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Preview: Firebirds Look to Snap Greyhounds’ Winning-Streak Tonight in the Soo

Flint Firebirds (11-20-3-0) at Soo Greyhounds (30-3-2-0)
Date | Time Friday, Dec. 29 | 7:07 p.m.
Location Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. | Essar Centre (capacity 4,928)
Tickets Online | (866) 775-9422
TV – None
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, Jan. 6: Firebirds’ Fight Hunger
Social Media @FlintFirebirds   | Facebook | Instagram

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – After posting a 3-2 victory over the London Knights in front of a sold out crowd of more than 4,400 fans at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint last night, the Firebirds traveled to Sault Ste. Marie for a Friday night tilt against the Greyhounds. Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. at the Essar Centre.

The Firebirds have won their previous two games, posting victories over the Sarnia Sting and London Knights. The Greyhounds enter Friday night’s contest on an OHL-best 21-game winning-streak. After splitting the season series 3-3 last campaign, the Greyhounds hold a 3-0 record against the Firebirds this season and are 1-0 on home-ice. Friday’s game marks the fourth of six games between the Firebirds and Greyhounds this season and second of three in the Soo.

After committing to the Firebirds’ organization Wednesday night, Eric Uba may make his first appearance in a Firebirds’ uniform Friday night. A native of Kitchener, Ont., Uba was heavily recruited with NCAA options before choosing to continue his hockey and academic development in Flint. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound right-winger has notched 21 points (8G, 13A) in 37 games with the Wellington Dukes of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) this season (read more).

The Greyhounds will be missing two players Friday night as Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Conor Timmins (Colorado Avalanche) are representing Canada at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY.

On special teams, the Greyhounds hold the league’s fifth-best average, scoring on 24.3% of their opportunities. Their penalty kill ranks sixth in the OHL, finding success 82.7% of the time. Flint has scored on 14.1% of their chances with the man advantage, including a power-play goal by C.J. Clarke last night. The Firebirds’ penalty kill is finding success 72.2% of the time, including a perfect one-for-one against London on home ice yesterday.

 

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (11-20-3-0, 5th West Division):
Maurizio Colella leads all Firebirds in points with 27, including 12 goals, in 33 games played this season. He picked up first star honors last night after scoring the lone shootout goal for Flint’s first victory over the London Knights. Ty Dellandrea is second on the Firebirds’ roster with 26 points (12G, 14A) in 34 games. Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) has tallied 20 points (5G, 15A) in 30 games from the blue line, and leads all defensemen on the squad in points.

C.J. Clarke scored the game-tying goal against London Thursday night. It was his sixth tally of the season which matches his career-high a season ago.

Between-the-pipes, Garrett Forrest has played in 27 of the Firebirds’ games this season. Forrest has a 4.58 goals-against average (GAA) and a .867 save percentage (SAV%). Forrest has backstopped Flint to nine of eleven wins in net. Rookie goaltender Luke Cavallin earned his second-career OHL victory at home Thursday in the shootout over London. He has appeared in eleven games this season, and carries a 4.42 goals against average (GAA) and a .859 save percentage (SAV%). Cavallin was the highest selected goaltender in the 2017 OHL Priority Draft.

NHL: The Firebirds have three players that have been drafted by NHL teams consisting of Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes), Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs). Additionally, Dennis Busby, Ty Dellandrea, Hunter Holmes, Ryan Littlejohn, Evan Morrison, Connor Roberts and Jack Wismer are seven first time eligible players to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft in June 2018. Busby, Dellandrea, Holmes, Roberts, and Wismer were listed among NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft.

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (30-3-2-0, 1st West Division)
Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers) leads the Greyhounds with 20 goals and 36 assists for 56 points in 34 games played. For the last week before the OHL’s holiday break, Frost was named the ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week, earning eight points (4G, 4A) and a plus-9 rating in three games. For the season, he leads the league in plus/minus at an impressive plus-43. He also ranks second in the OHL in points and assists, and leads the league in insurance goals, with six. With the absence of Katchouk, Mac Hollowell will enter the contest second in points with 36 (8G, 28A), leading all blue-liners on the team. Jack Kopacka (Anaheim Ducks), who hails from nearby Metamora, MI, sits third with 33 points (19G, 14A).

In goal, Matthew Villalta (Los Angeles Kings) is ranked second in the OHL among goaltenders with eight or more starts with a 2.43 goals against average and has a .911 SAV% in 25 games played. He leads all netminders in the league with 22 wins, including Thursday’s victory in Saginaw. In 15 appearances this season, back-up netminder Tyler Johnson has posted a 2.66 GAA and a SAV% of 91.1%.

NHL: The Greyhounds have seven players that have NHL ties as well, including Noah Carroll (Carolina Hurricanes), Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers), Tim Gettinger (New York Rangers), Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning), Jack Kopacka (Anaheim Ducks), Conor Timmins (Colorado Avalanche) and Matthew Vilalta (Los Angeles Kings). Additionally Barrett Hayton and Rasmus Sandin we’re named to the NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft.

25 notable Greyhounds’ alumni to play in the NHL are Jeff Beukeboom, Bob Boughner, Jeff Carter, Dan Clouthier, Paul Coffey, Trevor Daley, Ray Emery, Adam Foote, Ron Francis, Wayne Gretzky, Craig Hartsburg, Ric Jackman, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy, Denny Lambert, Greg Millen, Ted Nolan, Nathan Perrott, Bob Probert, Wayne Simmons, Brad Staubitz, Steve Sullivan, Joe Thornton, Rick Tocchet, John Vanbiesbrouk, and Josef Vasick.

Broadcast Coverage:
Friday evening’s contest against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 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.

Friday’s game is one of only three games on the 68-game schedule that will not have live television coverage.

However, 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:
The Flint Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Event Center next Saturday, Jan. 6 to start off the Firebirds’ Fight Hunger month. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) vs. the Erie Otters. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to any Firebirds’ home game in the month of January to receive a complimentary sponsored silver level ticket, limit of four tickets per person.

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 ticket information, flex tickets or group outings, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (810) 701-8536 or email domg@flintfirebirds.com. To book a private suite, please contact Karla Turner at (810) 744-0580 ext. 213 or email karla@flintfirebirds.com.

 

For more information:

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

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