Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – For the first time in franchise history, the Firebirds are in the Western Conference Semifinals. In Flint’s lone playoff appearance prior to this year, they faced the Soo back in 2017, but made an early first-round exit from the postseason after only five total games. Puck drop for Game 3 versus the Greyhounds is set for 7:07 p.m. (ET) at the GFL Memorial Garden.
Flint defeated the Soo by a final score of 5-3 in both of the first two games of the series, both played at the Dort Financial Center. Luke Cavallin faced a total of 114 shots across the two contests and stopped 108 of them for two wins. As a result, he was named the ‘OHL Goaltender of the Week’ for the second-consecutive week. Leading the way for the Firebirds are Brennan Othmann with seven points (3 G, 4 A) across two games, rookie Coulson Pitre with three goals, defenseman Dmitry Kuzin (Winnipeg Jets) with three helpers, and Gavin Hayes with a goal and two assists. For the Greyhounds, Samuel Ivanov played both of the first two games, making a total of 56 saves on 65 shots. Rearguard Jack Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning) leads the offensive charge for Sault Ste. Marie with four points (2 G, 2 A), followed by Kalvyn Watson (1 G, 2 A) and Ryan O’Rourke (Minnesota Wild) with three assists.
Flint entered the 2022 playoffs ranked third in the Western Conference and second in the West Division with a regular-season record of 42-21-1-4. The Greyhounds were seeded fourth in the Western Conference and third in the West Division with a 39-22-6-1 record. On the road this year, Flint posted the OHL’s best record of 24-7-1-2. Sault Ste. Marie’s final home record was the fourth-best in the league at 23-9-2-0. All-time, the Firebirds carry a regular-season record of 14-18-1-2 against the Soo, with an away record of 7-9-0-1 in the series.
On special teams, the Firebirds finished with the OHL’s top-ranked penalty kill, finding success at a rate of 84.2%. In playoff games so far, they rank fifth with an 85.7% efficiency. The Hounds killed penalties at a 78.7% clip during the 68-game campaign, the league’s 11th-best. They’re currently seventh in the playoffs at 82.1%. Flint converted with the man-advantage at a 19.7% regular-season rate, which ranked them 12th in the 20-team OHL. Sault Ste. Marie scored on 28.4% of their chances, which was the best in the league. Statistically, the Birds are 11th-best so far in the 2022 playoffs at 14.3%, and the Greyhounds sit third converting at 34.8%.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (42-21-1-4, 3rd Western Conference):
Through nine playoff games to date, Flint’s led by Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) with seven goals and five assists. Othmann has the most game-winning goals (4) in these playoffs, and he led his troops with 50 goals and 97 total points in the regular season. Amadeus Lombardi ranks second in the postseason with four goals and five assists. Lombardi also finished second in the regular season, with 59 points (18 G, 41 A) in 67 games. Ethan Keppen has five goals and three assists, after finishing the regular season with 23 goals and 17 assists through 42 games. He began his season with the Abbotsford Canucks of the American Hockey League.
Coulson Pitre led the team’s freshman class in goals (23) this season and had 44 total points through 52 contests. He is the club’s all-time rookie goal-scoring leader, and he has five goals and an assist in the playoffs to date. He’s currently tied for second in rookie scoring and third in rookie points. Westland, Mich. native Gavin Hayes finished with the most helpers and points by a rookie in franchise history, ending with 49 total points (19 G, 30 A) in 65 games. He’s currently tied for the third-most assists by an OHL rookie in the playoffs (4), and he’s scored once.
Luke Cavallin started these playoffs with the league’s seventh-best goals-against average (GAA) of 3.16 and the league’s third-best save percentage (SV%) at .910 through 56 appearances. He earned the most wins in the league and the most in Flint history, ending at 36 victories during the regular season. Cavallin is now tied for the most victories in the playoffs with six in nine appearances. He carries a 2.57 GAA and the third-best postseason SV% of .933. Behind Cavallin are two rookie goalies. Ian Michelone appeared in ten regular-season games and picked up four victories. He carries a GAA of 4.37 and a SV% of .884. Michelone was one of only two goalies in the league to earn a shutout this season. Nathaniel Day has two victories in eight regular-season appearances, with a 3.63 GAA and a .883 SV%.
NHL: The Firebirds have four players on their roster with NHL ties consisting of Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets), and Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers). Also, Gavin Hayes and Amadeus Lombardi were named to the 2022 NHL Central Scouting’s Final Draft Rankings.
Despite Flint playing in just five OHL seasons thus far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes / Detroit Red Wings), Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Arizona Coyotes) are four former Firebirds to play regular-season games in the NHL. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) and Firebirds’ alumni Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit Red Wings) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) have all played in NHL pre-season contests. In total, the team has produced 22 signed or drafted players into the NHL.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (39-22-6-1, 4th Western Conference):
The Greyhounds are led in playoff points by a pair of defensemen. Jack Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning) has five goals and eight assists for 13 points. He ranks first among all OHL defenders in goals, power-play goals (3) and points, and he’s tied for second in assists. Fellow rearguard Ryan O’Rourke (Minnesota Wild) is second on the club with one tally and 10 helpers. His ten assists are the most by any blue-liner, his six power-play assists are the most in the league by a forward or defenseman, and he ranks second in defensive points. Behind the two defenders are a trio of forwards averaging at or above a point per game. Tye Kartye (Seattle Kraken) has six goals and two assists for eight points in seven games. Cole MacKay has lit the lamp four times and assisted on three tallies, and Rory Kerins (Calgary Flames) has seven helpers through seven games. In the regular season, Kerins topped the Hounds on the scoresheet with 43 goals and 75 assists for 118 points, which were the second-most by any player in the 2021-22 campaign.
The leader among the rookie class for the Greyhounds was Bryce McConnell-Barker, who finished the regular season with 23 tallies and 26 helpers through 67 contests. He’s currently at four playoff points (1 G, 3 A) in seven games.
For the regular season, Tynan Tucker appeared in 50 games which were the fifth-most in the league. He earned the tenth-most wins (22) and carried a 3.55 goals-against average (GAA) with a .887 save percentage (SV%). He’s won two of four playoff appearances and posted the OHL’s top-ranked GAA (1.44) and SV% (.952). Samuel Ivanov had 20 wins in 34 games played, and a 3.43 GAA with a .887 SV%. He now has two wins in four appearances to go with his 3.58 GAA and .882 SV%. To date, the Hounds are the only team in the OHL with two goalies who’ve posted playoff shutouts this year.
NHL: The Greyhounds have six players with NHL ties, including Tye Kartye (Seattle Kraken), Rory Kerins (Calgary Flames), Tanner Dickinson (St. Louis Blues), Ryan O’Rourke (Minnesota Wild), Jacob Holmes (Dallas Stars), and Jack Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning). Additionally, Caeden Carlisle, Bryce McConnell-Barker, Kirill Kudryavtsev, and Charlie Schenkel were named to the NHL Central Scouting’s Final Draft Rankings.
25 notable Greyhounds’ alumni to play in the NHL are Wayne Gretzky, Jeff Beukeboom, Bob Boughner, Jeff Carter, Dan Clouthier, Paul Coffey, Trevor Daley, Ray Emery, Adam Foote, Ron Francis, 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.
Tuesday’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. Jack Sznewajs will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Pregame coverage will begin prior to puck drop at 6:45 p.m. (ET) Friday evening.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 466 (4466 HD) 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.
Also, all Flint Firebirds’ home and away games throughout the 2021-22 regular season can be watched anywhere in the world online on https://watch.chl.ca/ohl. CHL TV is the league’s new and improved 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 for 24-hour access or $59.99 to watch all of the 2022 OHL playoffs.
Next Up: The Firebirds will remain in Sault Ste. Marie for Game 4 on Thursday evening. Fans can follow all the action 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. Jack Sznewajs will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Game five of the series, if necessary, will return to Flint Saturday. Puck drop for the fifth game will be 7:00 p.m. (ET), and tickets will be available from ETIX, in person at the Dort Financial Center box office, or by calling (810) 744-0580. Follow flintfirebirds.com for details and availability of Game 5 tickets.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 742-2004 ext. 223