Preview: Firebirds & Otters Battle in Erie, Penn. Saturday Night
Erie, Penn. – The Firebirds (4-1-0-1) continue their three-game road trip Saturday night as the club faces off against the Erie Otters (2-3-0-0). Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Erie Insurance Arena (capacity 6,833).
Flint and the Erie split the season series last year. The Otters recorded a 3-2 shootout victory in Erie on Oct. 3 before the Firebirds rallied for a 6-5 triumph in Flint on Nov. 22 at the Dort Federal Event Center. The Otters secured the following match on February 18 in Flint but the Firebirds returned the favor in the most recent contest, posting a 5-3 win in Erie on Mar. 9.
Players to watch:
After earning a point in Friday night’s shootout in Mississauga, the Firebirds are currently in second place in the OHL’s West Division with nine points in six games. Ryan Moore scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season last night, extending his point streak to six consecutive games. Moore is leading the league in points with six goals and nine assists in those six games. Nicholas Caamano (Dallas Stars) is second in the OHL in points with five goals and nine assists in six games played. Both Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) are riding three-game point streaks since returning from their respective NHL camps. Sherwood has four goals and three assists and Smereck has tallied five assists.
In net, Connor Hicks is coming off his first shootout loss with the Firebirds but had his best performance of the season, making 40 saves on 42 shots. Overall, he is 2-0-0-1 on the season with a 3.22 GAA and a .914 SAV%. In one game this season, Garrett Forrest has a 1-0-0-0 record, with a 0.00 GAA and a 1.00 SAV%
NHL: The Firebirds currently have two players that have signed contracts with NHL clubs. Forward Kole Sherwood signed a three-year NHL contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets (July 2015) and defenseman Jalen Smereck signed a three-year NHL contract with the Arizona Coyotes (October 2016). Flint’s Nicholas Caamano was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the most recent NHL Draft in June 2016. Along with Caamano, Sherwood and Smereck, four more Flint Firebirds competed in NHL training camps this fall: Everett Clark (St. Louis Blues), Connor Hicks (Detroit Red Wings), Luke Kirwan (Detroit Red Wings) and Alex Peters (Carolina Hurricanes).
Samuel Duchesne, Jake Durham, Fedor Gordeev and Jack Phibbs are first-time eligible players to be selected in the NHL Draft in June 2017.
The Otters are coming off their highest scoring outing yet after posting a 6-0 victory over the Oshawa Generals last night, improving to 2-0 on home ice in Erie. The Otters currently sit in fourth place in the Midwest Division with four points in five games. Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks) may be the Otters’ most impressive player. He has two goals and three assists for five points in two games. Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay Lightning) leads the team in scoring with two goals and five assists for seven points in three games. Second on the Otters is Ivan Lodnia, who is a top prospect for the upcoming NHL draft. Lodnia has four goals and two assists in four games this season. Kyle Maksimovich is tied for second on the Otters roster with six assists in five games.
Between-the-pipes for the Otters are Jake Lawr and Troy Timpano. This season, Lawr has posted a 3.76 GAA and a .850 SAV% while recording one win and three losses. Timpano played in the 6-0 victory last night improving his record to 1-0-0-0, with a 0.00 GAA and a 1.00 SAV%.
NHL: Five players on the Otters have been drafted by NHL clubs. Alex DeBrincat (Chicago Blackhawks), Kyle Pettie (Vancouver Canucks), Taylor Raddysh (Tampa Bay Lightning), Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes) and Jordan Sambrook (Detroit Red Wings).
Saturday’s contest against the Erie Otters can be heard live at www.wtrxsports.com or on the Sports Xtra 1330 Radio app here. Pregame coverage with Dominic Hennig will begin at 6:30 p.m. Additionally, the game will be televised live throughout the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 460 for cable TV subscribers. Fans can also watch the game live online at www.ohllive.com or on the OHL Live App.
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