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Preview: Firebirds Invade Niagara with Three Game Winning Streak Thursday

Aaron Bell / OHL Images
Flint Firebirds (19-39-3-2) at Niagara IceDogs (29-23-7-3)
Date | Time Thursday, March 8th | 7:00 p.m.
Location St. Catharines, Ont. | Meridian Centre (capacity 5,580)
Tickets Buy Online | (905) 687-3641
TV – Cogeco TV channel 10/700 HD Live (Niagara)
– OHL Action Pak: Rogers TV 435 & Cogeco TV 476 Live (Ontario)
Video Stream OHL Live
Radio WQUS 103.1 FM (Flint & Mid-Michigan) | Pregame Show: 6:30p
Radio (Mobile) US 103 App: Android | iPhone/iPad
Live Stats Here
Next Home Game Saturday, Mar. 10: Firefighter Appreciation Night
Social Media @FlintFirebirds   | Facebook | Instagram

St. Catharines, Ont. – The Flint Firebirds are set to conclude their two-game road trip in St. Catharines with a Thursday night tilt against the Niagara IceDogs. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Meridian Centre (capacity 5,580) in St. Catharines, Ont.

Niagara enters Thursday’s contest ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference, with a season record of 29-23-7-3. The IceDogs sit second in the Central Division, and have clinched a playoff berth for the 11th consecutive season. Flint enters the contest ranked fifth in the West Division with a record of 19-39-3-02. It will be the second and final game between Flint and Niagara this season. On Dec. 2, the IceDogs defeated the Firebirds 6 – 4 at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint. Last season the teams split the season series with one win each. Overall, Flint holds a 1-3-1-0 record versus Niagara in their three-season tenure as a franchise in the OHL. Flint has yet to post a victory at the Meridian Centre.

Last night, the Firebirds defeated the Erie Otters in Erie, Penn. by a final score of 7 – 4. With the win, Flint enters tonight’s contest riding a three-game winning streak. In Niagara’s last game, the IceDogs bested the Peterborough Petes 4-2 on home-ice Sunday afternoon.

With the man-advantage, the Firebirds are converting at 17.3% on the power-play and rank 17th, while the IceDogs are at 18.5%, ranking 13th. Flint’s penalty-kill has been successful 73.8% of the time, while Niagara is finding success at the league’s seventh-best rate of 80.2%.

 

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (19-39-3-2, 5th West Division):
Both Hunter Holmes and Riley McCourt call the Niagara region home. Last night, after missing 23 consecutive games, Holmes scored twice in his first game back. McCourt also found the back-of-the-net for the game-winning goal and leads all rookies on the roster with 22 points.

Maurizio Colella leads the team in points with 58 in 62 games played. His 37 assists are the most on the squad. In Wednesday’s game at Erie, Colella added two assists and extended his point streak to three games. Ty Dellandrea leads the team with 26 goals on the season and ranks second in overall points with 57 in 62 games. Ty was the named the ‘First-Star’ of last night’s contest, recording one goal and two assists. He is also carrying a three-game point streak into the Thursday’s tilt. Connor Roberts sits third on the squad with 18 goals and 16 helpers for 34 total points.

From the blue-line, defenseman Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) leads all defenders on the squad with 30 points in 41 games with Flint this season. In last Saturday’s contest against Sudbury, Jalen recorded his 100th career OHL point. Ethan Keppen leads all Flint rookies in goals, recording his ninth of the campaign in yesterday’s victory.

In net, Garrett Forrest carries a 4.68 goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage of .866 (SAV%). Forrest has appeared in 42 games and earned 12 wins, including Saturday night’s 3 – 2 win over the Wolves. Backup Luke Cavallin has a 4.08 GAA and a .877 SAV% in 27 appearances. Luke now has seven wins in his rookie season as the league’s highest-drafted goaltender from the 2017 OHL 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 eight first-time eligible players to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft in June 2018.

Niagara IceDogs (29-23-7-3, 2nd Central Division):
The IceDogs are led by Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native Sam Miletic (Pittsburgh Penguins). He leads the squad in goals (33), assists (53) and overall points with 86 in 59 games played. He has seven points in his past four games and ranks fifth overall in the OHL in total points. Akil Thomas ranks second in scoring for Niagara with 72 points in 62 games played. He is tied for fourth in the OHL with 23 power-play assists this season. Ben Jones (Vegas Golden Knights) sits third with 68 points in 62 games.

In net, Stephen Dhillon enters the contest with a 3.41 goals against average (GAA) and a .896 save percentage (SAV%). Dhillon has 24 wins and one shutout on the season. Back-up netminder Colton Incze has played in 20 games this season and carries a 2.88 goals against average (GAA) and a .912 save percentage (SAV%). Incze has five wins thus far in his rookie season.

NHL: Niagara has three players with NHL ties consisting of Ben Jones (Vegas Golden Knights), Kirill Maksimov (Edmonton Oilers) and Sam Militec (Pittsburgh Penguins). Additionally, Akil Thomas was named to the NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft.

 

Broadcast Coverage:
Thursday evening’s contest in Niagara 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 in Niagara on YourTV channel 10 / 700 (HD) for Cogeco TV cable subscribers and across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 435 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and 476 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 Thursday’s game, 65 of the Firebirds’ 68 games throughout the 2017-18 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 2017-18 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, $179.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $279.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2017-18 season.

 

 

Next Home Game:
With only three home games remaining this season, the Firebirds return to the Dort Federal Event Center to host the London Knights this Saturday, Mar. 10 at 7 p.m. (ET). Saturday marks the Firebirds’ annual firefighter and host family appreciation night.

Saturday’s ‘Firefighter Appreciation Night’ is sponsored by Dort Federal Credit Union and features a $5 discounted silver level ticket for all firefighter personnel with valid ID at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office.

In addition, the Firebirds are teaming up with the Whaley Children’s Center (WCC) for a donation drive where fans can bring in five or more personal hygiene items to receive a complimentary Silver Level ticket, sponsored by Landaal Packaging & View Newspaper Group in Mich. and Oasis Outsourcing in Sarasota, Fla,  while supplies last. Whaley’s has a great need for a variety of personal hygiene products including shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, feminine products, ethnic hair care, hair detangler, deodorant, towels, wash clothes, hair ties, underwear, socks, Nair, sunscreen, bug spray and facial cleansing clothes.

Firebirds’ players host families will be honored and recognized prior to puck drop Saturday night. The players come to Flint from all over the world, near and far, from Detroit and Ashburn, Virginia to Toronto, Ontario, Moscow, Russia and Farchant, Germany. Host families provide the Firebirds with with amazing support and accommodations all season long.

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.

 

For more information:

Dominic Hennig
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
dominic@flintfirebirds.com
(810) 519-9347

 

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