Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds were in Windsor last night and continue the weekend stanza Friday evening on home-ice against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint.
Of note, for the past 62 years since 1957, the cities of Flint, Michigan and Hamilton, Ontario have partnered for the CANUSA Games (Canada vs. USA), providing the youth (and adults) of both cities an opportunity to participate in international friendship Games. During that time, the two cities have officially become “sister cities” which are cities that partner with each other to promote human contact and cultural links.
Ironically, six Flint Firebirds have ties to Hamilton. Two Flint skaters suited up for the Bulldogs before being acquired by Flint: Riley McCourt and Connor Roberts. Jake Durham was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 OHL Draft by Hamilton, but was signed as a free agent by the Firebirds. Jack Phibbs (Hagersville), Jack Wismer (Stoney Creek) and assistant coach Garrett Rutledge (Waterdown) all reside within 30 miles (or 52 kilometers) from the Bulldogs’ rink. More so, in the past three seasons since September 28th, 2016, Flint and Hamilton has also completed four different trades, sending five Firebirds to Hamilton (Bitten, Caamano, Jeník, Mattinen & Moore) while also receiving four Bulldogs (Gordeev, Hicks, McCourt & Roberts) in those transactions.
Friday marks the second of two meetings between the clubs this season, and the only tilt in Flint. The two teams have always played each other tight. Earlier this season, the Bulldogs skated to a 4 – 2 decision over the Firebirds in Hamilton. Last season, each team won in their home building by a final score of 4-3. Flint’s all-time record in the series is 2-3-1-1, with a home record of 2-0-1-0. In seven total meetings since Flint’s inception into the OHL, every battle has been settled by two goals or fewer. Five of the seven games were decided by a single goal, with two meetings requiring overtime and one needing a shootout.
Most recently, the Firebirds dropped a close game Thursday night in Windsor (watch highlights). Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) made his highly-anticipated return to the lineup, picking up two points and earning ‘Second-Star’ honors. Jacob Winterton scored his eighth goal. Emmet Pierce scored his first career goal in his very first contest in OHL. Cody Morgan also had a milestone game, picking up an assist in the 100th OHL game of his career. Morgan was acquired from Windsor last week. Hamilton was off Thursday after surrendering a 3-1 defeat in Saginaw.
On special teams, Flint is 15th in the 20-team OHL with the power-play on home ice, scoring on 18.2% of their opportunities. Hamilton ranks second on the road, converting at 27.3% while on the man-advantage. When shorthanded at home, the Firebirds are ranked 20th, successfully kill penalties at 63.6%. The Bulldogs are 17th on the penalty-kill in away games, shutting down the opposition at a 74.2% clip.
Friday continues the “Firebirds Fight Hunger” month. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to the Firebirds’ merchandise store, The Birds Nest, at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a complimentary Silver Level ticket, courtesy of Dort Federal Credit Union, AMD Urgent Care, Captain’s Quarters Lounge, Little Caesars Pizza and Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) Flint.
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 Credit Union Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (7-33-2-0, 5th West Division):
Jake Durham leads the Firebirds in goals and total points, and is on a point-per-game pace for the season. Durham has 26 goals and 16 assists for 42 total points in 42 games played. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) is second in offensive production and maintains a point-per-game average. He has five assists in the past two contests. In 36 games-played, Dellandrea has 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 total points. Second-year forward Ethan Keppen scored his 13th of the campaign in Windsor, and now has 29 points in 42 games. He has points in four straight games (3G, 1A), six points in his past six games and has scored a goal in three of four.
First-year defender Vladislav Kolyachonok scored his first OHL goal Sunday, and now has six points (1G, 5A) in the past three games. In 30 games with the Firebirds, Kolyachonok has 21 total points (1G, 20A). The newest additions to the Flint lineup have wasted no time contributing to the score sheet. Rearguard Tyler Deline has a point in three games with the ‘Birds. Cody Morgan has two points in four tilts. Emmet Pierce made his first appearance in the OHL last night and scored. Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) earned two assists in his first game of the season as well.
Veteran goaltender Emanuel Vella carries a 5.11 goals-against average (GAA) and a .867 SAV% in 26 appearances. Sophomore netminder Luke Cavallin picked up his third and fourth wins in back-to-back starts last weekend. He now has four wins along with a 5.16 GAA and a .861 SAV% across 22 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 and Kolyachonok were named to November’s NHL Central Scouting’s North American ‘Players to Watch’ list.
Hamilton Bulldogs (18-19-3-1, 4th East Division):
Arthur Kaliyev tops the Bulldogs in points production. In 41 games, he has racked up 31 goals and 32 assists, including 18 multi-point games. His 63 points are the fourth-most in OHL, and his 31 goals have him tied for fourth overall. Matthew Strome (Philadelphia Flyers) ranks second with 46 points (17G, 29A) in 41 games. Overage forward Eric Henderson recently joined the Hamilton squad from Oshawa, and now ranks third with 11 tallies and 19 helpers in 40 games.
Kade Landry leads the defensive squad for Hamilton with two goals and 28 assists in 39 games. Landry has seven points (7A) in the past six games, and his 11 power-play assists are the league’s second-most. First-year winger Avery Hayes hails from Westland, Mich. and currently tops the newcomers on the team with 11 points (5G, 6A) over 38 games-played.
Between the pipes, Ypsilanti, Mich. native Nick Donofrio has appeared in 21 games and earned eight victories. For the season, Donofrio has a 3.96 goals-against average (GAA) and a save-percentage (SAV%) of .874. First-year netminder Zachary Roy has made 22 appearances, picking up ten wins. He carries a 3.32 GAA and a .898 SAV%.
NHL: The Bulldogs have two players with NHL ties on their squad, including Matthew Strome (Philadelphia Flyers) and Jan Jeník (Arizona Coyotes). Additionally, Arthur Kaliyev was listed on the November NHL Central Scouting’s North American ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming NHL Draft.
Friday evening’s contest 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 with pre-game coverage beginning 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.
The game will be televised live in Hamilton on Channel 14 / 814 (HD) for both Rogers TV & Cogeco TV cable subscribers. Across the province of Ontario, the contest will be aired on the OHL Action Pak on channel 446 for both Rogers TV and 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. 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 2018-19 season.
Blue Line Club Menu:
Presented by Great Lakes Sandwich Co & Cafe, Friday evening’s dinner menu for the Blue Line Club features pork tenderloin, scalloped potatoes, spaghetti with meat sauce, garden salad and dinner rolls. The menu is available to all sponsors and season ticket holders for $12 per person. Dinner RSVP’s are encouraged by emailing Karla Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds are on home ice Saturday, hosting the Sarnia Sting for a 7 p.m. battle at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center. The game marks the fourth-annual “Firebirds Backpack Night.” In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, there will be a silent auction for 12 authentic custom Firebirds’ player backpacks, which will be stitched with Flint Firebirds players’ last name, number and the Firebirds’ logo. There will be a minimum retail value of $250 worth of products or services inside each bag from local sponsors on the arena concourse. Please visit the Foodbank table on the concourse to view the auction packages and learn how to bid. The link is bidpal.net/FFH and the auction will end on 1/30/19. A donation of $100 can feed a child for an entire school year. All 50/50 proceeds on this night will benefit The School Backpack Program.
The game also continues the “Firebirds Fight Hunger” month. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to the Firebirds’ merchandise store, ‘The Birds Nest,’ at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a complimentary sponsored Silver Level ticket to any home Firebirds’ game in the month of January, courtesy of Dort Federal Credit Union, AMD Urgent Care, Captain’s Quarters Lounge, Little Caesars Pizza and Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) Flint.
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.
Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor / Hamilton Bulldogs
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club