Sellout Crowd Expected as Firebirds Host In-State Rival Saginaw Wednesday
Flint, Mich. - The Firebirds will host their in-state rivals for the first time this season Wednesday night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the newly renovated Dort Financial Center (cap. 3,939) in Flint. It will be Dort Financial Member Night, where Dort Financial Credit Union members were able to claim up to four complimentary tickets each, and at the time of print, only standing-room tickets are still available. For the sixth consecutive season, the team that wins the most regular-season meetings between the two clubs will take home the coveted I-75 Divide Cup,Â sponsored by Coors Light. Saginaw has claimed the Cup three times in the past five seasons.
In two preseason meetings this year, Flint and Saginaw each won as the visiting club. The 'Birds claimed the first victoryÂ in Erie, Pa.Â by a score of 5-2 on September 17. That night, first-year forwards Coulson Pitre (2 G), Amadeus Lombardi (1 G, 1 A), and Westland, Mich. native Gavin Hayes (2 A) topped the scoresheet for Flint. Luke Cavallin played the full 60 minutes in net, making 16 saves on 18 shots. Nick Wong led the Spirit with a two-point night (1 G, 1 A).
Saginaw utilized an empty-net goal in the final minute to win the second and final exhibition tilt 7-5 at Flint Iceland Arena on October 3. Fourth-year veteran Camryn Baber stole the show that night with a hat trick and five total points (3 G, 2 A) for the Spirit. Ty Petrou (2 G), Sahil Panwar (1 G, 1 A), Zach Terry (2 A), and Zacharie Giroux (2 A) led the way for Flint.
All-time, Flint carries a record of 14-23-0-2 against Saginaw, with a home record of 7-10-0-2. In the shortened 2019-20 season, Saginaw won four of seven meetings. The Firebirds look to right the ship at home in the rivalry as the Spirit has won eight straight games at the Dort Financial Center. Wednesday marks the first of 12 total meetings between these squads this season, and the first of six to be played in Flint. Both teams have played two regular-season contests thus far this season, with Flint winning both and Saginaw winning one of two. At the time of print, the 'Birds are one of only four unbeaten teams in the OHL.
On special teams, the Firebirds have scored one power-play goal on five chances, which ranks them 10th in the 20-team OHL. Saginaw remains scoreless on seven opportunities with the man-advantage. Flint is killing penalties at an 80% clip, ranking ninth in the league. The Spirit has killed eight of nine penalties to rank sixth at an 88.9% success rate.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (2-0-0-0, 2nd West Division):
Forward Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) (2 G) and defenseman Tyler Deline (1 G, 1 A) sit atop the offensive stats for the Firebirds through two contests. Deline scored his first OHL goal last Thursday on home ice versus Erie. Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Coulson Pitre, and Zacharie Giroux have one goal each. Giroux netted the game-winning goal over the Otters last week, which was featured on ESPN's Sportscenter Top 10.
Newly acquired overage forward Tag Bertuzzi logged 47 total points (25 G, 22 A) through 57 contests during the shortened 2019-20 OHL season. Tag is the son of former NHL'er Todd Bertuzzi, who played his final five NHL seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Tag's cousin Tyler Bertuzzi is entering his sixth season with the Red Wings. Both Todd and Tyler Bertuzzi played with OHL's Guelph Storm prior to launching their NHL careers. In the group of returning Firebirds' players from the 2019-20 season, Riley Piercey logged the most total points with 34 (17Â G, 17 A) through 62 games.
In net, veteran Flint netminder Luke Cavallin played both regular-season games thus far and earned two victories, stopping 72 of 74 shots in total. He is one of only four goaltenders with a shutout this season. He carries a 1.00 goals-against average (GAA) and a .973 save-percentage (SV%). At the early conclusion of the 2019-20 season, Cavallin was credited with 11 wins in 20 appearances, with a 3.68 GAA and .895 SV%. First-year goaltenders Nathaniel Day and Ian Michelone split time in two exhibition contests, earning valuable experience at the OHL level. Day finished with .765 SV% and Michelone's was .800.
NHL:Â The Firebirds have three players with NHL ties consisting of Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets), and Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers). In addition, Tag Bertuzzi was invited to the recent Montreal Canadians rookie camp, and forward Sahil Panwar was an invitee at the Los Angeles Kings' camp.
Despite Flint playing in just five OHL seasons thus far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes / Detroit Red Wings), Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets), and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) are three former Firebirds toÂ play in the NHL. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) and Firebirds' alumni Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit Red Wings) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) have all played in NHL pre-season contests. In total, the team has produced 21 signed or drafted players into the NHL.
Saginaw Spirit (1-1-0-0, 5th West Division):
Forward Calem Mangone (1 G, 1 A) and Saginaw, Mich. native defenseman Mitchell Smith (1 G, 1 A) top the Spirit in scoring with two points each. Davis Codd, who hails from nearby Brighton, Mich., and Roberto Mancini have also lit the lamp once each through two contests. Returning forward Dalton Duhart is from Grand Blanc, Mich., and is the son of longtime Flint Generals' enforcer and fan-favorite Jim Duhart. The younger Duhart logged 14 goals and added 15 assists for 29 total points in 58 games played during the 2019-20 season.
Between the pipes, returning goaltender Tristan Lennox (New York Islanders) has played both games and earned one victory. He carries a 2.01 goals-against average (GAA) and a save-percentage (SAV%) of .913. Rookies Brett Fullerton and Shelby Township, Mich. native Andrew Oke each played in preseason contests but have yet to take the ice in regular-season play.
NHL:Â The Spirit have two players with NHL ties, consisting of Josh Bloom (Buffalo Sabres) and Tristan Lennox (New York Islanders).
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.
WednesdayÂ evening's contest against theÂ Saginaw Spirit can be heardÂ live on the radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM, online atÂ www.us103.com,Â or by downloading theÂ US 103 app here. Jack Sznewajs will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Pregame coverage will begin prior to puck drop at 6:45 p.m. (ET) Wednesday evening.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channelÂ 466 (4466 HD) for both Rogers TV and Cogeco TV cable subscribers.Â 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. Also, all Flint Firebirds' home and away games throughout the 2021-22 regular season can be watched anywhere in the world online onÂ https://watch.chl.ca/ohl.Â CHL TV is the league's new and improved 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 for 24-hour access, $24.99Â for monthly access, $109.99 for all-access to the 2021-22 Firebirds and OHL season, or $159.99 for all-access to the entire 2021-22 CHL season.
Flint FirebirdsÂ vs. Saginaw Spirit
Date | Time Saturday, October 9thÂ |Â 7:00 p.m.
Location Dort Financial Center | Flint, Mich.
Tickets OnlineÂ |Â (810) 744-0580
TV Firebirds' Broadcast CoverageÂ | Rogers/Cogeco: 466
Video Stream CHL TV
Radio WQUSÂ 103.1 FMÂ (Flint & Mid-Michigan)
Radio (Mobile) US 103 App:Â AndroidÂ |Â iPhone/iPad
Next Home Game Wednesday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM | Buy One, Get One Wednesday
Social Media @FlintFirebirdsÂ Â |Â FacebookÂ Â |Â InstagramÂ
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