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Flint Travels to Saginaw for Game 4 of I-75 Divide Cup Saturday

December 14, 2019 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Flint Firebirds News Release

Saginaw, Mich. - After nearly 4,000 fans watched a hard-fought battle between in-state rivals in Flint Friday night, the Firebirds and Spirit will meet for the second time in as many nights Saturday. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw for game four of the I-75 Divide Cup, sponsored by Coors Light.

Saginaw has played 31 of their 68 regular-season games so far and they carry a record of 17-10-2-2 for 38 points in the standings. The Spirit are now first place in the West Division, just two points ahead of the Firebirds who have played one fewer game. Flint's record stands at 18-12-0-0, ranking them second in the West Division. In the 10-team Western Conference, Saginaw is seeded second and the 'Birds are in fourth. The Spirit are 8-4-2-0 on home ice compared to Flint's 7-6-0-0 record in away games.

Saginaw now holds the 2 - 1 lead in the season series heading into game four Saturday night. All-time, Flint is 11-22-0-2 against the Spirit and 5-12-0-0 at the Dow Event Center. For the fifth consecutive season, the team who wins the most regular-season meetings between the two clubs will take home the coveted I-75 Divide Cup, sponsored by Coors Light. In each of the first two seasons, the Cup remained in Flint. The Spirit claimed the Cup the last two seasons, thus tying the Cup series at two wins each heading into this year.

Friday night marks the fourth of eight regular-season meetings annually between these clubs, and the second of four in Saginaw. When these clubs met in Saginaw on September 21, the Firebirds scored four unanswered goals to spoil their in-state rivals' opening night. Most recently however, Saginaw tied the season series at the Dort Federal Event Center on November 27. Grand Blanc, Mich. native Dalton Duhart lit the lamp to give the Spirit the early lead, and the visitors went on to claim an 8 - 3 decision in a heated rivalry game. Last night, Flint battled back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game heading into the third period, but Cole Coskey (New York Islanders) buried the game-winning goal with only 38 seconds remaining in regulation.

Despite Saginaw receiving their leading scorer Cole Perfetti back from Team Canada Friday, both clubs will still be missing key players. Saginaw will be missing at least four players in Blade Jenkins (New York Islanders), Tristan Lennox, Mason Millman (Philadelphia Flyers) and Ilya Solovyov. Flint will be missing at least eight players in Ryan Bangs, Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Peyton Grainer, Marcus Gretz, Braeden Kressler, Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers), Evgeniy Oksentyuk and Evan Vierling.

On special teams, the Spirit rank 17th with the man-advantage, converting on 18.9% of their opportunities. The Firebirds are scoring at a 16.8% clip on the power play. When shorthanded, Saginaw has the fourth-best penalty kill (PK) at 81.9%. The Firebirds kill penalties at a rate of 78.3% which is ranks 11th in the league.

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (18-12-0-0, 2nd West Division):

Defenseman Riley McCourt leads the active Firebirds in scoring with 10 goals and 19 assists for 29 points in 30 games. He ranks seventh among all OHL defensemen in total points, is tied for the ninth-most assists, and his 10 goals are tied for fourth-most among the league's rearguards. McCourt was named last week's OHL 'On the Run' Player of the Week with eight points (3G, 5A) over three games. Cody Morgan ranks third among active players this weekend with 25 points (8G, 17A) in 30 games. Jake Durham has 14 goals and 14 helpers through 30 games-played. On Friday, Durham scored his 67th career goal for Flint, tying him with former Flint forward Nick Caamano for the third-most goals in franchise history.

Brennan Othmann had a three-point game against the Spirit last night, and he continues to lead the freshman class with 16 total points. He is tied for seventh-most points among all OHL rookies, fifth in assists and eighth in goals-scored.

Between the pipes, Anthony Popovich has appeared in 21 games this season. His 12 wins are tied for fifth-most among OHL netminders. He carries a 3.69 goals-against average (GAA) and is tied for the league's eighth-best save-percentage (SAV%) at .898. Luke Cavallin now has six wins in 12 appearances, along with a 3.79 GAA. Cavallin is also tied for eighth in the OHL with a .898 SAV%.

NHL: The Firebirds have four players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers). In addition, Evan Vierling was named to the 2020 NHL Central Scouting November 'Players to Watch' list.

Despite Flint being in the midst of just their fifth OHL season, three former Firebirds have already played in NHL regular-season games: Nick Caamano (Dallas Stars), Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets). Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vili Saarijarvi (Arizona Coyotes) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) have played in NHL pre-season contests. In total, the team has produced an impressive 17 drafted or signed NHL players in that short time.

Saginaw Spirit (17-10-2-2, 1st West Division):

Cole Perfetti leads the Spirit in both assists (31) and total points (47). He ranks eighth in the OHL in both categories. His 13 power-play helpers are tied for fourth-most along with teammate Ilya Solovlov. Perfetti is considered a top-prospect and is projected to be a first-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Cole Coskey ranks second on the club with 38 total points (16G, 22A). Coskey is tied for the most insurance goals in the league with four this season. Damien Giroux is third with 30 points, including a team-high 19 tallies. Giroux has eight power-play markers, which are tied for fourth-most in the OHL.

First-year forward Ethan Cardwell tops the freshman class for Saginaw with nine goals and five assists through 29 games-played. His 14 points are tied for ninth-most among all rookies, and his nine goals are tied for third-most.

In net, Marshall Frappier has now appeared in 13 games this season, logging eight victories and earning a 3.31 GAA with a .880 SAV%. Frappier has two shutouts this campaign, which is tied for second-most at this point of the season.

NHL: The Spirit have five players with NHL ties on their roster, consisting of Jackson, Mich. native Blade Jenkins (New York Islanders), Cole Coskey (New York Islanders), Damien Giroux (Minnesota Wild), Mason Millman (Philadelphia Flyers) and Bode Wilde (New York Islanders). Additionally, Cole Perfetti and Ilya Solovyov were named to the 2020 NHL Central Scouting November 'Players to Watch' list.

12 notable Spirit alumni to play in the NHL are Cody Bass, Paul Bissonnette, T.J. Brodie, Matt Corrente, Filip Hronek, Jan Mursak, Jamie Oleksiak, Dalton Prout, Tom Pyatt, Brandon Saad, Chris Thorburn and Vincent Trocheck.

Broadcast Coverage:

Saturday evening's contest in Saginaw can be heard live on the radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM, online at www.us103.com or by downloading the US 103 app here. Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening from Saginaw, Mich.

The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 467 for both Cogeco TV and Rogers TV cable subscribers. OHL fans with cable television in Ontario can add the OHL Action Pak to their television plan to catch the Firebirds in action, home or away all season long. Along with Saturday's game, 65 of the Firebirds' 68 games throughout the 2019-20 season are also scheduled to be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak.

Through Saginaw's partnership, the game will also be televised on a tape-delayed basis throughout Mid-Michigan on Sunday, December 15 at 8 p.m. (ET) on WNEM-TV5 Plus. The channel can be found on 5.2 via antennae over the air, channel 199 for Charter Cable subscribers and channel 4 for Comcast/Xfinity cable subscribers.

All Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2019-20 season can be watched anywhere in the world online on www.ohllive.com or on the OHL Live app. OHL Live is a league video streaming platform that delivers high quality live and on-demand coverage of all regular season and playoff games annually. The cost is $6.99 per game, $69.99 for Flint Firebirds away games only, $149.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $179.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2019-20 season.


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