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Firebirds Look For First Win in I-75 Divide Cup Rivalry Series Tonight at the Dort Financial Center

Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds will host the Saginaw Spirit on the eve of Thanksgiving in the United States. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center in Flint Wednesday. This is the fourth matchup of the year in the I-75 Divide Cup, presented by Coors Light.

The Firebirds enter Friday’s contest in fifth place in the West Division with a record of 7-6-0-1. The Spirit sit second in the West, with a 8-6-1-0 record. On home ice this year, the Firebirds are 4-5-0-0 compared to Saginaw’s road record of 5-2-1-0. Both teams have won five games in their last 10.

All-time, Flint carries a record of 14-26-0-2 against Saginaw, with a home record of 7-12-0-2. In the shortened 2019-20 season, Saginaw won four of seven meetings. Wednesday marks the fourth of 12 total meetings between the clubs, and the third of six to be played in Flint. Thus far, the Spirit have won all three games versus the Firebirds. Saginaw has now won nine-in-a-row in Flint.

After winning the I-75 Divide Cup their first two seasons in the OHL, Flint has now surrendered the trophy to Saginaw for three straight campaigns. The first team to win seven games in the series this season will win the coveted trophy, with Saginaw holding the early lead 3-0. The Spirit have outscored the Birds 13-9 across the four meetings this season.

The last time ‘Birds and Spirit met was November 12 in Flint. Game three of the series went to the Spirit by a final score of 4-2. For Flint, Sahil Panwar scored his first goal of the season and Zacharie Giroux potted his fourth. The visitors were led by Camaryn Baber’s two tallies, followed by Nick Wong and Josh Bloom (Buffalo Sabres) chipping in one goal each. Between the pipes, Luke Cavallin made 29 saves on 32 shots and the New York Islanders’ prospect Tristan Lennox stopped 23 of Flint’s 25 shots to earn his fourth victory of the campaign.

On special teams, the Firebirds and Spirit are very evenly ranked. The Firebirds are 15th on the power play, converting at a 16.1% rate and have four powerplay goals the last three games. The Spirit rank 17th with a 13.4% conversion rate. Saginaw boasts the league’s best penalty-kill, holding their opposition scoreless 91.0% of the time. Flint is a close third, killing penalties at an 85.5% clip.

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (7-6-0-0, 5th West Division):
Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) continues to set the league on fire this year for Flint with thirteen goals and seven assists for 20 total points through 14 games. Othmann is followed on the stats sheet by a pair of defensemen. Tyler Deline has two goals and ten assists in 14 contests. Behind him with nine points are Amadeus Lombardi (4 G, 5 A) and Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets), who has one goal and eight assists through 11 games played. Rookie centerman Coulson Pitre (5 G, 3 A) sits close behind with eight total points.

In net, Luke Cavallin has appeared in 12 games thus far. He carries a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.41. His save percentage (SV%) is .898. Cavallin has earned six 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.

Saginaw Spirit (8-6-1-0, 2nd West Division):

Josh Bloom (Buffalo Sabres) sits atop the leaderboard for the Spirit with 20 points (12 G, 8 A) through 15 games. Calumet, Mich. native Dean Loukus ranks second on the team with six tallies and six helpers through 15 games-played. Camaryn Baber sits third in scoring with 11 points (5 G, 6 A).

Leading from the blue line is defenseman Roberto Mancini with 10 total points (4 G, 6 A). Saginaw’s top rookie on the scoresheet is Matyas Sapovaliv with two tallies and nine assists on the books.

Between the pipes, returning goaltender Tristan Lennox (New York Islanders) has appeared in eight games and earned four victories. He carries a 2.67 goals-against average (GAA) and a save-percentage (SV%) of .888. Shelby Township, Mich. native Andrew Oke has also played in eight contests, also picking up four victories. Oke carries a 4.15 GAA with a SV% of .846. Brett Fullerton has played in one contest, posting a 3.33 GAA and a .850 SV%.

NHL: The Spirit have two players with NHL ties, consisting of Josh Bloom (Buffalo Sabres) and Tristan Lennox (New York Islanders). Additionally, forward Matyas Sapolaliv and rearguard Pavel Mintyukov were recently named to the 2021 NHL Central Scouting October Players to Watch List.  Olivier Savard and Luke McNamara were both among the 24 OHL players named to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 roster to participate at the inaugural Capital City Challenge.

12 notable Spirit alumni to play in the NHL are Cody Bass, Paul Bissonnette, T.J. Brodie, Matt Corrente, Filip Hronek, Jan Mursak, Jamie Oleksiak, Dalton Prout, Tom Pyatt, Brandon Saad, Chris Thorburn and Vincent Trocheck.

Broadcast Coverage:

Wednesday evening’s contest against the Saginaw Spirit 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. Jeremy Otto 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) Wednesday evening.

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, $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 to host the Sarnia Sting for the first time this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET). Tickets are on sale NOW here: ETIX.

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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