Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds will once again host the Erie Otters Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the newly renovated Dort Financial Center (cap. 3,939) in Flint. It will be Pink Out the Rink night, brought to you by the McLaren Flint Foundation. Fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness. Additionally, the Firebirds will wear a special pink jersey. All player jerseys will be auctioned off live postgame with all the proceeds benefiting breast cancer initiatives and McLaren Flint.
On Saturday night, the ‘Birds launched the 2021-22 campaign with a decisive 3-0 victory over Erie in front of more than 2,800 fans at the Dort Financial Center. Veteran netminder Luke Cavallin stole the show with 35 saves en-route to his first career OHL shutout. Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), first-year forward Coulson Pitre, and Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) each lit the lamp for Flint, and first-year defenseman Tristan Bertucci logged his first OHL point with an assist on the Pitre goal.
All-time Flint carries a record of 7-7-2-3 against Erie, with a home record of 4-4-2-0. Nine of the 19 total regular-season meetings have gone to overtime, with five of those requiring a shootout to determine the victor. Thursday marks the second of 12 total meetings between these squads this season, and the second of six to be played in Flint.
On special teams, the Firebirds finished Saturday’s game without a power-play tally on three attempts. They held Erie scoreless on six man-advantage opportunities. At the early termination of the 2019-20 campaign, Flint was ranked 15th on the power play, scoring on 19.9% of their opportunities. The Otters concluded the 2019-20 season ranked 18th with the man-advantage, scoring at a 17.7% clip. Both squads’ penalty-kill ranked inside the top-five in the league during the 2019-20 season. Erie finished fourth with a success rate of 82.0% and the ‘Birds ranked fifth at 80.8%.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (1-0-0-0, 3rd West Division):
Braeden Kressler (G), Coulson Pitre (G), Brennan Othmann (G) and Tristan Bertucci (A) all have one point on the stat sheet after only one contest.
Newly acquired overage forward Tag Bertuzzi logged 47 total points (25 G, 22 A) through 57 contests during the shortened 2019-20 OHL season. In the group of returning Firebirds’ players from the 2019-20 season, Riley Piercey logged the most total points with 34 (17 G, 17 A) through 62 games. Brennan Othmann found twine 17 times during the 2019-20 season, which was sixth-most among OHL rookies. He finished tied for 10th among the league’s first-year player class in total points with 33 through 55 games. Tyler Deline topped the returning rearguards with six total points (6 A) in 43 games in the most recent season played.
In net, veteran Flint netminder Luke Cavallin played two exhibition games and earned two victories. He finished with a 4.00 goals-against average (GAA) and a .852 save-percentage (SV%). At the early conclusion of the 2019-20 season, Cavallin was credited with 11 wins in 20 appearances, with a 3.68 GAA and .895 SV%. First-year goaltenders Nathaniel Day and Ian Michelone split time in the other two exhibition contests, earning valuable experience at the OHL level. Day finished with .765 SV% and Michelone’s was .800.
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). In addition, Tag Bertuzzi was invited to the recent Montreal Canadians rookie camp and forward Sahil Panwar was an invitee at Los Angeles Kings camp.
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.
Erie Otters (0-1-0-0, 5th Midwest Division):
Former 2018 U18 first-round draft pick (4th overall) Daniel D’Amato leads the class of returning players for Erie, having logged 18 goals and adding 14 assists through 63 GP in the 2019-20 season. Brendan Sellan ranked second with 29 total points (13 G, 14 A) in 63 contests a season ago. Sellan also finished the 2021 preseason ranked third in the league with nine points (5 G, 4 A) through five GP. Connor Lockhart (Vancouver Canucks) topped the rookies on the Otters’ roster in the 2019-20 campaign with 27 total points (9 G, 18 A) through 57 GP. His point total ranked him 16th among first-year players in the league that season. The top returning defenseman for Erie from the 2019-20 scoresheet is Cameron Morton who earned 12 points (3 G, 9 A) in 58 GP.
Returning winger Noah Sedore notched five goals and six helpers for 11 total points through five exhibition contents. His 11 points ranked him top in OHL for the 2021 preseason. First-year blue-liner Spencer Sova lead the preseason scoring for the Otters’ defense with six points (2 G, 4 A).
Between the pipes, returning goaltender Aidan Campbell played two preseason games and recorded two wins. He finished with a 4.01 GAA and a .784 SV%. In the 2019-20 season, Campbell was credited with 10 wins in 26 appearances, earning a 3.65 GAA and a .872 SV%. First-year netminder Nolan LaLonde made 30 saves on 33 shots in Flint Saturday night. During the preseason, he appeared in three contests, recording one victory along with a 3.00 GAA and a SV% of .891. Marshall Nichols played in two contests and recorded a GAA of 6.04 and a .778 SV%.
NHL: Connor Lockhart (Vancouver Canucks) is the lone player on Erie’s roster with NHL ties. Additionally, Daniel D’Amato attended the Vegas Golden Knights main camp this preseason.
Thursday evening’s contest against the Erie Otters 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 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m. Thursday evening.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 466 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.
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 519-9347 ext. 223