London, Ont. – The Firebirds play game one of back-to-back tilts with the London Knights tonight at Budweiser Gardens. The teams reunite tomorrow at the Dort Financial Center in Flint. The series begins tonight, with puck drop slated for 7:00 p.m. (ET). Tickets for Saturday’s home contest are available now from ETIX HERE.
Flint enters the contest with a record of 10-7-1-1, seeding them third in the West Division. The Knights rank second in the Midwest with a 9-6-1-0 mark. While the Birds have points in five consecutive contests (3-0-1-1), the Knights are currently on a four-game winning streak.
Tonight marks the first of four games between these clubs this season, and the first of two to be played in London. All-time, the Firebirds hold a record of 6-15-1-2 versus the Knights and have gone 3-8-0-1 on the road in the series with two of those wins coming last year. For the season, these clubs met five times and Flint finished with a 2-1-0-2 record. Three of the five games were settled by a single goal.
On special teams, Flint has scored on 20.3% of their power-play chances, ranking them 11th in the OHL. London is converting at a rate of 17.6%, placing them in the 19th spot. The Birds have killed off 79.7% of the penalties they’ve taken, which is the tenth-best in the league. The Knights are 14th with a 74.7% kill rate.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (10-7-1-1, 3rd West Division):
Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings) leads the Firebirds in points with eight goals and 14 assists through 19 games played. Piercey, who played his 200th OHL game on Wednesday, has 21 points (8 G, 13 A). Gavin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) is third with 17 points (8 G, 9 A).
Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs) has contributed 15 points in the 11 games he’s played with the Birds this season. He leads the club in goals with ten and has pitched in five helpers. Kressler ranks fifth in the OHL in faceoff win percentage among players with 100+ draws at 60.0%. He’s also one of five players in the league with two shorthanded goals this year, and that’s tied for the most to date.
The defensive unit is led by Dmitry Kuzmin’s 15 points, stemming from two tallies and 13 helpers. He’s tied for the sixth most assists among defenders. Luca D’Amato ranks fifth in the entire OHL and third among league rearguards with a plus/minus rating of +13. New defender Artem Guryev (San Jose Sharks) played his first game with Flint on Wednesday and scored the game-winning tally in a 2-1 triumph.
In goal, Flint’s netminders are led by overage veteran Will Cranley (St. Louis Blues), who’s played in 16 games this season. He’s posted a 3.04 goals-against average (GAA), and his .913 save percentage (SV%) is fourth-best in the league. Cranley is credited with seven victories. Nathan Day has three wins across six appearances and carries a GAA of 4.95 with a .832 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 NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Preliminary Draft Rankings.
Despite Flint playing in just seven OHL seasons thus far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Detroit), Kole Sherwood (Columbus), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas), and Tyler Tucker (St. Louis) are four 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). In total, the team has produced 24 signed or drafted players into the NHL.
London Knights (9-6-1-0, 2nd Midwest Division):
George Diaco is tied atop the charts for the Knights with 21 points (10 G, 11 A) through 15 games played. His six power-play goals are tied for the second-most in the league, and he’s tied with at the top for scoring the first goal of the game five times this season. Sean McGurn also has 21 points, stemming from six tallies and a club-high 15 assists in 16 contests. Denver Barkey is third with four goals and 12 assists for 16 points.
The defensive unit is topped by Logan Mailloux (Montreal Canadians) with five goals and seven assists in 11 games. Rookie defender Oliver Bonk is close behind with 11 points (3 G, 8 A).
The Knights’ starting goaltender is Brett Brochu with seven wins in 13 appearances. He carries a 3.27 goals-against average (GAA) and a .879 save percentage (SV%). Rookie Zach Bowen has two victories in five appearances, posting a 2.96 GAA and an SV% of .895.
NHL: The Knights have five players with NHL ties, including Max McCue (San Jose), Landon Sim (St. Louis), Isaiah George (N.Y. Islanders), Logan Mailloux (Montreal), and Jackson Edward (Boston). Additionally, Oliver Bonk, Denver Barkey, and Easton Cowan, were named to NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Preliminary Draft Rankings.
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), starting with the pre-game show at 6:40 p.m. (ET).
The game will be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 461. 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.
All Flint Firebirds’ home and away games throughout the 2022-23 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 $7.99 for 24-hour access, $29.99 for monthly access, $119.99 for all-access to the 2022-23 Firebirds and OHL season, or $179.99 for all-access to the entire 2022-23 CHL season.
Next Up: The Firebirds host the Knights on Saturday as this series returns to the Dort Financial Center for a 7:00 p.m. (ET) opening puck drop. Tickets for Saturday’s home contest are available now from ETIX HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club