The 2016-17 OHL season marks the 15th anniversary of the Saginaw Spirit. Since their move from North Bay, the team has given the fans plenty of entertaining hockey with elite NHL prospects. Part of their success has come from outstanding goaltenders.
These goaltenders have taken control of the crease and given the fans in mid-Michigan something to really cheer for.
So far, in our Top 3 OHL Goaltenders series, we have looked at Windsor, Sarnia and Plymouth/Flint. For our fourth installment, we will examine the top three goaltenders in Saginaw Spirit history. Take a look:
#3 – Evan Cormier
While the Spirit have had some NHL-quality goaltenders come through their system, it’s hard to imagine this list without Evan Cormier. Cormier came to Saginaw in a trade with North Bay during the 2014-15 season. He has been everything the Spirit had hoped for.
While the Spirit haven’t been able to make a whole lot of noise in his two-and-a-half seasons, he has maintained a steady crease. His save percentage has hovered around .895 each year while his goals-against-average has been around 3.40. He has also been a workhorse, playing in 102 games in his two full seasons.
Consistency has been Cormier’s strength along with his ability to keep the Spirit in games. While his record doesn’t show it, you know you’re going to be in for a long game when he steps into the crease.
The New Jersey Devils noticed his play, too, and selected him in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL draft. Here’s a clip of him following the draft:
Cormier has loads of potential and it’s only a matter of time before he’s making waves in the pros. When you look at the big picture, it’s almost intriguing to see how he would do on a contending club. His ability to keep his team in the game night-in and night-out, combined with his solid numbers, earns him the right to be named the third best goaltender in Saginaw Spirit history.
#2 – Jake Paterson
Prior to Cormier, the Spirit had a goaltender that Detroit Red Wings fans were in glee over.
In the second round of the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, the Saginaw Spirit took goalie Jake Paterson out of the Toronto Marlboros system. He started the 2010-11 season with the Soo Eagles of the NOJHL before coming to Saginaw. Paterson got a taste of the OHL that season, playing in five games with the Spirit. His numbers – 2.97 GAA and .907 save percentage – showed he may be able to handle more.
In 2011-12, Saginaw gave him the keys to the crease and he never looked back. Over his next three full seasons with the Spirit, from 2012-15, he saw action in 42-50 games per season with a GAA around 3.50 and a save percentage just over .900.
His play during the 2011-12 season earned him a trip to the 2012 NHL Draft when the Detroit Red Wings grabbed him in the third round. Paterson played in 166 games for the Spirit before being traded to Kitchener for their playoff run in 2014-15. The Spirit were rebuilding and the trade helped both clubs. Since leaving the OHL, Paterson has simmered in the minor pros, waiting for his chance to show the Wings what he can do.
Here’s a video of Paterson during his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins:
During his time with the Spirit, Paterson was known as an elite goaltender who could steal the show. He was a rock between the pipes and his stats were among the upper echelon of goaltenders during his OHL career. For these reasons, Paterson has earned the title of second best goaltender in Saginaw Spirit history.
#1 – Edward Pasquale
In 2007-08, the Belleville Bulls and Saginaw Spirit met up for a huge, multi-player deal. At the forefront were two goaltenders who switched teams – Parker Van Buskirk and Edward Pasquale. Van Buskirk was nearing the end of his OHL career and went on to a great university career in Windsor. Pasquale was just starting his career and the trade turned out to be huge for both him and the Spirit.
Pasquale joined Spirit goalie Ryan Daniels on the club for the 2007-08 season. In 13 games, he had a respectable GAA of 3.54 and a save percentage of .890. In 2008-09, though, he took over the crease. He appeared in a remarkable 61 games for the Spirit, posting a GAA of 3.02 and a save percentage of .911. Those numbers got him a ticket to the 2009 OHL All-Star Classic in Windsor.
Here is a video of a big save by Pasquale during a game in Owen Sound in Nov. 2008:
In his final season with the Spirit, 2009-10, he made 51 appearances and racked up 27 wins. Pasquale also had a GAA of 3.17 and a career-best save percentage of .916.
Pasquale was a leader for the Spirit. He was that steady force you need on the ice. When you think of Saginaw Spirit hockey, Pasquale comes to mind almost immediately. He will forever be a big part of the franchise. For these reasons, he has earned the title of top goaltender in Saginaw Spirit history.