Firebirds Ride Six-Game Winning Streak into Oshawa Sunday
Flint, Mich. – With the playoffs only two weeks away, the Flint Firebirds have turned up the heat in their playoff push. They’ve won six straight and have points in eight of their last ten games. The Oshawa Generals sit in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and are only one point ahead of Kingston in ninth. With plenty on the line for both clubs, an important game will begin with a 6:05 p.m. (ET) puck drop at the Tribute Communities Center.
After sweeping their recent five-game homestand, the Firebirds traveled to Erie, Penn. last night and skated away with a 7-4 victory. Gavin Hayes scored his third hat trick of the season and picked up a helper to lead the offensive charge, while Coulson Pitre posted two goals and an assist. Nathan Day got the start but was relieved after Erie tied the game at four just shy of the midway point of the second period. Will Cranley came in and shut out the Otters stopping all 21 shots he saw.
Tonight’s game marks the second of only two against the Generals and is the only game of the season to be played at the Tribute Communities Centre. Back on October 29, the Firebirds won a wild 8-7 game at the Dort Financial Center in a shootout. Riley Piercey was the ‘First Star’ of the game after posting four points (2 G, 2 A). Gavin Hayes lit the lamp twice and added a helper for a three-point outing. Flint’s all-time record versus the Generals sits at 4-6-0-0 but is only 1-3-0-0 in games played in Oshawa.
The Firebirds enter tonight’s tilt with a record of 31-26-4-1 and now have points in nine of their last ten games. They rank fourth in the West Division and fifth in the Western Conference. Flint’s posted a 15-14-2-0 mark on the road this year. The Generals come in fourth in the East Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference with a 25-30-1-5 mark. They’re 13-14-1-2 on home ice this season.
On special teams, the Firebirds have converted on 19.8% of their power-play chances this season, ranking them 16th in the OHL. They need just one more power-play tally on the road to tie their club record of 22 in a season. Oshawa has the second-best power play in the OHL, sitting at 25.4%. While shorthanded, the Birds are 11th-best with a 78.1% efficiency. They’ve netted ten shorthanded tallies in road games this year, now three beyond the previous franchise record of seven. The Generals are killing penalties 78.3% of the time, good for ninth.
Players to Watch
Firebirds (31-26-4-1, 4th West Division):
Amadeus Lombardi has 42 goals and 46 assists for 88 total points through 62 games. He’s potted the sixth-most goals in the league and is tied for the third-highest point total. Gavin Hayes ranks second on the team with 34 tallies and 36 helpers in 61 contests. Overage forward Riley Piercey is third with 63 points (19 G, 44 A) in 62 games played.
Defender Dmitry Kuzmin continues to lead the rearguards for Flint, now with 14 goals and 45 assists through 62 tilts. He’s fourth among all league defenders in point total, tied for the eighth-most goals, and ranks sixth in assists. Draft-eligible defenseman Tristan Bertucci has the second-most points of the rearguards on the team with ten tallies and 35 helpers.
Rookie netminder Nathan Day won seven-consecutive starts for the Birds before exiting last night’s game in Erie shy of the midway point. For the season, he has 15 wins in 29 appearances and carries a 3.97 goals-against average (GAA) with a .872 save percentage (SV%). Veteran goaltender Will Cranley has appeared in 41 contests and now has 16 victories. He’s posted a 3.94 goals-against average (GAA) with a .882 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.
Oshawa Generals (25-30-1-5, 4th East Division):
Ryan Gagnier sits atop the stats for Oshawa with 64 total points (27 G, 37 A) through 59 games. Calum Ritchie sits second with 24 goals and 34 helpers in 58 games. Stuart Rolofs leads the Generals in goals with 30 plus 25 assists for 55 points in 55 tilts. His 12 power-play tallies are tied for ninth in the OHL.
Leading rookie Beckett Sennecke ranks sixth in points for Oshawa with 16 goals and 32 assists. Out of all rookies in the league this season, Sennecke ranks second in points, total assists, power-play assists (10), and points-per-game at 0.89. He’s also tied for the seventh-most goals among first-year players. Former Firebirds’ defender Luca D’Amato leads the blue-line unit for the Generals with 33 total points (5 G, 28 A). His +25 rating in plus/minus is tied for the ninth-highest among league defensemen.
Jacob Oster has donned the pads in 42 contests this season, earning 15 wins including three shutouts. He sports a 4.09 goals-against average (GAA) with a save percentage (SV%) of .873. Carter Bickle has played in 22 games, earning six victories with a 4.81 GAA and a .855 SV%.
NHL: The Generals are without any players who have NHL ties currently. However, centerman Calum Ritchie is the highest-ranked centerman in the OHL and the 17th-ranked skater in North America according to the NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Midterm Rankings for the upcoming NHL Draft.
Nearly 200 of Oshawa’s alumni have played in the NHL, including Bobby Orr, Ted Lindsay, Eric Lindros, John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck, Jason Arnott, Dan Hinote, Boone Jenner, Alex Delvecchio and Claude Julien.
This evening’s contest against the Oshawa Generals 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 5:40 p.m. (ET) today.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 469 (4469 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: Following tonight’s match in Oshawa, the Birds will travel to Owen Sound for a Wednesday evening game versus the Attack. Jack Sznewajs will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Pregame coverage will begin 15 minutes before puck drop at 6:45 p.m. (ET) 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. The Firebirds return to home ice on Friday, March 17. Puck drop for the St. Patrick’s Day game is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center, and tickets are available now from ETIX.COM HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club