Preview: Firebirds & Spirit set to battle in front of expected sell-out crowd in Saginaw Saturday
|Flint Firebirds (16-29-3-1) at Saginaw Spirit (24-19-6-0)|
|Date | Time||Saturday, Feb. 3 | 7:30 p.m.|
|Location||Saginaw, Mich. | Dow Event Center (capacity 5,527)|
|Tickets||Online | (989) 497-7747|
|TV||– OHL Action Pak: Rogers TV 448 & Cogeco TV 448 Live (Ontario)
– CW WBSF: Charter ch. 17 / 717 (HD) & Comcast ch. 15 / 236 (HD) Sunday at 3 p.m. (Mid-Michigan)
– Firebirds Broadcast Coverage
|Video Stream||OHL Live|
|Radio||WQUS 103.1 FM (Flint & Mid-Michigan) | Pregame Show: 7:00p|
|Radio (Mobile)||US 103 App: Android | iPhone/iPad|
|Next Home Game||Wednesday, Feb. 14 (Date Night / College Night)|
|Social Media||@FlintFirebirds | Facebook | Instagram|
Saginaw, Mich. – Presented by Coors Light, the Flint Firebirds and Saginaw Spirit are set to square off in an I-75 Divide Cup battle Saturday night in Saginaw. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at an expected sold-out Dow Event Center (capacity 5,527). Firebirds’ fans making the short drive north for tonight’s game are encouraged to wear orange to show support of the Firebirds.
As of noon on Saturday, less than 300 tickets remained for the Flint and Saginaw contest. For ticket information, call (989) 497-7747 or (989) 759-1330.
The Flint Firebirds enter Saturday night’s tilt on a three-game winning-streak after posting consecutive victories against the Windsor Spitfires, Saginaw Spirit and fourth-ranked Sarnia Sting.
Wednesday’s tilt is the seventh of eight games scheduled between the Firebirds and Spirit this season, and the final contest in Saginaw. The Firebirds hold an 11-9-0-2 all-time record against Saginaw. Flint successfully secured the Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup for the first two seasons of its existence after notching identical 5-2-0-1 records in the past two years. Saginaw has captured the cup this year for the first time and hold a 5-1 record against Flint this campaign.
At least 16 of the 31 NHL teams had scouts in the building Wednesday night, with an estimated 30+ NHL scouts in attendance to watch the Firebirds and Spirit battle in Flint.
On special teams, the Firebirds have scored a power-play goal in three straight games and 13 of their past 16 contests. They are now operating at 16.8%. The Spirit’s man-advantage finds success on 15.5% of their chances after scoring two power-play goals last night in Sault Ste. Marie. The Firebirds’ penalty-kill unit was perfect in four chances over the league’s best power-play last night and are now at 74.7% this season. The Spirit’s penalty-kill is 14th in the OHL at 77.8%.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (16-29-3-1, 5th West Division):
Maurizio Colella and Ty Dellandrea are tied for the team lead in points, each with 43. Dellandrea has the most goals on the squad with 21. He rides a four-game point-streak into tonight’s contest, having earned four goals and four assists in that time. On Wednesday night, Dellandrea scored both regulation goals, including the game-tying tally with 54 seconds remaining that led to the eventual overtime win over the Spirit. Colella leads all Firebirds in assists, with 26. He has picked up at least one point in 10 of his past 12 games, including last night’s overtime game-winning goal. Connor Roberts ranks third on the team in scoring with 14 goals and 11 helpers for 25 total points. He rides a three-game point-streak into tonight’s contest.
Detroit, Mich. native Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) and Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) are tied for the lead among all defenseman with 19 points. Smereck is also on a three-game point-streak, earning three assists in that time. Last night, Smereck’s slap shot from the blue line was tipped in front by Roberts to tie the contest at one in the second period. Gordeev has three points in the past three games.
Riley McCourt leads all rookies on the Firebirds roster with 14 points on the season. He has three goals and 11 assists in 36 games played. Since the Firebirds acquired McCourt in a trade with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Riley has earned five points in 11 games as a defenseman.
Between the pipes, Rookie Luke Cavallin earned his fifth career OHL win last night. He made 37 saves on 39 shots faced, including a stop on Sarnia’s only overtime shot. In 19 games, the highest selected goaltender of the 2017 OHL Priority Draft has a 3.82 goals against average (GAA) and a .877 save percentage (SAV%). Garrett Forrest has played in 35 games, and on Wednesday night he backstopped Flint to his first win over Saginaw this season. Forrest leads the Firebirds with 11 wins and has a 4.59 goals against average (GAA) and a .867 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.
Saginaw Spirit (24-19-6-0, 3rd West Division):
Saginaw has plenty of offensive firepower with three players exceeding 40 points this season. Defenseman Marcus Crawford and forward Cole Coskey share the team lead with 44 points. Coskey leads all Spirit players in goals with 24. Crawford holds the team-lead in assists with 33. Both of them have played 49 games this season. Mason Kohn is third with 41 points in 45 games. Damien Giroux and rookie Blade Jenkins each have 34 points this season. Jenkins hails from nearby Jackson, Mich.
In net, Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils) has appeared in 43 games this season and leads the team with 19 wins. Last night, Cormier made six saves on nine shots before being replaced by Cameron Lamour near the midway point of the second period. For the season, Cormier carries a the 10th-best GAA in the league at 3.17 while holding a .899 save percentage (SAV%). Cameron Lamour has five wins in 13 games with a 4.10 goals against average and a .869 save percentage (SAV%). In relief of Cormier last night, Lamour made 13 saves on 14 shots to help force overtime against the top-ranked Soo Greyhounds.
NHL: The Saginaw Spirit have four players with NHL ties including, Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils), Brady Gilmour (Detroit Red Wings), Keaton Middleton (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Reilly Webb (Detroit Red Wings).
11 notable Spirit alumni to play in the NHL are Cody Bass, Paul Bissonnette, T.J. Brodie, Matt Corrente, Jan Mursak, Jamie Oleksiak, Dalton Prout, Tom Pyatt, Brandon Saad, Chris Thorburn and Vincent Trocheck.
Saturday evening’s contest against the Saginaw Spirit 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 35 minutes prior to puck drop at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday’s game against the Spirit will also be televised live province-wide throughout Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 448 for both Rogers TV cable subscribers 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. Through Saginaw’s partnership, the game will be re-broadcast on CW WBSF Charter channel 17 / 717 (HD) & Comcast channel 15 / 236 (HD) Sunday at 3 p.m. throughout Mid-Michigan. Along with Saturday’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.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Hoffman
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