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Preview: Firebirds Face-Off vs. Steelheads in Mississauga Friday

February 21, 2020 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Flint Firebirds News Release

Mississauga, Ont. - The Firebirds will play game two of three-in-a-row on the weekend with a visit to the Steelheads Friday night. Flint brings a 14-game overall winning-streak and a 10-game road win-streak with them. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre (cap. 5,612) in Mississauga.

The last time these teams met was November 9 at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint. The 'Birds defeated the visiting Steelheads 5 - 3. After falling behind 3-0 in the first period, the Firebirds battled back and scored five unanswered goals for the victory. Riley McCourt lit-the-lamp twice, Connor Roberts found twine, Evgeniy Oksentyuk scored the game-winning goal on a penalty shot and Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) sealed the victory on an empty net. Between-the-pipes, Luke Cavallin made 25 saves on 28 shots en-route to his fourth win on the season.

Friday night marks the second of two regular-season meetings between these clubs this campaign, and the only time they'll meet in Mississauga. All-time, the Firebirds hold a record of 4-4-0-1 in games against the Steelheads. The 'Birds are 1-2-0-1 on the road in the series. Last season Flint finished with an overall record of 0-2-0-0 versus the Fish.

Mississauga enters Friday's tilt with a season record of 24-26-4-1. The Steelheads are 13-13-0-0 on home ice this season. They rank third in the Central Division and seventh in the Eastern Conference, and have gone 5-3-2-0 in their last 10 games. Flint carries a 14-game overall winning streak and a 10-game road winning streak currently, and has a season record of 36-17-1-0. They rank first in the West Division and second in the 10-team Western Conference. On the road, the 'Birds are 18-9-0-1 and have scored more goals than any other team in OHL (140).

On special teams this season, the Firebirds are converting on the power play at a rate of 19.7%, which is 16th in the league. They've improved to the fourth-best road power play, however, now finding success 24.8% of the time. The Steelheads rank 13th in the OHL, scoring at a 20.1% clip. Mississauga is killing penalties at a rate of 77.3%, which is tied for 13th-best in the OHL. Flint's penalty-killers rank third at an 82.2% efficiency.

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (36-17-1-1, 1st West Division):

Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Belarusian forward Evgeniy Oksentyuk are tied for the top spot on the stat sheet for Flint, each with 67 total points. Dellandrea has the most goals (31) and has played in 45 games. Oksentyuk has 30 tallies plus 37 assists in 50 games-played. Both players are tied for seventh in the league with six game-winning goals. Dellandrea has also won the fourth-most faceoffs in the OHL at 621. He also has the third-highest faceoff win-percentage (59.1%) among players who've taken more than 1,000 draws this season.

Defenseman Riley McCourt set the record for the most assists by a defenseman in Flint history last weekend, and now holds the franchise records for most points (101), assists (74) and goals (27) by a Flint rearguard. For this season, he's third in total offense with 17 goals and 39 assists for 56 total points in 55 games. He ranks fifth among OHL blue-liners in points, is tied for fifth in goals and fourth in assists, and is sixth with a 1.02 points-per-game average.

Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) joined the Firebirds at the trade deadline this season. Since then, he has 21 points (7G, 14A) in 19 games. For the season, he has 15 tallies and 35 helpers for 50 points in 47 games. He sits tied for fourth among OHL rearguards with a 1.06 points-per-game average. He's also in the top-10 for points (7th), goals (T-7th) and assists (7th).

A couple of 'Birds have shown increased production of late. Jack Wismer has 11 goals and seven assists for 18 total points in his last 12 games. Connor Roberts now has points in ten of his last 11 contests, totaling five markers and seven helpers.

Brennan Othmann continues to lead Flint's freshman class with a new franchise-high 30 points, including a record 14 goals. Ty Dellandrea held the previous record for rookie-scoring with 13 tallies his freshman year in the league. Among all OHL rookies, Othmann is currently sixth in goals (14) and ninth in total points (30).

In net, Anthony Popovich earned his first shutout of the season and second of his career over the IceDogs in Niagara Thursday. He's now been credited with a franchise-best 25 victories in 39 appearances this season. He ranks fifth in total wins and ninth with a save-percentage (SAV%) of .897. Popovich's goals-against average (GAA) is 3.61. Luke Cavallin is recovering from a lower-body injury and won't be expected to play Friday. The Firebirds have recalled netminder Evan Morrison from the Listowel Cyclones of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL). Morrison is carrying a 2.75 GAA and a .905 SAV% through 24 contests with Listowel this season.

NHL: The Firebirds have five players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) and Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues). Additionally, Evgeniy Oksentyuk was named to the NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.

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 18 drafted or signed NHL players in that short time.

Mississauga Steelheads (24-26-4-1, 3rd Central Division):

Cole Schwindt (Florida Panthers) has played in 51 games and tops the scoresheet for the Fish in scoring with 25 goals and 38 helpers for 63 points. James Hardie ranks second with 32 goals and 25 helpers through 53 contests. Defenseman Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars) has played in 53 games this season and sits third in scoring with 18 tallies and 34 assists for 52 total points. Among OHL rearguards, Harley is tied for third in goals, sixth in points, seventh in assists, is tied for second in power-play markers and is tied for ninth with Flint's Riley McCourt at .98 points-per-game.

First-year defenseman Ole Bjogvik-Holm has two goals and 15 assists, which ranks him top in rookie scoring for Mississauga.

Goaltender Kai Edmonds has appeared in 49 games and earned 23 victories. He carries the OHL's eighth-best goals-against average (GAA) of 3.19 and is tied for the ninth-best save-percentage (SAV%) of .897. Second-year netminder Joe Ranger has ten appearances with one win. He has a GAA of 5.18 and a SAV% of .846.

NHL: The Steelheads have three players with NHL ties consisting of Keean Washkurak (St. Louis Blues), Cole Schwindt (Florida Panthers) and Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars). Additionally, Ole Bjogvik-Holm and James Hardie were named to the NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.

Mississauga alumni to play in the NHL include Trevor Carrick, Dylan DeMelo, Spencer Martin, Michael McLeod, Stuart Percy, Alexander Nylander and Owen Tippett.

Broadcast Coverage:

Friday evening's contest against the Mississauga Steelheads 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. Firebirds' broadcaster Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Radio Network. Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.

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.

Next Home Game:

The Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center this Saturday, Feb. 22. when the club hosts the Kitchener Rangers. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) for the Firebirds' 5th-annual United Auto Workers (UAW) / United Way Night.

Fans can use promo code UAW on ticketmaster.com to have $5 from their tickets donated to the United Way of Genesee County. Also, take in two hockey games for the price of one as Team UAW will face-off vs. Team United Way in the annual 'Live United Game.' Doors open at 3:45 p.m., the game starts at 4 p.m. and fans must have a ticket to the following Firebirds' game at 7 p.m. to gain entrance into the 'Live United' game. Then, during the Firebirds' game, there will be a silent auction behind section 20 for both the UAW and United Way team jerseys and various other items.

Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 Bronze, $16 Silver, $20 Gold and $26 VIP seating (Seating Chart). All seats are reserved / assigned seating. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (810) 744-0580, in-person at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.

Flint Firebirds at Mississauga Steelheads

Date | Time Friday, Feb. 21 | 7:00 p.m.

Location Mississauga, Ont. | Paramount Fine Foods Centre (capacity 5,612)

Tickets Online | (905) 502-9100

Video Stream OHL Live

Radio WQUS 103.1 FM (Flint & Mid-Michigan) | Pregame Show: 6:30p

Radio (Mobile) US 103 App: Android | iPhone/iPad

Next Home Game Saturday, Feb. 22: UAW / United Way Night

Social Media @FlintFirebirds   | Facebook  | Instagram 


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