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Thursday, December 7, 2023

First game, first goal: Saginaw rookie lifts Spirit

SAGINAW, MI – In his first OHL game, Jacob Cloutier is already catching up to his older brother.

And proving the Saginaw Spirit right for spending a second-round pick on the 16-year-old right winger.

Cloutier scored the game-winner Saturday, helping lead the Spirit to a 2-1 win over Sarnia at the Dow Event Center.

“We drafted him in the second round, so there was a lot to like about him,” Spirit coach Chris Lazary said. “We love his energy. We love his excitement. When he enters a room, you can sense his energy.

Saginaw “He’s all about being a hockey player.”

Cloutier, the younger brother of Soo right winger Justin Cloutier, gave Saginaw a 2-0 lead in the second period off assists from Valentin Zhugin and Luke McNamara.

The Spirit took Cloutier in the second round of the 2023 OHL Draft, 35th overall.

“It’s a special moment for him,” Lazary said. “He didn’t play Friday (a 4-3 loss to Kitchener), but I sat down with him and told him he was playing this game.

“The situation was not too big for him.”

After a scoreless first period, Nashville Predators draft pick Joey Willis gave Saginaw the lead off assists from Hunter Haight and Calem Mangone.

Spirit goaltender Andrew Oke made the lead stand up, although Sarnia cut the margin to one heading into the third period on a goal by Tyson Doucette.

Oke made 24 saves, including eight in the third period.

“This was the kind of game you want,” Lazary said. “You want a tight game because that’s the type of game you’re going to be in against the top teams.

“It’s our first win, but there were a lot of good teams that didn’t win Friday.”

The Greyhounds, however, were not one of those teams. Sault Ste. Marie is 2-0 after beating Flint, 11-3, and Brantford, 7-5. Justin Cloutier, who played in both wins, has one goal, tying his brother after two games.

The Spirit are off until Saturday, Oct. 7, when they return to the Dow Event Center to take on Kitchener.

T-Bone heads to AHL

Davis “T-Bone” Codd signed an AHL contract with the San Diego Gulls, an affiliate to the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.

The Spirit took Codd with the 66th overall pick in the 2019 draft. The Brighton High School product, who won the Division 1 golf state title in 2021, played in 89 games for the Spirit with 11 goals and 21 assists.

Codd was eligible to play golf for Brighton after the OHL canceled the end of the 2020 season and all of the 2021 season because of Covid, restoring his high school eligibility.

Codd, who was an overage forward this season, played in two preseason games with Saginaw before joining the Anaheim Ducks as a free agent for the Rookie Faceoff Tournament.

He had an assist with the Ducks in the tournament, helping them earn a 2-1 record in three games and earning an invitation to Anaheim’s NHL training camp.


Brighton’s Davis Codd takes a break from NHL dream to claim state golf title

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