Preview: Firebirds Host Oshawa Generals Friday in Flint
Flint, Mich. - After playing five consecutive games on the road, the Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a Friday night tilt. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. against the Oshawa Generals.
There are 10 players with NHL ties between both Flint and Oshawa's current rosters Friday night which include the Firebirds' Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and the Generals' Nico Gross (New York Rangers), Kyle Keyser (Boston Bruins), Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs), Allan McShane (Montreal Canadians), Serron Noel (Florida Panthers), Brandon Saigeon (Colorado Avalanche), Anthony Salinitri (Philadelphia Flyers) and Giovanni Vallati (Winnipeg Jets).
Flint Firebirds left wing Ethan Keppen vs. the Oshawa Generals
(Flint Firebirds, Credit: Goodall Media)
Friday marks the second of two meetings between the two clubs this season, and the only contest to be played in Flint. All-time, Flint is 2-5-0-0 in the series and are 1-2-0-0 on home ice against the Generals. The last meeting between these clubs was in front of 5,198 fans at the Tribute Communities Centre in Oshawa on Jan 20, 2019. Flint held a 3 - 2 lead after two periods, but eventually surrendered an 8 - 4 defeat to the Generals (Watch Highlights). Ethan Keppen extended his point streak to nine games, scoring in his home-town. Jake Durham also found the back of the net on an assisted play by Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), both of whom also hail from the Oshawa region in nearby Port Perry, Ont. Eric Uba and Kyle Harris also lit the lamp for the Firebirds. Luke Cavallin stopped 34 of 42 shots between the pipes. Anthony Salinitri (Philadelphia Flyers) scored a hat trick to lead the Generals.
The Generals enter Friday's contest with a record of 34-18-3-0 and are 4-1-0-0 in their last five games. They're ranked second in the East Division, and they're in a three-way tie for second in the 10-team Eastern Conference. The Firebirds sit fifth in the West Division and 10th in the Western Conference, with a record of 10-42-4-0.
Ty Dellandrea (Port Perry), Jake Durham (Port Perry), and Ethan Keppen (Whitby) are three Firebirds that hail from the Oshawa region and all three enter Friday's contest as the three leaders in points for the Firebirds. Jacob Winterton (Whitby) is the fourth Flint Firebird that calls Oshawa home. Flint's Head Coach Eric Wellwood spent two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant coach with the Generals and was a part of the Memorial Cup Championship team in 2015.
On special teams, Oshawa has the OHL's seventh-best power-play, converting on 24.4% of their opportunities. Flint is 19th operating at 14.5%. On the penalty-kill, the Generals are sixth in the OHL at 80.5% while Flint is 19th at 69.7%.
Friday marks the second-annual 'Credit Union Night.' All fans with a credit union debit or credit card (or proof of membership) can buy one ticket and get one ticket free for all price levels at the box office. Friday is also a '4 Pack Friday,' featuring (4) tickets, (4) hot dogs and (4) soft drinks, starting at just $60. Additionally, Friday is the Firebirds annual 'Talk Today' game. The Flint Firebirds, the Ontario Hockey League and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Windsor Essex County Branch are teaming up to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. A CMHA-run kiosk along with McLaren Flint, Genesee Health System and Helping Hand Autism Services will have tables set up to encourage discussion on the arena concourse so fans can learn more about mental health. Pictures featuring Flint Firebirds players promoting the importance of mental health, including public address announcements and video board messages will be played throughout the event.
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.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (10-42-4-0, 5th West Division):
The 'Port Perry connection' of Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Jake Durham continue to lead the way for the Firebirds. Dellandrea has the most assists (36) and total points (53) on the team through 48 games played. Durham has the most goals (33) and the second-most points (52) through 56 games. Whitby, Ont. native Ethan Keppen enters Friday night's contest on a six-game point streak (7G, 3A), and has points in 17 of his past 18 games. Keppen ranks third on the Firebirds' roster with 48 total points (24G, 24A) in 56 games this season.
Riley McCourt tops Flint's defensive troops in goals-scored (6), and now has 27 points in 38 games. He also has points in eight of his last nine contests and is tied for 14th in points-per-game (0.71) among OHL defensemen. Defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok tops the freshman class of Firebirds with 25 points (3G, 22A) in 42 games-played.
In net, Luke Cavallin has compiled a 5.52 GAA and a .860 SAV% across 30 appearances. Emanuel Vella holds a 4.90 goals-against average (GAA) and a .874 save percentage (SAV%) in 35 appearances.
NHL: The Firebirds have two players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars). In addition, Luke Cavallin, Kyle Harris, Ethan Keppen, Vladislav Kolyachonok, Eric Uba, Cody Morgan, Emmet Pierce and Jacob Winterton are eight first-time eligible skaters for the upcoming NHL Draft in June. Cavallin, Keppen, Kolyachonok and Uba were among the 50 OHL Players in NHL Central Scouting's Midterm Rankings 'Players to Watch' list for the upcoming NHL Draft.
Despite Flint playing in just their fourth season in the OHL, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets) are two former Firebirds to play in the NHL. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit Red Wings) have played in NHL pre-season contests.
Oshawa Generals (34-18-3-0, 2nd East Division):
Brandon Saigeon (Colorado Avalanche) leads the Generals in scoring and is seventh in the OHL in points. He's picked up 20 points (10G, 10A) in 15 games with Oshawa since being acquired in a trade with Hamilton. For the season, Saigeon is tied for the OHL's third-most power-play goals (15), and has 83 total points (35G, 48A) through 55 games-played. Saigeon enters Friday's contest on an eight-game point streak. Anthony Salinitri (Philadelphia Flyers) paces the league with seven shorthanded tallies, and ranks second for scoring the first goal of the game eight times this season. For the campaign, he has 40 goals and 34 assists through 55 games. Serron Noel (Florida Panthers) ranks third for Oshawa with 70 points (29G, 41A) in 55 contests and is on a five-game point streak. In addition, Brett Neumann and Allan McShane (Montreal Canadians) are also averaging more than a point-per-game in the campaign. Neumann is on a three-game point streak and McShane is on a four-game point streak.
Former Firebirds' defenseman Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) leads the defensive unit with 49 points (16G, 33A) in 55 games-played. His points-per-game average of 0.89 ranks him eighth among OHL rearguards. Tyler Tullio tops the first-year players on the team with 12 goals and 18 helpers in 47 contests.
Between the pipes, former Firebirds' netminder Kyle Keyser (Boston Bruins) ranks fifth in the OHL in goals-against average (GAA) and has the second-best save percentage (SAV%). He has 25 wins in 37 appearances, posting a 2.75 GAA with a SAV% of .915. Keyser has played the last three-straight games for the Generals and has won all three. Aidan Hughes has appeared in 29 games this season, posting a 4.08 GAA and a .867 SAV% along with 12 victories.
NHL: Oshawa has eight players with NHL ties on its current roster, including Nico Gross (New York Rangers), Kyle Keyser (Boston Bruins), Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs), Allan McShane (Montreal Canadians), Serron Noel (Florida Panthers), Brandon Saigeon (Colorado Avalanche), Anthony Salinitri (Philadelphia Flyers) and Giovanni Vallati (Winnipeg Jets).
184 of Oshawa's alumni have played in the NHL, including Bobby Orr, Ted Lindsay, Eric Lindros, John Tavares, Gord Murphy, Michael Del Zotto, Wayne Primeau, Cal Clutterbuck, Jason Arnott, Dan Hinote, Danny O'Shea, Boone Jenner, Alex Delvecchio and Claude Julien.
Friday evening's contest against the Oshawa Generals 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 Flint Firebirds Hockey Radio Network. Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.
The game will also be televised live province-wide throughout Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 433 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 474 for Cogeco 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 Friday's game, 65 of the Firebirds' 68 games throughout the 2018-19 season are also scheduled to be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak.
All Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2018-19 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.
Blue Line Club Menu:
Presented by Great Lakes Sandwich Co & Cafe, Friday evening's dinner menu for the Blue Line Club features Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh steamed vegetables, three-cheese chicken pasta, dinner rolls with butter, garden salad and assorted desserts. Friday's menu is available to all sponsors and season ticket holders for $12 per person. Dinner RSVPs are encouraged by emailing Karla Turner at email@example.com.
Next Home Game:
Get tropical with the Firebirds Saturday, Feb. 16 when the club takes the ice for the forth-annual "Flint Tropics Night." Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) against the Owen Sound Attack.
Inspired by the movie "Semi-Pro" starring Will Ferrell, the Firebirds will be wearing special themed jerseys, pants and socks throughout the game that are sure to impress everyone in attendance. Immediately following the game, there will be a live jersey auction, giving fans an opportunity to take home the game-worn Flint Tropics jersey of their choice. Proceeds will be donated to the Firebirds Charitable Foundation which benefits local youth organizations throughout Flint, Genesee County and Mid-Michigan. Special video clips from the movie Semi Pro, tropical themed music, Flint Tropics merchandise and many more fun and entertaining elements will take place throughout the night.
Images from this story
Flint Firebirds left wing Ethan Keppen vs. the Oshawa Generals
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