Firebirds Chase Home Ice in Playoff Push, Visit Attack Tonight
Owen Sound, Ont. – The Firebirds have only five games remaining in the regular season. Two of those games are versus the Owen Sound Attack, who sit just two points behind Flint in the Western Conference standings. Both clubs have clinched a playoff berth, but final rankings and even home-ice advantage in the first round are still within reach for either team. The final push is on, starting with tonight’s 7:00 p.m. (ET) puck drop at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
Not only did Flint sweep their recent five-game homestand but they also went on to win the next two games on the road, extending their current win streak to seven. Tonight concludes the three-game stint away from the Dort Financial Center. That will leave three of the final four games of the regular season to be decided on home ice, including one more against the Attack in the season finale. The Birds are 2-0 against Owen Sound this season, having won 5-3 at home on February 4 and then by a final score of 4-2 on the road on February 11. Flint’s all-time record versus the Attack stands at 9-17-0-0 and is 4-9-0-0 in road games.
The Firebirds enter tonight’s tilt with a record of 32-26-4-1 and now have points in ten of their last 11 games. They rank fourth in the West Division and fifth in the Western Conference, but are only three points behind the Spirit who rank third in the West and fourth in the Western Conference. The Birds have recorded a 16-14-2-0 mark on the road this year and have scored the second-most goals (132) in away contests. The Attack are ranked second in the Midwest Division and sixth in the Western Conference with a 30-26-4-1 mark. They’ve gone 16-11-4-0 on home ice this season.
The Firebirds have converted on 20.1% of their power-play chances this season, ranking them 14th in the OHL. They tied their all-time record for most power-play tallies on the road in a season at 22 versus Oshawa on Sunday. One more will raise the bar. Owen Sound has the 16th-best power play in the OHL, now at 19.9%. However, in home games, the Attack have the eighth-ranked power play with a 24.3% rate of scoring.
While shorthanded, the Birds have improved to eighth-best with a 78.4% success rate. They’ve already scored more goals shorthanded (10) in away games this season than ever before, and they sit one shortie shy of their all-time total in a season which is 16. The Bears are killing penalties 78.3% of the time, good for 15th. However, yet again, they have a much higher kill rate at home at 80.8%, which is the OHL’s sixth-best on home ice this season.
Players to Watch
Firebirds (32-26-4-1, 4th West Division):
Amadeus Lombardi has 42 goals and 48 assists for 90 total points through 63 games. He’s potted the sixth-most goals in the league and owns the third-highest point total. Gavin Hayes ranks second on the team with 36 tallies and 36 helpers in 62 contests. He’s scored five times and picked up six points in the last two games. Overage forward Riley Piercey is third with 64 points (19 G, 45 A) in 63 games played.
Defender Dmitry Kuzmin continues to lead the rearguards for Flint, now with 14 goals and 45 assists through 63 tilts. He’s fourth among all league defenders in point total, sixth in assists, eighth with .94 points per game, and tied for eighth in goals scored.
Rookie netminder Nathan Day recently posted seven-consecutive wins for the Birds. For the season, he has 15 victories in 29 appearances and carries a 3.97 goals-against average (GAA) with a .872 save percentage (SV%). Veteran goaltender Will Cranley has appeared in 42 contests and now has 17 victories. He’s posted a 3.86 GAA with a .883 save percentage SV%.
NHL: The Firebirds have six players with NHL ties consisting of Will Cranley (St. Louis Blues), Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings), Gavin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks), Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Dmitri Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets), and Artem Guryev (San Jose Sharks). Additionally, Coulson Pitre, Tristan Bertucci, Ethan Hay, and goaltender Nathan Day were listed on the NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Midterm Rankings for the upcoming NHL Draft.
Through seven OHL seasons thus far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Detroit), Kole Sherwood (Columbus), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas), Tyler Tucker (St. Louis), and Will Bitten (St. Louis) are five former Firebirds to play in the NHL. Riley Piercey (Detroit) and Gavin Hayes (Chicago) played in NHL preseason contests this year, joining Firebirds’ alumni Ethan Keppen (Vancouver), Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit), and Jalen Smereck (Arizona). The team has produced 25 signed or drafted players into the NHL.
Owen Sound Attack (30-26-4-1, 2nd Midwest Division):
Colby Barlow remains red-hot for his Bears, and now has the most game-winning goals in the league (12). He’s scored the third-most goals (46) and picked up 32 assists for 78 points in just 58 contests. His 13 power-play markers are tied for sixth. Cedrick Guindon ranks second with 63 points (19 G, 44 A) through 61 contests. Deni Goure is third and now has 60 points in only 54 tilts, stemming from 28 tallies and 32 helpers.
Defender Sam Sedley tops the blue-line unit with 50 points (6 G, 44 A) in 50 games played. He also sits tied for seventh among OHL rearguards in assists and ranks eighth for points.
Overage netminder Nick Chenard has appeared in 32 games this season, picking up 13 victories and posting a 3.93 goals-against average (GAA) with a save percentage (SV%) of .872. Corbin Votary has appeared in 26 games but hasn’t played since February 8. Votary earned 11 wins and posted a 3.67 GAA with a SV% of .886. Rookie Carter George now has six wins in nine games, and sports a 3.24 GAA plus a SV% of .925.
NHL: The Attack have three players with NHL ties, consisting of Cedrick Guindon (Montreal Canadiens), Servac Petrovsky (Minnesota Wild), and Kaleb Lawrence (Los Angeles Kings). Additionally, Colby Barlow and former Firebirds’ defender James Petrovski were named to the NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Midseason Rankings. Barlow is the highest-ranked OHL skater on the list and is currently ranked tenth among all draft-eligible skaters in North America.
The list of notable Owen Sound alumni to play in the NHL includes Sean Avery, Wayne Simmonds, Mark Giordano, Bobby Ryan, Kirk Maltby, Josh Bailey, Joel Ward, Wayne Primeau, Brad Richardson, Andrej Sekera, Trevor Lewis, Andrew Shaw, Cody Ceci, Brian McGrattan, Kevin Weekes, Nick Suzuki, and Paul Bissonnette.
This evening’s contest against the Owen Sound Attack 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 before puck drop at 6:40 p.m. (ET) today.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 469 (4469 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 at 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, $24.99 for monthly access, $109.99 for all-access to the 2021-22 Firebirds and OHL season, or $159.99 for all-access to the entire 2021-22 CHL season.
Next Up: The Firebirds return to the Dort Financial Center for back-to-back home games this weekend. First, on Friday the Firebirds will celebrate a special St. Patrick’s Day game, brought to you by the Crim Foundation when they host the Hamilton Bulldogs. The team will be wearing specialty St. Patrick’s Day jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game with the proceeds set to benefit the CANUSA games. Then on Saturday, March 18th, the Firebirds welcome in the Western Conference-leading London Knights for the final time this year. Prior to the game, the Firebirds will honor their Overage players: Riley Piercey, Tyler Deline, and Will Cranley in a special pregame ceremony to celebrate their OHL careers. Additionally, it will be Dover Doors night where the first 2,000 fans will receive a FREE keychain tape measurer courtesy of Dover Doors. Tickets for both games this weekend are available now from ETIX.COM HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club