Players, ice, and fans of the Saginaw Spirit get a fresh start with the return of OHL
The Saginaw Spirit has done a tremendous job in the last 19 months in advancing players to the next level in an organization aimed to improve players' prospects.
Too good, I suppose.
When the Spirit return to the ice Saturday for the first time in 19 months, they'll be without seven players from the last time they played, on March 8, 2020. 21 players have graduated to other leagues from that team, which has won its last seven games and the West Division title.
Saginaw will take the ice at 7:15 p.m. The Spirits first game since the COVID epidemic ended the 2019-20 season and cancelled the entire 2020-21 season on Saturday at The Dow Event Center.
Its been 19 months and were all excited to start again, Saginaw president Craig Goslin said. Its our 20th year, our 19th season of hockey. Were going to be young, but well be talented.
Saginaws roster heading into Saturday's game has 14 players who have yet to play in an OHL game.
But the faces arent all that new when the Spirit takes the ice.
The ice itself is new, thanks to a new rink plant that includes the pipes and machinery that create and maintain the icy surface during scrimmage.
The system we had was the original one from 1972, Dow Event Center general manager Jon Block said. There had been changes and repairs along the way, but it was the original 1972 ice system, he added.
It was to the point where the coolant lines would leak in certain locations, so youd have pools of coolants under the ice. Those spots would take longer to freeze, so there would be spots on the ice that would remain water.
The replacement of the ice system was part of a 2020 millage that was approved for Dow Event Center repairs, including the roof, the parking ramp, and the skating system.
Its a state-of-the-art system that probably cost about $1 million, with new chillers and mechanics involved, Block said. Every spot was 15 degrees, which is the ideal temperature, when we went around and checked the ice temperature. With the old system, you would have variations of 5 to 7 degrees.
Fans may not notice, but the players will definitely notice. It will also help us do things on-ice between periods since it won't take as long to freeze. To look back from the Zamboni and see everything freezing with the new system was a wonderful sight, said Nakamura.
The ice itself will look the same.
Its a state-of-the-art system that is incredibly powerful, Goslin said. I dont know if we will have the best ice in the OHL because other teams have similar systems," he added. I can honestly say, There is no better.
In the 2021-22 season, there is another improvement for Saginaw Spirit supporters. The dasherboard system at The Dow Event Center was replaced by the dashboard.
Its the same system that was used for the Vancouver Olympics, Block said. There's much more to it, so the collisions will be much better for fans to see, but they'll be significantly safer for players, he added. It is designed to absorb the impact from the dasherboard system as well.
Fans will notice that a collision on one side of the ice shakes the glass on the other side, so dont place your beer on ledge. A collision on the ice will knock it off. The other nice thing is that every part of the glass structure is clear, including the connectors between the glasses. There are no obstructions to views.
Goslin hopes that it all contributes to a more enjoyable experience for fans and fewer mistakes for the players.
Weve been waiting for the new system, the newest boards, Goslin said. I think that with our coaching staff, community support, billet families, facilities, schools, and facilities... we have become a destination spot in the OHL that young players and their families want to be part of, he said.
The Spirit are the last OHL team to begin the season, with most teams having a one-week head start and some already getting in three games. Erie will have played two games when it takes the ice Saturday.
Fans who will be attending Saturdays game will notice some other changes, many of them because of the COVID epidemic.
If you come, we ask that you bevaccinated and wear a mask, but there is no mandate, Block said. We aren't requiring anyone to wear a mask or show vaccination cards. Were merely asking for your understanding and that of other fans.
Fans who do not feel well are also being asked not to come to the game. If youre not feeling well, you arent helping anybody by coming to the game.
The Event Center has also taken other measures to make the facility as COVID-safe as possible.
Staff at Dow Event Center have been sanitizing high-touch surfaces with electrostatic sprayers around the arena. Block said workers will also increase ventilation, with additional disinfection of the ventilation units.
Fans may also buy mobile tickets for the game. Fans may choose to have tickets downloaded to their phones if they purchase tickets on the Saginaw Spirit website or at the Sakaw spirit store. Tickets purchased at the Dow Event Center will remain physical tickets.
Because of the work on the Dow Event Center parking ramp, fans are directed to other lots, such as the 400 lot across from the Event Centre (400 Johnson), the Delta College lot (corner of Jefferson and Johnson) and Commerce Tower (515 N. Washington) as well as Michigan Works (312 E. Genesee).
Josh Bloom, C; Dalton Duhart, LW; Camaryn Baber, RW, Davis Codd,RW); Mitchell Smith, D; Roberto Mancini,D; Tristan Lennox,G.
Ryan Suzuki (Chicago, AHL), Sebastian Bulovs (Caledon, OJHL) and Ethan Cardwell (Barrie, OH), DJ Busdeker (Rockford, UHL, Blade Jenkins (Bridgeport, IHL," says Danny Katic (University of Toronto), Jake Goldowski (JHT, Finland), Cole Coskey (Broridge, Ontario), Nicholas Porco ( Barrie), OHL (Stockton), A.K. Perfetti (Winnipe
Calem Mangone, RW; Dean Loukus,RW, Sebastien Gervais,LWB; Charlie Fink,RLWA; Matyas Sapovaliv, C; Evan Klein, LWW
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