Firebirds Get Set for Game 4 Thursday in Sault Ste. Marie
Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – For the first time in franchise history, the Firebirds are in the Western Conference Semifinals. After winning the first two games of the series in Flint, it was the Greyhounds who took Game 3 on Tuesday. Puck drop for Game 4 is set for 7:07 p.m. (ET) at the GFL Memorial Garden. There will be a watch party back home in Flint at Blackstone’s Smokehouse. More information is available HERE.
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 an all-time regular-season record of 14-18-1-2 against the Soo, with an away record of 7-9-0-1 in the series.
Games 1 and 2 of this round in Flint both ended in 5-3 victories for the Firebirds. Then, on Tuesday in Sault Ste. Marie, the Hounds ended their skid and held off a late push by the Birds to win 3-2. For the first time in the series, Soo’s top goaltender Tucker Tynan backstopped his Greyhounds against Luke Cavallin and the Firebirds. Tynan made 29 saves on 31 shots for his third postseason victory, earning ‘Second Star’ accolades for his efforts. Across the ice, Cavallin stopped 26 of 29 shots and held the Greyhounds scoreless in the final two periods of play. For Sault Ste. Marie, Rory Kerins (Calgary Flames), who led the Soo in scoring during the regular season, scored his first of the playoffs and was named ‘First Star.’ Gavin Hayes scored both Flint goals, and was declared the ‘Third Star.’
Through the three games in the current series, Firebirds’ Captain Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) sits atop the scoresheet for either club with seven points (3 G, 4 A). Rookie Gavin Hayes has three goals plus two assists and fellow first-year forward Coulson Pitre has also scored three times. Defenseman Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) has assisted four times during the three games. The Greyhounds are topped by Jack Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning) with four points, two tallies and two helpers. Kalvyn Watson also has four points, consisting of a goal and three assists.
On special teams, the Firebirds finished the 68-game campaign 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 83.3% efficiency. The Hounds are currently sixth in the playoffs at 81.8%. The Soo finished the regular season with the league’s top power play, clicking at 28.4%. They now sit third converting at a rate of 36.0%. The Firebirds are converting at a 15.0% clip, the 11th best in the postseason.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (42-21-1-4, 3rd Western Conference):
Through ten playoff games to date, Flint’s led by Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) with seven goals (T-4th in OHL) and five assists. Othmann currently has the most game-winning goals (4) in these playoffs, after leading 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.
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 second-most points by any OHL rookie in the playoffs (7), and he’s scored three times. Hayes rides a four-game points streak (3 G, 3 A) into Thursday’s tilt. 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 (T-2nd) and an assist in the playoffs to date. Defenseman Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) is tied for second among OHL defensemen with five power-play helpers. His seven overall assists are tied for fourth-most among blue-liners.
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. He carries a 2.61 GAA and the third-best postseason SV% of .930. 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 in seven playoff games. He ranks first among all OHL defenders in goals, power-play goals (3) and points, and he’s tied for third in assists. Thompson will carry a seven-game points streak into Thursday night, meaning he’s collected at least one point in every postseason game he’s played this year. 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 any forward or defenseman, and he ranks second in defensive points. Behind the two defenders are a pair of forwards averaging a point per game. In eight games, Tye Kartye (Seattle Kraken) has six goals and two assists for eight points. Rory Kerins (Calgary Flames) has seven helpers and one goal through eight games. In the regular season, Kerins topped the Hounds on the scoresheet with 43 goals and 75 assists for 118 points, which was the second-highest points total 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 five playoff points (1 G, 4 A) in eight 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 three of five playoff appearances, including Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over the Firebirds. Thus far, Tynan has posted the OHL’s top-ranked GAA 1.57 and best SV% .948. 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.
Thursday’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) Thursday evening. Fans in Flint and Mid-Michigan are welcome to attend the official Game 4 Watch Party at Blackstone’s Smokehouse, located at 531 S. Saginaw St. in Flint. Reservations are available by calling (810) 234-9011.
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 the all of the 2022 OHL playoffs.
Next Up: Game 5 of the series will return to Flint Saturday. Puck drop for the fifth game will be 7:00 p.m. (ET), and tickets are available from ETIX HERE, in person at the Dort Financial Center box office, or by calling (810) 744-0580.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 742-2004 ext. 223