Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds are back in action for a double-header this weekend beginning Saturday night when the club hosts the Sudbury Wolves. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center.
Saturday marks the first of two meetings between these clubs this season, and the only contest on the Firebirds’ home ice. To date, Sudbury does not have a regulation win over the Firebirds in Flint. Flint is 2-0-1-0 on home ice since the team’s inception into the OHL at the start of the 2015-16 season. The Firebirds have a 4-1-1-0 record all-time against the Wolves. Last season, the only meeting in Flint was a 3-2 overtime victory for the Firebirds in front of a near capacity crowd 3,500 fans. The contest featured more than 30 penalty minutes, a spirited third-period scuffle, and home-team goals by Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs).
Sudbury enters the contest on a five-game winless streak. Most recently, the Wolves dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to the Spitfires in Windsor Thursday. The Firebirds have won two of their past five contests, posting victories over Windsor and Kingston.
Saturday, the Firebirds completed a trade with the Guelph Storm. The Firebirds traded defenseman Fedor Gordeev to the Guelph. In return, Flint acquired Mississauga’s second-round pick in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection and Guelph’s second-round pick in the 2024 OHL Priority Selection, in addition to two conditional picks should Gordeev play his overage year next season: Sudbury’s third-round pick in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection and Guelph’s fifth-round pick in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection.
On special teams, Sudbury has the 15th-best road power play, converting on 14.7% of their opportunities. The Firebirds similarly rank 15th at home, scoring 16.7% of the time with the man-advantage. The Wolves have killed 73.5% of their penalties in away games successfully, compared to Flint’s home penalty-kill rate of 62.5% this season.
Saturday 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 Saturday’s game, and 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 Credit Union Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (5-32-2-0, 5th West Division):
Flint is led by a pair of forwards who hail from Port Perry, Ontario, consisting of team captain Ty Dellandrea and assistant captain Jake Durham. Durham leads the team in goals-scored with 23, and total points with 37 points in 39 games-played. He has posted 10 multi-point events in the campaign. Dellandrea leads the Firebirds with 20 assists, and now has 33 points (13G, 20A) in 33 games. Eric Uba and Ethan Keppen are tied for third on the club, each with 26 points. Uba has 14 goals and 12 helpers in 38 games, and Keppen has 11 tallies and 15 assists in 39 games.
On Wednesday, Ethan Keppen scored his career-high 11th goal of the season, assisted by newly-acquired forward Cody Morgan (from Windsor Spitfires), who was playing in his first game with Flint. Another new face will wear #44 for the Firebirds beginning Saturday. Tyler Deline, a native of Peterborough, Ont., was Flint’s sixth-round pick in the 2018 OHL Draft. He has played AAA Midget hockey with the Clarington Toros (OMHA-ETA) this season, and recorded two points in four games with the Pickering Panthers (OJHL) in Junior A competition this season.
First-year forward Jacob Winterton leads all newcomers with seven goals-scored, and he has 15 total points through 39 matches. With the departure of Gordeev, Vladislav Kolyachonok leads all Firebirds’ defenseman in points. Kolyachonok has recorded 15 points, all assists, in 27 games played this season.
Overage netminder Emanuel Vella holds a 5.15 goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage (SAV%) of .868 across 25 appearances. Second-year goaltender Luke Cavallin has a 5.52 GAA and a .853 SAV% after appearing in 20 contests. Vella and Cavallin each have two wins between the pipes.
NHL: The Firebirds have three players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs). In addition, seven Flint Firebirds are first-time eligible skaters for the upcoming NHL Draft in June: Luke Cavallin, Kyle Harris, Ethan Keppen, Vladislav Kolyachonok, Cody Morgan, Eric Uba and Jacob Winterton. Cavallin, Keppen and Kolyachonok were named to November’s NHL Central Scouting’s North American ‘Players to Watch’ list.
Sudbury Wolves (21-12-2-1, 2nd Central Division):
Three first-round draft picks lead the Wolves in scoring. David Levin was the first overall draft pick in the first round of the 2015 OHL Priority Selection, and is in his fourth season with the Wolves. He currently leads the team in goals (16), assists (20) and total points, with 36 in 35 games-played. 2018’s first overall pick was Quinton Byfield, who has 15 tallies and 31 total points through 32 contests. Blake Murray ranks third in scoring with 24 points (14G, 10A) in 35 games. Murray was the Wolves’ first round pick (seventh overall) taken in the 2017 OHL Draft.
Liam Ross leads Sudbury’s defensive unit with 3 goals and 14 assists through 36 games. The Wolves also feature a set of twins from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. named Darian and Drake Pilon. The brothers were signed as free agents prior to the 2016-17 season. Darian plays left wing, and has nine goals and nine helpers this season. Drake plays right wing, and five goals and seven assists in 25 games. They have combined for 125 points across the past three seasons.
Between the Pipes: The Wolves will be without Finnish netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Buffalo Sabres), who is representing his nation in the World Junior Championships Gold Medal game tonight against the United States. He was just named the ‘OHL Goaltender of the Month’ for December. His goals-against average (GAA) is third-best in the OHL at 2.49. He carries the league’s second-best save-percentage (SAV%) at .923, and he is one of only seven goaltenders with two shutouts this season. He has 19 wins (tied-2nd) in 26 appearances in the 2018-19 campaign thus far. Jake McGrath has appeared in 11 games, posting two wins along with a 4.05 GAA and a SAV% of .865. First-year goaltender Mitchell Weeks, the first overall pick in the 2018 OHL U-18 Draft, has made two appearances and posted a 4.00 GAA and a .844 SAV%.
NHL: Sudbury has two players with NHL ties, consisting of Cole Candella (Vancouver Canucks) and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Buffalo Sabres). Additionally, centerman Blake Murray and defender Liam Ross were named to NHL Central Scouting’s North American ‘Players to Watch’ list, released in November.
In the past 25 years, the Sudbury Wolves have produced 20 professional players that have played at least 200 NHL games. In the 60-team CHL, no team has produced more long-term NHLers in that time frame. Notable Sudbury alumni to play in the NHL include Mike Fisher, Nick Foligno, Dave Hunter, Derek MacKenzie, Ethan Moreau, Glen Murray, Sean O’Donnell, Mike Peca, Warren Rychel, Alexei Semenov, Marc Stall, Steve Staios, Pat Verbeek, and Mike Wilson.
Saturday 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 begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 461 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 492 for 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 Saturday’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 barbecue ribs, baked beans, corn, potato salad, 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 email@example.com.
Next Home Game:
Flint is home against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds at 2 p.m. on Sunday for another Firebirds’ Family “FUN”day. The Sunday “FUN”day games feature up to two free kids’ tickets with the purchase of an adult ticket, as well as a post-game ‘skate with Firebirds players,’ bounce houses and inflatables on the concourse sponsored by Valley Tent Rental and an autograph signing session with Firebirds’ players following the game.
Also Sunday, 4-H will be in attendance and fans will have the opportunity to take part in various interactive activities on the concourse during the game. 4-H will have 4-H dogs and rabbits on hand that are able to be petted. Additionally, there will be a craft station featuring a dog toy making activity, SAFE archery and prizes and giveaways part of each activity. 4-H is a global network of youth organizations whose mission is “engaging youth to reach their fullest potential while advancing the field of youth development.”
Photo Credit: Danen Williams
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club