Windsor, Ont. – The Firebirds cross the border today to visit Windsor for the first time since Game 7 of last year’s Western Conference Finals. Now, only two points separate the clubs in the middle of the West Division standings. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET) at the WFCU Centre.
Flint enters tonight’s game with a record of 11-8-2-1, placing them fourth in the West Division. They’ve gone 4-3-2-1 in their past ten. In eight games versus West Division opponents, the Birds have points in eight with a record of 6-1-2-0. The only regulation loss versus the West was at the hands of the Spitfires in Flint in October. Windsor comes to town with a 12-5-3-0 mark, placing third in the West Division. They’re an even 5-5-0-0 in their past ten.
Tonight marks the second of six contests versus the Spits this season, and the first of three scheduled in Windsor. Last season, these clubs met eight times, and the Birds finished 1-5-1-1 in the series. On the road, Flint went 0-2-1-1 versus the Spitfires. All time, the Firebirds are 12-24-2-1 with an away record of 4-12-2-1.
In their one previous meeting this season, the Firebirds jumped out to an early 4-1 lead in a wild 7-goal first period. It was the Spitfires that finished on top 6-5 on October 22. Westland, Mich. native Gavin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) led the charge for the Birds with two goals and an assist, earning ‘First Star’ recognition. Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) contributed three points (3 A) and Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings) had a two-point (1 G, 1 A) night. The Spitfires were led by four players with a pair of points each, including Livonia, Mich. native Ryan Abraham (2 A), Alex Christopoulos (2 G), Colton Smith (1 G, 1 A), and Matthew Maggio (1 G, 1 A).
On special teams, the Firebirds have converted on 21.6% of their power-play chances, ranking them tenth in the league. The Spits have found success 23.4% of the time, which is currently sixth-best in the OHL. Flint has killed off 77.4% of their penalties, the 12th-best rate in the league. Windsor has the 18th-ranked penalty kill at 71.8% efficiency.
Players to Watch
Flint Firebirds (11-8-2-1, 4th West Division):
Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings) leads the Firebirds in assists (16) and points (25) through 22 games played. Riley Piercey ranks second with 23 points (10 G, 13 A). Gavin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) is third with eight tallies and 13 helpers. Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs) has scored the most goals for Flint with 11 and 17 total points through 14 contests.
The defensive unit is led by Dmitry Kuzmin’s 17 points, stemming from three tallies and 14 helpers. Luca D’Amato ranks second in the OHL with a plus/minus rating of +17.
In goal, Flint’s netminders are led by overage veteran Will Cranley (St. Louis Blues), who’s played in 18 games this season. He’s posted a 3.28 goals-against average (GAA), and his .903 save percentage (SV%) is fifth-best in the league. Cranley is credited with seven victories. Nathan Day now has four wins across seven appearances and carries a GAA of 4.78 with a .829 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.
Windsor Spitfires (12-5-3-0, 3rd West Division):
The Spitfires are led on the scoresheet by Matthew Maggio (New York Islanders) with 12 goals and 13 assists through 18 games played. Alex Christopoulos has the most goals with 15 and is second in total points with 23. Ryan Abraham ranks third with seven goals and 16 helpers through 20 games. Defenseman Michael Renwick tops the blue-liners with 15 points (7 G, 8 A).
Between the pipes, fourth-season netminder Mathias Onuska has eight wins through 15 appearances. He carries a 4.21 goals-against average (GAA) and a save percentage (SV%) of .869. Rookie goaltender Joey Costanzo has four wins in eight appearances, and sports a 4.78 GAA and a .829 SV%.
NHL: The Spitfires have two players with NHL ties, including Daniil Sobolev (Montreal Canadians) and Matthew Maggio (New York Islanders). Additionally, Ethan Miedema, Bronson Ride, and Joey Costanzo were named to the most recent 2023 NHL Central Scouting Players to Watch List.
Notable Windsor alumni to play in the NHL include Ed Jovanovski, Matt Cooke, Cory Stillman, Jason Spezza, Steve Ott, Jason York, Josh Bailey, Tim Gleason, Mike Rupp, Cam Fowler, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Wellwood, Eric Wellwood, Todd Warriner, Steve Downie, Jamie Allison, and Ryan Ellis.
Tonight’s contest against the Windsor Spitfires 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 6:45 p.m. (ET).
The game will be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 468. 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 2021-22 Firebirds and OHL season, or $179.99 for all-access to the entire 2021-22 CHL season.
Next Up: The Firebirds return to Flint Saturday to host the Sarnia Sting. Saturday’s contest is the Firebirds’ annual Teddy Bear Toss Night. Fans are encouraged to bring a new or gently used Teddy Bear to the game and throw it on the ice after Flint scores their first goal of the game. All collected Teddy Bears will be donated to local non-profits and charities such as Whaley Children’s Center, Hurley Children’s Hospital, Ennis Center for Children, the YWCA and many more. Tickets for Saturday’s home game are available now from ETIX HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club