Flint, Mich. – For the first time in franchise history, the Firebirds are in the Western Conference Semifinals. Their Round 2 opponent is a familiar West-Division rival. In Flint’s lone playoff appearance prior to this year, they faced the West Division champs from Sault Ste. Marie, but made an early first-round exit from the postseason after Game 5 back in 2017. Puck drop for Game 1 versus the Greyhounds is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center.
Through five regular-season meetings this year, Flint finished with an overall record of 2-1-0-2, and a 1-1-0-1 record on home ice vs. the Hound. The Birds’ lone regulation victory was in the final game of the regular season when captain Brennan Othmann scored four goals to reach 50 on the season. Three of the games required extra time, with Flint winning once in overtime and the Soo winning twice in shootouts. In the five meetings, the Firebirds were outscored by the Hounds 24-22. Leading the way for the Birds on the scoresheet during the series between these clubs were Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) and rookie Gavin Hayes. Othmann has seven goals and two assists, whereas Hayes has seven helpers and two tallies. Zacharie Giroux and Amadeus Lombardi are tied for third with two goals and four assists each. The Greyhounds were led by Rory Kerins (Calgary Flames) with three goals and five assists, followed by Robert Calisti and Kalvyn Watson with a goal and six helpers each.
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 home ice this year, Flint posted a home record of 18-14-0-2. Sault Ste. Marie’s final road record was 16-13-4-1. All-time, the Firebirds carry a regular-season record of 14-18-1-2 against the Soo, with a home record of 7-9-1-1 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 third with a 90.9% efficiency. The Hounds killed penalties at a 78.7% clip during the 68-game campaign, the league’s 11th-best. They’re currently sixth in the playoffs at 87.5%. 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 13th-best so far in the 2022 playoffs at 9.7%, and the Greyhounds sit third converting at 35.3%.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (42-21-1-4, 3rd Western Conference):
Through the six-game series to date, Flint’s led by Amadeus Lombardi with four goals and four assists. In the regular season, Lombardi ranked second on the squad with 59 points (18 G, 41 A) in 67 games. Ethan Keppen also has four goals and three assists, after finishing the regular season with 23 goals and 17 assists in 42 games. He began the season with the Abbotsford Canucks of the American Hockey League. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) led the team and finished second in the OHL with 50 goals, and held a franchise-high 97 points this season. He currently has four goals and one helper this postseason.
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 two goals and an assist in the playoffs to date. Westland, Mich. native Gavin Hayes finished atop the scoresheet for rookies on the roster with 49 total points (19 G, 30 A) in 65 games. He holds the franchise records for assists and points in a single season by any Flint rookie and had two assists versus the Attack in the first round. Rookie rearguard Luca D’Amato has a goal and two helpers and veteran Tyler Deline picked up four helpers in five Round 1 games.
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. In seven Round 1 playoff appearances, Cavallin had four wins and the fifth-best GAA of 2.44. He also carries the OHL’s fifth-best SV% of .926. 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 (39-21-6-1, 3rd West Division):
Rory Kerins (Calgary Flames) topped the Hounds on the scoresheet with 43 goals and 75 assists for 118 points in 67 games. In regular-season OHL rankings, Kerins finished first in power-play assists (32), second in points, third in both assists and points per game (1.76), and sixth in total number of goals scored. Kerins had five assists in five games in Round 1. Tye Kartye (Seattle Kraken) finished the campaign fourth in the league and second on the team with 45 goals and 34 assists for 79 points through 63 contests. He also topped the league in power-play tallies (23). Kartye now ranks third on the club in the postseason with five goals and two assists. Cole MacKay finished third with 28 tallies and 75 total points through 61 games played. He has six playoff points thus far (3 G, 3 A).
Defenders Jack Thompson (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Robert Calisti each concluded the regular season with identical stats (21 G, 36 A). Thompson now leads the Greyhounds with nine playoff points (3 G, 6 A). Calisti has logged one goal and three assists. Fellow rearguard Ryan O’Rourke (Minnesota Wild) has the second-most postseason points on the club with a goal and seven assists. The leader among the rookie class for the Greyhounds was Bryce McConnell-Barker, who now has 23 tallies and 26 helpers through 67 contests. He’s currently at four playoff points (1 G, 3 A).
On the season, Tynan Tucker appeared in 50 games this season, which was the fifth-most in the league. He’s 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 two appearances to go with his 2.34 GAA and .922 SV%.
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.
Friday’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.
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.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak 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.
Next Up: The Firebirds will also host Game 2 on home ice this Sunday, with puck drop scheduled for 4:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center. Tickets for Game 2 are available now 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 (if necessary).
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 742-2004 ext. 223