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Preview: Firebirds Battle the Battalion Thursday in North Bay

Flint Firebirds (16-30-3-1) at North Bay Battalion (23-21-6-1)
Date | Time Thursday, Feb. 8 | 7:00 p.m.
Location North Bay, Ont. | North Bay Memorial Gardens (capacity 4,043)
Tickets Online | (705) 495-8603
TV – YourTV channel 12 / 700 HD Live (North Bay)
– OHL Action Pak: Rogers TV 438 & Cogeco TV 479 Live (Ontario)
Complete Broadcast Coverage
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 Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Carload Night)
Social Media @FlintFirebirds   | Facebook  | Instagram 

North Bay, Ont. – The Flint Firebirds headed North Wednesday night to prepare for a Thursday evening contest against the Eastern Conference’s North Bay Battalion. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at the North Bay Memorial Gardens (capacity 4,043).

The will be the first of ‘three games in three nights’ in the northern part of Ontario for the Firebirds, which will include a Friday night battle against the Sudbury Wolves and wrap-up with a Saturday night tilt against the Barrie Colts.

Thursday marks the second and final meeting against the Battalion. This season, North Bay posted the initial victory in Flint, 5-1, on Nov. 3 at the Dort Federal Event Center. The Firebirds had 42 shots on goal that evening but goaltender Julian Sime was almost unbeatable. For his effort that night, Sime was named as the first star of the game.

All-time, this is the sixth meeting between the Firebirds and Battalion with North Bay having a 1-4 record thus far. Flint’s lone-win came last season at home.

The Battalion are 4-1-1 in their past six games and are 10-2-1 in their past 13. North Bay is currently in third place in the Central Division with a 23-21-6-1 record and are sixth in the Eastern Conference.

The Firebirds have been hot, winning three out of their last four games, including an impressive 3-2 win at home over the CHL’s fourth-ranked team the Sarnia Sting last Friday night. The Firebirds have been extremely tough on the CHL’s top-ranked teams this season, with seven of Flint’s 16 wins coming against teams in the CHL Top-10 Rankings. The Firebirds have won two games against teams that came into the contest ranked number one in the 60-team CHL: First, Flint beat the Sting 5-3 on Nov. 15 when they were the top ranked team coming in before recording a 4-2 win over the Greyhounds on Jan. 20.

The Firebirds have five members on their team that have a previous history with the Battalion organization. The Brampton (Ont.) Battalion moved to the City of North Bay in the 2013 off-season. Head Coach Ryan Oulahen played for Brampton from 2002-05 before being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2003 NHL Draft. Oulahen than coached alongside current Battalion Head Coach Stan Butler for six seasons with Brampton from 2010-2013 and North Bay from 2013-2016 prior to taking the job in Flint during the 2016 off-season. Associate Coach Paul Flache played for Brampton from 1999-02 before being drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, in 2002. Flache was hired by the Firebirds this past off-season in the summer of 2017. Additionally, Firebirds’ forward Maurizio Colella was acquired in a trade with the Battalion on Jan. 6, 2017 and forward Max Kislinger was acquired on June 20. Goaltender Garrett Forrest was selected by North Bay in the 2013 OHL Draft and was acquired by the Firebirds on Aug. 22, 2016.

On special teams, the Firebirds are on the up-swing. The power-play has been very consistent, scoring goals in 13 of their last 16 games, including two goals with the man-advantage in their most recent game this past Saturday against in-state rival the Saginaw Spirit. Flint is clicking at 17.5% overall. On the penalty-kill the Firebirds were successful in their past two games killing off seven of eight chances and are 74.7% overall shorthanded. For North Bay, the Battalion’s power-play is ranked 13th with a 20.0% successful rate. The Battalion penalty-kill is ranked fourth in the OHL at 81.4%.

 

Players to Watch

Flint Firebirds (16-30-3-1, 5th West Division):
Maurizio Colella leads the Firebirds with 45 points in 49 games this season. The former North Bay Battalion skater has posted three multi-point games in his last four outings. Ty Dellandrea leads the team in goals with 22, including a pair last weekend, and is second on the Firebirds’ roster with 44 points. Dellandrea is riding a five-game point-streak (5G, 4A) and has recorded multi-point nights in six of his last eight games. Connor Roberts is third with 26 points (14G, 12A) in 48 games. Roberts is in the midst of a four-game point-streak. Also notable, Roberts scored 11 goals in 85 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Since being acquired in a trade on Nov. 25, Roberts scored 11 goals in 25 games with Flint.

Firebirds captain Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) leads all defenseman with 20 points (6G, 14A) in 28 games. Smereck is on a four-game point-streak and has points in 11 of his last 13 games. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) is second among Firebirds’ defense with 19 points this season. Gordeev leads the team in PIM’s with 82. Riley McCourt leads all rookies with 15 points. McCourt has registered two goals and six points in twelve games with the Firebirds since he was acquired from the Hamilton Bulldogs. Ethan Keppen leads all rookies with seven goals this season.

In net, Garrett Forrest has registered 11 wins for the Firebirds this season and is the Firebirds all-time leader in wins with 24 and the team’s all-time saves leader. Forrest has a 4.55 goals-against average (GAA) and a .868 save percentage (SAV%). Rookie Luke Cavallin picked up his fifth-career OHL win last weekend beating the Sarnia Sting. In 19 games, Cavallin has 3.82 goals-against average (GAA) and a .877 save percentage (SAV%).

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 seven first-time eligible players to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft in June 2018.

North Bay Battalion (23-21-6-1, 3rd Central Division):
The Troops have two players who have hit the half century mark in points this season. Justin Brazeau leads the team with 57 points and his 31 goals is also tops for the Battalion. Brazeau has points in his last two games. Luke Burghardt is second on the team with 53 points and is the team leader in assists with 30.

Adam Thilander leads all Battalion defenseman in points with 30. Brandon Cole leads all rookies on the team in goals with seven, assists with 10 and points with 17.

In addition to Thilander the Battalion have six other players who have 20 plus points this season. Matthew Struthers (28), Jake Henderson (25), Brad Chenier (24), Andy Baker (23), Kyle Potts (23) and Adam McMaster with 23.

In net, Julian Sime leads the team in games played with 28. He has nine wins and a 3.20 goals-against (GAA) along with a .900 save-percentage (SAV%). Christian Propp, leads the Battalion with 12 wins, 11 of those with the Battalion, after he was acquired from the Barrie Colts earlier this season. Propp has a 2.95 goals-against average (GAA) and a .904 save percentage (SAV%).

NHL: North Bay has one player with NHL ties. Defenseman Riley Bruce was selected by the Calgary Flames in the seventh round (196 overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Three notable North Bay Battalion alumni to play in the NHL are Michael Amadio, Barclay Goodrow and Nick Paul. Dating back to the Brampton Battalion, seven notable alums to play in the NHL are Brent Burns, Sam Carrick, Matt Duchene, Thomas McCollum, Jason Spezza, Raffi Torres and Wojtek Wolski.

 

Broadcast Coverage:
Thursday evening’s contest against the North Bay Battalion 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 North Bay on YourTV channel 12 / 700 (HD) for Cogeco cable subscribers. In addition, the game will be televised province-wide throughout Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 438 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 479 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 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:
Spend your Valentine’s Day with the Firebirds this Wednesday, Feb. 14 for ‘Carload Night.’ Sponsored by Black Rock Bar & Grill in Davison, ‘Carload Night’ allows fans to load up friends, co-workers and family members in one vehicle for a flat rate of $35. Cars, mini-vans, RVs, campers and buses are welcome! One price of $35, plus parking, for all vehicles translates into reserved silver level admission for all guests in the vehicle.  The Firebirds remind all fans to be safe and responsible and make sure that everyone is buckled up inside the vehicle. Wednesday is also the Firebirds’ “Boots for Kids” donation drive. Fans who donate a new pair of boots to the Firebirds’ Merchandise Store will receive a complimentary sponsored silver level ticket. Additionally, it’s “College Night,” featuring $2 beers and hot dogs for all fans in attendance. All college students with valid identification will also receive $2 off admission.

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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