Despite a very rocky start to the 2016-17 Ontario Hockey League season, the Saginaw Spirit still have an outside chance to keep its eleven year playoff streak alive by winning its final three regular season games, however, they will also need some help from the Windsor Spitfires and the Guelph Storm, who play the Sarnia Sting in its final two regular season games.
After starting the season under a new coach and a new system the Spirit struggled early on, losing 13 of its first 15 games, however, once the team became comfortable with a new coach and system it would go on to win 10 of its next 15 games.
The Spirit (61-points in the OHL standings) can now only hope to finish the season tied with the Sting (67-points) who host the Spitfires at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, ON tomorrow night, before Sarnia wraps up its regular season on the road against the Guelph Storm at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph, ON Friday night.
According to the OHL first round tie-breaker rules, if two teams are tied for the final conference playoff spot at the end of the regular season, a single 'play-in' game will decide which team advances into the eighth and final playoff spot. Sarnia would host the 'play-in' game, due to a better head-to-head record in the regular season.
The Spirit, now in its 15th season, have only failed to make the playoffs three times (its first 3 years in the league, 2002-03, 03-04, and 04-05) since joining the OHL for the 2002-03 season, and would go on to make the playoffs every year for the next 11 seasons.
The Spirit will play the first of its final three games tomorrow night, when it will host the Soo Greyhounds for a 7:05 pm face off at the Dow Event Center. The team will then head to the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie for a road game against the Greyhounds Friday night before returning home to host the Windsor Spitfires at the Dow Event Center Saturday evening.