western Conference and are poised to make another long playoff run.
2020 NHL Draft prospect Cole Perfetti has really exploded onto the scene this year. He’s already eclipsed his season total from last year of 74 points. His high production has helped the team make another leap forward this season. With 12 points in his last four games and 97 on the year, Perfetti knows he’s improved from last season, “I’ve gotten a lot more confident with the puck. I’ve been able to slow the game down a lot more, I think when I have the puck I’ve been able to find the open guy a little bit more.”
— Saginaw Spirit (@SpiritHockey) February 16, 2020
This year, the team is younger but that doesn’t mean they’re less experienced. With most of the core group back again, Perfetti believes the team is in a good spot again this year, “We kind of buried our head and put the work in since day 1 and since training camp and we’ve been getting results, obviously, there’s a couple of games we want back but we’re in a good position right now, we’re in striking distance for the conference so we’re pretty pleased and obviously adding a guy like Bode back to the lineup it’s massive for us and kind of rejuvenated the locker room and we’re excited to keep going on this run here.”
This year, Chris Lazary and the Saginaw Spirit coaching staff have started breaking up the season into five-game segments, focusing on getting at least six points out of a possible 10 during each segment. It’s been working really well for the Spirit this season, and keeps the team motivated throughout a long year, “We get a little reward at the end of each segment so it kind of drives us to get at least six points out of a 10 point segment so we really want to get this segment here, I think we haven’t missed one all year, maybe one,” Perfetti said.
But like every good team, the chemistry on the ice is just as important as it is off the ice. With many core players back this season, the team is continuing to build on relationships from previous years and are building a great culture in and around the arena.
Defenceman Bode Wilde spoke about the culture is in the room, “We’re just dedicated to winning in the locker room, there’s no beef between any of the guys if there are any issues we try and settle it quickly and I think that’s the key just make sure everyone’s getting along and we’re all on the same page working towards the same thing.”
“I think it’s a combination of things but I think it’s just more than anything it’s just comradery and making sure everyone has each other’s back.”
Cole Perfetti echoed Wilde’s comments, “It’s been a great year with these guys, there’s a lot of talent and a lot of skill in that locker room so it’s easy to play with them night in and night out, and they make it easy putting up points and getting wins and getting results.”
🚨 IT’S HAPPENING 🚨 pic.twitter.com/HVqYT55wKh
— Saginaw Spirit (@SpiritHockey) February 10, 2020
When New York Islanders prospect Bode Wilde was returned to Saginaw by the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, it was a huge boost to their backend. The defenceman was a huge part of the Spirit team for the last few seasons and he’s happy to be back and help his team win, “I want to win. I have every intention of playing hard and pushing my teammates to do so and holding them accountable if they don’t. “
He’s not the only one in the locker room with that mentality. The Spirit came so close to the finals last year, they’re not going to let it slip through their fingers again.
GETTING OVER THE HUMP
Last year, the Saginaw Spirit made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals before losing to the eventual OHL champions the Guelph Storm in seven games. This year, they know what they have to do to go all the way, “We just need to tighten up some stuff in our game, I think we have all the pieces, we definitely do,” Wilde said, “We gotta find a way to be efficient with our bodies and our style of play because I know for one last year by the time we got to the 3rd round with all the bodies we were losing I was barely able to move towards the last few games so we just gotta figure that out and with the experience from last year I think we know what we have to do. “
The Western Conference is tough and honestly pretty wide open. The Rangers, Knights, Firebirds, and Spitfires all have talented, deep rosters. There’s no doubt it’s going to be a battle to the finish line, but the Saginaw Spirit have the experience behind them and a chip on their shoulder.