Firebirds’ broadcaster Dominic Hennig preview’s Saturday’s home game vs. the Sudbury Wolves with Head Coach Ryan Oulahen and defenseman Riley McCourt.
Flint, Mich. – The Sudbury Wolves are in town for a Saturday night contest with the Flint Firebirds. Opening face-off is slated for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.
Saturday marks the second and final meeting between Flint and Sudbury this season. The Wolves defeated the Firebirds 6 – 3 in Sudbury on Feb. 9. Last season, Flint was 1-0-1-0 in the season series against the Wolves. All time, the Firebirds hold a record of 3-1-1-0 and are 1-1-0-0 on home ice against Sudbury.
Both teams enter the match with wins in their last game. The Wolves beat the Windsor Spitfires in Windsor, 4 – 3, on Thursday evening. Last night, Flint won 6 – 5 in overtime in Guelph. Overall, Sudbury has a season record of 15-37-8-0 and a road record of 5-18-6-0. They rank fifth in the Central Division and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Firebirds have a season record of 17-39-3-2, ranking fifth in the West Division and 10th in the Western Conference. On home ice, Flint has a record of 12-17-1-0 this season.
On special teams, Flint ranks 16th on the power-play, scoring 17.1% of the time. Sudbury ranks 19th with the man advantage, converting on 15.7% of their chances. Flint kills penalties at a 74.3% clip (19th), compared to the Wolves’ 74.7% achievement (18th) when short-handed.
The first 2,000 fans in attendance Saturday will receive the Firebirds’ official team picture poster to get autographed by their favorite Firebirds in the arena lobby immediately following the game. Additionally, 500 t-shirts will be given away to fans throughout the game courtesy of Genesys Athletic Club.
Saturday is also Gordie Howe Tribute Night sponsored by Diplomat. Gordie’s son, Murray Howe, will be in attendance signing copies of the book “Nine Lessons I Learned from My Father.” Part Tuesdays with Morrie, part Mr. Hockey, Nine Lessons is about what Murray Learned from his Father’s intimate account of all that lies behind the towering legacy of the beloved Gordie Howe.
Additionally, the Firebirds’ three “Overagers,” Maurizio Colella, Garrett Forrest and Jalen Smereck will be honored prior to the game. In the OHL, an overager is a player that begins the season at 20 years of age. A team is only allowed to have three overage players on their roster after the trade deadline in January.
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.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (17-39-3-2, 5th West Division):
It’s Overager Night which means keep an eye on Maurizio Colella, Garrett Forrest and Jalen Smereck.
Maurizio Colella leads all Firebirds’ players with 55 points in 60 games this season. He has the most assists on the team with 35. He added a goal and two assists last night in Guelph. Ty Dellandrea ranks second in points with 53 in 60 games. He has the most goals on the squad with 24, and the most power-play goals with 10. He, too, earned three points against the Storm on Friday night. Connor Roberts ranks third on the team in scoring with 16 goals and 16 helpers for 32 points total. Roberts earned two assists in last night’s contest.
Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes), is one point away from 100 career points in the OHL. He leads all defenseman with 29 points in just 39 games with Flint this season. He has 10 goals, including Friday night’s game-winner just 35 seconds into overtime in Guelph. Riley McCourt leads all rookies on the Firebirds roster with 20 points on the season. He has four goals and 16 assists in 49 games played.
In net, Garrett Forrest carries a 4.75 goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage of .864% (SAV%). Forrest has appeared in 41 games and earned 11 wins. The ‘overager’ is in his final season in the OHL, and holds the record as the all-time saves’ leader for the Firebirds. Rookie goaltender Luke Cavallin made 36 saves on 41 shots last night in Guelph. He has a 4.08 GAA and a .877 SAV% in 26 appearances. 26 games for Cavallin is the second most for any rookie goalie in the OHL, behind Owen Sound’s Mack Guzda who has played 27. Cavallin has six wins thus far in his rookie season.
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.
Sudbury Wolves (15-37-8-0, 4th Midwest Division):
The Wolves are led by rookie Blake Murray who has 37 points in 49 games. He also leads the Wolves in goals with 18. Alexey Lipanov (Tampa Bay Lightning) ranks second on the club with 13 goals and 21 helpers for 34 points in 48 games played. Kirill Nizhnikov is third with 33 points in 56 games this season. The last time these two teams met, it was 2015 first-pick overall David Levin who led the Wolves with a hat trick, scoring three of six Sudbury goals in their 6 – 3 victory over the Firebirds.
From the blue line, Cole Candella (Vancouver Canucks) leads the defensive squad with 30 points in 60 games played. His 26 assists are the most on the entire Sudbury roster. He earned a two-point night against the Firebirds earlier this season, recording two helpers on home ice.
An interesting fact worth noting is that twin brothers from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario play together for Sudbury. Drake Pilon is a 5-foot-10, 178-pound right-handed winger who has collected 25 points in 57 games this season. His brother Darian is a 5-foot-10, 177-pound left-handed winger with 29 points in 54 games this season. The Pilon twins were both drafted by Sudbury in 2016, and they are tied with 12 goals a piece in the campaign. The twins are not related to Firebirds’ two-way player Zack Pilon, but the potential to see three jerseys with matching last names on the ice at the same time exists in Saturday’s contest.
In net, Jake McGrath has appeared in 41 games this season. He has posted a 3.99 goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage (SAV%) of .885 with nine wins. Rookie goaltender Marshall Frappier has four wins in 19 appearances. His GAA is 4.77 and his SAV% is .871 this season.
NHL: Sudbury has two players with NHL ties. Forward Alexey Lipanov was a third-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in last year’s draft. Defenseman Cole Candella was a fifth-round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in 2016. Additionally, forwards Kirill Nizhnikov and David Levin are listed in the 2018 NHL Central Scouting Midterm Rankings for the upcoming 2018 NHL Draft in June.
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. Most notable among the Wolves’ alumni are Sean O’Donnell, who logged 1,224 games in the NHL, Glen Murray, Mike Fisher, Taylor Pyatt, Nick Foligno, Mark Staal, and Mike Smith.
Friday evening’s contest against the Sudbury Wolves 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 Sudbury on Eastlink TV channel 10/610 (HD) for Eastlink TV cable subscribers. In addition, the game will be televised province-wide throughout Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 447 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 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.
Blue Line Club Menu:
Presented by Great Lakes Sandwich Co & Cafe, Saturday evening’s dinner menu for the Blue Line Club features turkey with gravy, mostaccioli with meat sauce, pulled pork, meatballs, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, garden salad, dinner rolls with butter and assorted desserts. Saturday’s menu is available to all sponsors and season ticket holders for $15 per person. Dinner RSVPs are encouraged by emailing Karla Turner at email@example.com.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club