|League||Ontario Hockey League|
|Home arena||Dow Event Center|
|Colors||Midnight blue, red, silver, white and yellow|
|General manager||Dave Drinkill|
|Head coach||Chris Lazary|
|1943–1947||St. Catharines Falcons|
|1947–1962||St. Catharines Teepees|
|1962–1976||St. Catharines Black Hawks|
|1976–1982||Niagara Falls Flyers|
|1982–2002||North Bay Centennials|
The Saginaw Spirit is a major junior ice hockey team based in Saginaw, Michigan. They are members of the West Division of the Western Conference of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), one of the Major Junior leagues of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).
The Saginaw Spirit were born when Dick Garber, the owner of several local automobile dealerships, purchased the North Bay Centennials and moved the team to Saginaw after the 2001–02 season. Saginaw Spirit was named by an elementary school student attending Handley Elementary after a contest was held to name the new coming team.
The team traces its roots back to St. Catharines, Ontario, where it played as the Falcons, Teepees, and Black Hawks from 1943–1976. It won two Memorial Cup championships as the Teepees, in 1954 and 1960. In 1976, the franchise moved to nearby Niagara Falls, where it was known as the Flyers. In 1982, the team was moved again, this time to North Bay, and renamed the Centennials, where it remained until moving to Saginaw in 2002.
The Spirit have done extensive promotions in the Mid-Michigan area, increasing their fan base and season ticket-holder numbers. The Spirit have one of the highest attendance rates in the Ontario Hockey League.
After three rebuilding seasons the Spirit clinched their first playoff berth on March 2, 2006, but lost in the first round to the Guelph Storm. Led by Todd Watson, they made the playoffs the following two seasons, but lost to the division rival Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds both times, in six games in 2007 and in four games in 2008. In 2009, the Spirit won their first playoff series since relocating to Saginaw, sweeping Guelph in four games. They were then swept in the second round by the London Knights.
On December 29, 2013, the Spirit and the Windsor Spitfires played the first ever outdoor game in Ontario Hockey League history. The game was played at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Spitfires won the game 6-5 in front of a shortly lived Canadian Hockey League record of 25,749 spectators, surpassed later that night by the London Knights and Plymouth Whalers at the same venue.
The first coach in Saginaw Spirit history was Dennis Desrosiers. He was well known to local fans, with many years of hockey experience in Michigan. As a player, he spent 10 years for the Saginaw Gears (IHL), and spent time coaching the Flint Generals, Saginaw Generals & Kalamazoo Wings all in Michigan.
List of coaches. Numbers of seasons in parentheses.
- 2002–03 – Dennis Desrosiers (2)
- 2003–04 – Dennis Desrosiers / Moe Mantha
- 2004–05 – Doug Lidster / Bob Mancini
- 2005–07 – Bob Mancini (3)
- 2007–11 – Todd Watson (5)
- 2011-12 – Todd Watson / Greg Gilbert
- 2012–16 – Greg Gilbert fired mid-season
- 2016 – Moe Mantha (interim)
- 2016–17 – Spencer Carbery
- 2017–18 – Troy Smith
- 2018–present – Chris Lazary
- 2003–04 – Patrick McNeill, Jack Ferguson Award - 1st overall OHL Priority Draft Selection
- 2005–06 – Ryan Daniels, F.W. "Dinty" Moore Trophy - Best Rookie GAA
- 2005–06 – Craig Goslin, OHL Executive of the Year
- 2006–07 – Tom Pyatt, William Hanley Trophy - Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year
- 2006–07 – Craig Goslin, OHL Executive of the Year
- 2011-12 – Brandon Saad, William Hanley Trophy - Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year
- 2011-12 – Greg Gilbert, Matt Leyden Trophy - Coach of the Year
- 2015-16 – Will Petschenig, Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy - Humanitarian of the Year
- 89 – Vincent Trocheck
Legend: OTL = Overtime loss, SL = Shootout loss
- 2002–03 Out of playoffs.
- 2003–04 Out of playoffs.
- 2004–05 Out of playoffs.
- 2005–06 Lost to Guelph Storm 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2006–07 Lost to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 games to 2 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2007–08 Lost to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2008–09 Defeated Guelph Storm 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
Lost to London Knights 4 games to 0 in conference semi-finals.
- 2009–10 Lost to Kitchener Rangers 4 games to 2 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2010–11 Defeated Guelph Storm 4 games to 2 in conference quarter-finals.
Lost to Windsor Spitfires 4 games to 2 in conference semi-finals.
- 2011–12 Defeated Sarnia Sting 4 games to 2 in conference quarter-finals.
Lost to London Knights 4 games to 2 in conference semi-finals.
- 2012–13 Lost to London Knights 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2013–14 Lost to Erie Otters 4 games to 1 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2014–15 Lost to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2015–16 Lost to Erie Otters 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
- 2016–17 Out of playoffs.
- 2017–18 Lost to Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 4 games to 0 in conference quarter-finals.
Uniforms and logos
The Saginaw Spirit logo depicts an American bald eagle with the colors of the Stars and Stripes along its neck, on the words "Saginaw Spirit." The uniform scheme is similar to that previously used by the U.S.A. national team. The home jerseys are white backgrounds with navy blue sleeves and red trim. The away jerseys are navy blue backgrounds with red sleeves and white trim. The Saginaw third jersey has a red background with navy blue sleeves and white trim, bearing across the chest the word "Saginaw" spelled diagonally downwards from left to right.
Saginaw's main mascot is "Sammy Spirit," resembling an American bald eagle. The team held a vote on their website to name a new secondary mascot for the 2006–07 season. The mascot was named Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle after Stephen Colbert. Colbert had promoted the contest on his show, The Colbert Report. After naming the mascot after Colbert, the Spirit won seven straight games before losing to the Sarnia Sting on October 20. Since then, The Colbert Report had featured ongoing comedy sketches related to the team, the mascot, and other teams in the Ontario Hockey League, especially the Oshawa Generals, and Oshawa, Ontario mayor John Gray. At one game, fans of the Spirits threw copies of [General Motors]'s annual report, a reference to the fact that GM, the Generals sponsor, had poor earnings at the time. As a result of losing the game, the mayor of Oshawa created Stephen Colbert day.
The Spirit play at Wendler Arena (capacity 5,527), which is part of The Dow Event Center complex in downtown Saginaw. The OHL All-Star Classic was hosted here in 2007. This was the first time in history that the OHL All-Star Game was hosted in an American city. The Arena was formerly home to the Saginaw Gears, Saginaw Generals, Saginaw Hawks, Saginaw Wheels and the Saginaw Lumber Kings. The general manager is local high school hockey legend Matt Blasy.
- Capacity = 5,527
- Ice size = 192' x 85'
- Wendler Arena The OHL Arena & Travel Guide
Mid Michigan Spirit
The Saginaw Spirit in partnership with Meijer food stores sponsor the Mid Michigan Spirit, a women's hockey club based in Midland, Michigan. The 16U team took second at the MAHA state tournament during the 2006-2007 season. A 16U team moved up to 19U for the 2007-2008 season and once again took second at the MAHA state tournament in Canton, Michigan on March 9, 2008.
- Parker, Jeff (December 29, 2013). "Spits top Spirit 6-5 at Comerica Park". Windsor Star. Postmedia. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
- "OHL Doubleheader Outdoor Game". Saginaw Spirit. Canadian Hockey League. Archived from the original on December 7, 2013.
- "OHL set for Hockeytown Winter Festival". Ontario Hockey League. Canadian Hockey League. June 6, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
- Masisak, Corey (December 29, 2013). "Windsor tops Saginaw in first outdoor game". NHL.com. National Hockey League. Retrieved July 28, 2017.
- "Spirit on the Colbert Report Tonight". Saginaw Spirit. October 3, 2006. Archived from the original on February 9, 2007.