Firebirds Host Knights as Playoff Position Race Heats Up
Flint, Mich. – With only three contests remaining in the 2022-23 Regular Season, the Firebirds look playoff ready and can still finish in several scenarios for the postseason. Saginaw remains just ahead and both Owen Sound and Guelph are right behind. Next, up is London for a Friday “Knight” showdown. Puck drop for Knights at Firebirds is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center tonight.
Tonight marks the third of four meetings between these teams and is the second of two to be played at the Dort Financial Center. After skating away with a 6-4 road victory in front of over 9,000 fans on November 18, the Birds dropped the next two games. On November 19 the Knights won 7-4 in Flint. Then on February 6, the Birds surrendered a 9-5 decision at Budweiser Gardens. Across the three prior matchups, London’s Sean McGurn leads the charts with five goals and five assists over three meetings versus Flint. Amadeus Lombardi has seven points (2 G, 5 A) to top the scoring for the Birds when playing London.
Not only did Flint sweep their recent five-game homestand, but they also went on to win two of their recent three-game road trip. After seven-straight victories, they dropped a tough 4-3 decision to the Attack in Owen Sound on Wednesday. Then they got right back to their winning ways in a 3-1 victory on home ice over the defending OHL Champions from Hamilton last night. Gavin Hayes led the charge for the Birds with two goals in the tilt.
On home ice, the Birds are riding a franchise-best seven-game winning streak and have earned points in nine of their past ten tilts. They’ve gone 17-12-2-1 at home this year and 33-27-4-1 overall. They rank fourth in the West Division and fifth in the ten-team Western Conference. The Knights are second in the Western Conference and tops in the Midwest Division with a 43-19-2-0 season thus far, and they’ve gone 22-9-1-0 in road games.
The Firebirds have converted on 20.5% of their power-play chances this season, ranking them 14th in the OHL. London has the 11th-best power play overall at 21.7%. While shorthanded, the Birds are ninth-best with a 78.1% success rate. The Knights are killing penalties 79.3% of the time, good for sixth.
Prior to Saturday’s game, the Firebirds will honor Overage players Riley Piercey, Tyler Deline, and Will Cranley in a special pregame ceremony, celebrating 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.
Players to Watch
Firebirds (33-27-4-1, 4th West Division):
Amadeus Lombardi has 43 goals and 52 assists for 95 total points. He’s potted the sixth-most goals in the league and owns the third-highest point total. Lombardi has also scored the first goal of the game nine times this season, the second-most in the league. Gavin Hayes ranks second on the team with 38 tallies and 37 helpers. Overage forward Riley Piercey is third with 65 points (19 G, 46 A).
Defender Dmitry Kuzmin continues to top scoring from the blue line with 14 goals and 45 assists. He’s fifth among all league defenders in point total, eighth in assists and ninth in goals.
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%. Rookie netminder Nathan Day recently posted seven-consecutive wins for the Birds. For the season, he has 16 victories in 31 appearances and carries a 3.86 goals-against average (GAA) with a .874 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.
London Knights (43-19-2-0, 1st Midwest Division):
Sean McGurn leads the Knights with 26 goals and 53 assists for 79 points in 64 games. George Diaco is second with 25 tallies combined with 46 helpers across 63 contests. Denver Barkey is third with 57 points (21 G, 36 A) after 59 tilts.
Atop the defenders is Logan Mailloux with 24 goals and 27 assists. His 24 markers are the most of all OHL rearguards. The freshman class is topped by the 47 points (16 G, 31 A) of Easton Cowan.
In goal, London is led by Brett Brochu, who has 27 wins in 44 appearances, including two shutouts. His goals-against average (GAA) sits at 2.77 to go with a .904 save-percentage (SV%). Rookie netminder Zach Bowen has 16 victories across 24 games. He sports a 3.13 GAA and a SV% of .899.
NHL: The Knights also have six players with NHL ties, including Ryan Winterton (Seattle Kraken), Max McCue (San Jose Sharks), Landon Sim (St. Louis Blues), Isaiah George (N.Y. Islanders), Logan Mailloux (Montreal), and Jackson Edward (Boston). Additionally, Oliver Bonk is the highest-ranked (18th overall) defenseman on the NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Midseason Rankings. Easton Cowan, Denver Barkey, and goalie Zach Bowen also made the list.
Notable London Knights alumni to play in the NHL include Brendan Shanahan, Patrick Kane, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, Corey Perry, David Bolland, John Carlson, Dino Ciccarelli, Bo Horvat, Nazem Kadri, Patrick Maroon, Rick Nash, Kyle Quincey, Steve Smith, Chris Tierney, Matthew Tkachuk and Nikita Zadorov.
This evening’s contest against the London Knights 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 6:45 p.m. (ET) today.
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 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: Only two games remain in the regular season after tonight. Flint will travel to Kitchener on Friday to face the Rangers. The season finale is back in Flint on Saturday as they welcome the Owen Sound Attack on “Fan Appreciation Night!” Tickets for Saturday’s game are available now from ETIX.COM HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club