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Firebirds Face Sting in Sarnia for First Time This Season

Sarnia, Ont. –  The Firebirds will play back-to-back games this weekend in a home-and-away series with the Sarnia Sting. First up is road game across the border. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET) Friday evening at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia.

The Firebirds enter Friday’s contest in fourth place in the West Division with a record of 8-6-0-1. The Sting sit fifth in the West with a 7-6-3-0 record. On home ice this year, Sarnia is 3-3-2-0 compared to Flint’s road record of 3-1-0-1. The Firebirds’ .700 win percentage on the road is tied for second-best in the OHL.

Friday marks the first of eight meetings between these clubs, and the first of four games to be played in Sarnia this season. All-time, the Firebirds hold a record of 20-17-1-0 versus the Bees and are 7-12-0-0 at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena. Last season (2019-20) the ‘Birds won five of eight games in the series.

Most recently for the Firebirds was the Thanksgiving-eve I-75 Divide Cup rivalry game, presented by Coors Light, played at the Dort Financial Center in front of more than 2,100 fans. Flint put a stop to Saginaw’s 10-game winning streak in Flint with a thrilling 5-3 victory. Gavin Hayes led the offensive charge for the Firebirds, netting his first two tallies of the campaign. Sahil Panwar lit the lamp and now has seven points in his last six games. Ethan Hay and Zacharie Giroux also found twine. Luke Cavallin made 31 saves on 34 shots for his seventh win of the campaign.

On special teams, the Firebirds are converting with the man-advantage at a 15.1% rate, which ranks them 15th in the OHL. Sarnia has scored at a success rate of 12.7%, which places them 19th. Flint is killing penalties at an 84.5% clip, ranking them third in the 20-team OHL. The Sting’s penalty-kill has shown a success rate of 80.6%, which ranks eighth.

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (8-6-0-1, 4th West Division):
Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) continues to top the stat sheet for Flint with 13 goals and eight assists for 21 total points through 15 games. Othmann is followed on the stats sheet by a pair of defensemen. Tyler Deline has two goals and 11 assists in 15 contests. Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) has one goal and nine assists through 13 games played. Sahil Panwar (3 G, 6 A) and Amadeus Lombardi (4 G, 5 A) sit close behind with nine total points each.

In net, Luke Cavallin has appeared in 13 games thus far. He carries a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.38. His save percentage (SV%) is .899. Cavallin has earned seven wins, with one of them being a shutout. Rookie netminder Ian Michelone played two full games and carries a GAA of 4.00 and a SV% of .901 with one win. Nathaniel Day played the final 18 minutes of a road game in Saginaw and turned aside all four shots faced.

NHL: The Firebirds have three players with NHL ties consisting of Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets), and Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers). Also, Gavin Hayes was recently named to the 2021 NHL Central Scouting November Players to Watch List. More recently, defenseman Tristan Bertucci and netminder Nathaniel Day were both among the 24 OHL players named to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 roster to participate at the inaugural Capital City Challenge. The Capital City Challenge is a four-team tournament featuring three men’s under-17 teams and Canada’s National Women’s Team to take place November 26 to December 1 at TD Place in Ottawa.

Despite Flint playing in just five OHL seasons thus far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes/Detroit Red Wings), Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets), and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) are three former Firebirds to play 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 21 signed or drafted players into the NHL.

Sarnia Sting (7-6-3-0, 3rd West Division):

Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) tops the Sting in scoring with 20 points (6 G, 14 A) through 15 games-played this season. Nolan Burke ranks second overall in points with 17, and leads the club in goals with 11 scored through 16 contests. Nolan Dann sits third with nine goals and six helpers in 16 games.

Bloomfield, Mich. Native Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins) leads the group of defenders for the Sting with seven points on the season. Max Namestnikov tops the freshman class with 11 total points (3 G, 8 A).

Sarnia is backstopped by two netminders with NHL ties. Benjamin Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) has been hot of late, going 2-0-1-0 last week. During the three games he posted a 1.97 goals-against average (GAA) and a .942 save percentage (SV%), with one of the wins being a shutout. He was named the OHL Goaltender of the Week. For the season, Gaudreau has five wins in ten appearances and a 2.98 GAA with a .912 SV%. Anson Thornton (Arizona Coyotes) has two wins in six appearances, along with a 3.52 GAA and a SV% of .892.

NHL: Sarnia’s roster features eight players with NHL ties, consisting of forwards Ryan McGregor (Arizona Coyotes), Jamieson Rees (Carolina Hurricanes), Jacob Perrault (Anaheim Ducks), and Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs), defensement Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins) and Eric Hjorth (Columbus Blue Jackets), and goaltenders Benjamin Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) and Anson Thornton (Arizona Coyotes). Additionally, Max Namestnikov was listed on the 2021 NHL Central Scouting November Players to Watch List. Defenseman Alexis Daviault was among the 24 OHL players recently named to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 roster to participate at the inaugural Capital City Challenge.

13 notable Sting alumni to play in the NHL are Steven Stamkos, Reid Boucher, Eric Boulton, Daniel Carcillo, Jakob Chychrun, Alex Galchenyuk, Matt Martin, Connor Murphy, Dalton Prout, Brett Ritchie, Ryan Spooner, Nail Yakupov and Pavel Zacha.

Broadcast Coverage:

Friday evening’s contest against the Sarnia Sting 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 6:50 p.m. (ET) Friday evening .

The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 467 (4467 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, $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 Home Game: The Firebirds return to home ice Saturday night for the second leg of this weekend’s home-and-away series versus Sarnia. The game is themed Healthcare Heroes Night, sponsored by Hurley Medical Center and View Newspapers. All healthcare workers will receive a free ticket at the box office with a valid ID, and friends and family will receive discounted tickets at the box office. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center in Flint. Tickets are on sale NOW here: ETIX.

Story: Brandon Mills/flintfirebirds.com

For more information, contact:
Jack Sznewajs
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
jack@flintfirebirds.com
(810) 519-9347 ext. 223

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