Firebirds & Spitfires Battle for Sunday Matinee in Windsor
Windsor, Ont. - Following a 4-2 victory over the CHL's top-ranked Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Saturday night, the Firebirds head to Windsor for a Sunday matinee contest. Puck drop is set for 2:05 p.m. (ET) at the Windsor Family Credit Union (WFCU) Centre.
This season, the Firebirds hold a 1-1 record against Windsor with the road team winning both games. The Spitfires claimed the first victory on Oct. 22 in Flint before the Firebirds posted a 4-3 overtime triumph in Windsor on Dec. 3. That night, rookie netminder Luke Cavallin earned his first career OHL win, making 30 saves on 33 shots. Jalen Smereck was named the 'First Star of the Game,' scoring the overtime goal that sealed the victory.
Sunday marks the third of six games between the two clubs this season and second of three contests in Windsor. Windsor hosts the Firebirds Sunday afternoon after having the night off Saturday. All-time, the Firebirds have a 4-9-1-0 record against Windsor and are 2-4-1-0 in Windsor.
The Spitfires enter the contest with a season record of 22-17-2-2, sitting fourth in the West Division. Flint stands 5th in the West Division with a 13-26-3-1 record. Windsor has a home record of 9-8-2-2 this season and Flint brings a road record of 4-14-2-1. Windsor's last game was a 3 - 1 road loss to the Guelph Storm. The Firebirds were 4 - 2 victors over the Greyhounds last night in front of more than 3,000 fans at the Dort Federal Event Center.
On special teams, the Spitfires have the seventh-ranked power play in the league, converting at a rate of 22.5%. On the penalty kill, they rank fourth-best at 82.5%. Flint converts on 16.5% of their chances with the man-advantage, scoring at least one power-play goal in 10 of the last 11 games. Their penalty kill has found success 73.9% of the time.
Players to Watch: Flint Firebirds (13-26-3-1, 5th West Division): Maurizio Colella currently leads the team in assists and points. He has earned 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points in 42 games played this season. He is currently riding a six-game point streak, having scored four goals and adding five helpers in that time. After recording two lamp-lighters in his 100th-career OHL game in Flint last night, Ty Dellandrea leads the team in goals and is second on the Firebirds' roster with 35 points (17G, 18A) in 43 games. For Dellandrea, Sunday marks the final game before he will compete in the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Guelph, Ont. this Thursday.
Riley McCourt leads all rookies on the Firebirds' roster with 12 points on the season. McCourt notched two assists last night and now has 20 goals and 10 helpers assists in 31 games played.
The Firebirds Captain and Detroit, Mich. native Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) leads all defensemen on the squad. Smereck has five goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 21 games played. He is also riding a six-game point-streak into tonight's contest, scoring one goal and adding six assists in that time.
Between-the-pipes, Garrett Forrest has played in 32 of 43 Firebirds' games this season. Forrest has a 4.65 goals-against average (GAA) and a .863 save percentage (SAV%). Forrest has backstopped Flint to 10 of 13 wins in net, including last night's win over the CHL's top-ranked Soo Greyhounds. Rookie goaltender Luke Cavallin has appeared in 16 games this season. He has a 4.27 GAA and a .862 SAV%. Cavallin was the highest selected goaltender in the 2017 OHL Priority Draft
NHL: The Firebirds have two players with NHL ties consisting of Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) and Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs). Additionally, Dennis Busby, Ty Dellandrea, Hunter Holmes, Ryan Littlejohn, Riley McCourt, Connor Roberts and Jack Wismer are seven first-time eligible players to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft in June 2018. Busby, Dellandrea, Holmes, McCourt, Roberts and Wismer were listed among NHL Central Scouting's November 'Players to Watch' list for the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft.
Windsor Spitfires (22-17-2-2, 4th West Division): The Spitfires are led by Cole Purbo, who has 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points in 43 games played this season. Jake Smith ranks second on the club with nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 42 games. Curtis Douglas is third with 29 points in 41 games. The former Barrie Colt is riding a three-game point-streak and has eight points in his last nine games.
In net, Michael DiPietro (Vancouver Canucks) ranks fourth in the OHL with a goals-against average of 2.66. He has the third-best save percentage at .918. DiPietro has 20 wins in 35 games played this season and played Friday night in Guelph. Back-up netminder Brock Baier has appeared in five games and holds a 5.45 GAA and a .814 SAV%.
NHL: After winning the 2017 CHL Memorial Cup, Windsor now has just one player with NHL ties, goaltender Michael DiPietro (Vancouver Canucks). Forward Igor Larionov hails from Detroit and is the son of the former NHL star and Detroit Red Wing of the same name. Additionally, the Spitfires have two players listed among NHL Central Scouting's November 'Players to Watch' list for the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft: Connor Corcoran and Matthew MacDougall.
19 notable Spitfires' alumni to play in the NHL are Bryan Bickell, Jack Campbell, Matt Cooke, Peter DeBoer, Steve Downie, Ryan Ellis, Cam Fowler, Adam Graves, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Ed Jovanovski, Claude Julien, Michael Leighton, Eddie Mio, Michal Neuvirth, Steve Ott, Richard Panik, Joel Quenneville and Jason Spezza.
Next Home Game: Flint returns home to the Dort Federal Event Center next Saturday, January 27th. Puck drop is at 7 p.m. against the Kitchener Rangers. The game marks another 'Firebirds Fight Hunger' game.
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