North side to Saginaw

March 1, 2017

A solid case can be made that the future of the Saginaw Spirit is somewhat attached to the hockey rinks of northern Ontario.

Though Saginaw appears destined to miss the Ontario Hockey League playoffs this season — the Spirit trails the eighth-place Sarnia Sting by nine points with eight games to play — general manager Dave Drinkill has the team in good position looking ahead.

And what lies ahead for Saginaw could well include plenty of Spirit from three northern Ontario products.

Two of the boys from the north — forwards Damien Giroux and Max Grondin — are already settled in as seasoned rookies in Saginaw.

Giroux, a third-round-pick (44th overall), from the Sudbury Wolves minor midgets at the 2016 OHL draft, has been impressive with 7 goals, 16 assists, 23 points in just 45 games for Saginaw.

Grondin, a second-round pick in 2016 (37th overall), from the Vaughan Kings midgets via the North Bay Trappers bantams, has played in all 60 of Saginaw’s games and has 5 goals, 3 assists, 8 points.

Giroux hails from Greater Sudbury while Grondin is originally from the northeastern Ontario town of Hearst.

Meanwhile, a third northern Ontario kid, goalie Cameron Lamour, is auditioning for time on the Spirit stage.

Another high pick from the 2016 OHL draft — third round, 53rd overall — Lamour is apprenticing with the Rayside-Balfour Canadians of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.

Lamour, who was a teammate of Giroux’s with the Sudbury minor midgets in 2015-2016, saw 130 minutes of OHL action for Saginaw earlier this 2016-2017 season and posted a 2.31 goals against average and .896 save percentage before heading to the NOJHL and Rayside-Balfour.

In fact, Lamour played for Rayside-Balfour in an NOJHL game against the Soo Thunderbirds on Tuesday night before heading to Saginaw to join the Spirit for the coming weekend.

A tall, slender tender, Lamour has raw ability that could well lead to regular net duty with Saginaw down the road.

With youth on their side, Giroux, Grondin and Lamour all have 2000 birth dates.

To be sure, aforementioned GM Drinkill has accented youth as he aspires to put Saginaw into Western Conference contention within a development time frame ahead.

At the same 2016 OHL draft in which he got Giroux, Grondin and Lamour, Drinkill gambled with his top two picks by selecting forward Blade Jenkins and defenseman Bode Wilde, a pair of Michigan kids who opted to play for the USA National Team Development Program this season while carrying the security of future Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association commitments.

And with a dozen-and-a-half players eligible to return to Saginaw for the 2017-2018 season, Drinkill just may have put the Spirit in a good spot moving forward — especially if he can sign Jenkins and Wilde.

A good spot that could well include contributions from Giroux, Grondin and Lamour — a troika of talent from good old northern Ontario.

What you think about “North side to Saginaw”

  1. You completely let out out Danny Katic from South Porcupine, ON who was also drafted by Saginaw in the same draft and has already played in 8 games with the big club.

  2. Good one RR and .. I luv it that a team like Saginaw pay’s attention to Northern Ontario esp Sudbury.

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