I-75 Divide Cup on the Line Tonight in Saginaw

Saginaw, Mich. – For the past six seasons, the Flint Firebirds and Saginaw Spirit have competed for the I-75 Divide Cup, presented by Coors Light. The Firebirds won the coveted trophy their first two seasons before surrendering it to their in-state rivals for the next three years. The I-75 Divide Cup returned to Flint a year ago, knotting the all-time series at 3-3. With a win tonight in Saginaw, the Birds have a shot at retaining the Cup another year. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET) at the Dow Event Center.

Tonight marks the seventh of eight total meetings between these teams in the regular season, and the fourth of four games at the Dow. Flint won the first meeting of the series on the road in October by a final score of 7-2. Then the Spirit claimed four straight wins over the Firebirds, two at home and two on the road. In the most recent tilt, Flint claimed a 4-2 triumph in front of more than 3,600 fans at the Dort Financial Center.

If the Firebirds can win the next two matchups with Saginaw, then the goal differential across the eight games will determine the winner. The Spirit currently hold a 25-22 surplus in that department. While Flint is trying to snap a two-game skid, their rivals come in winless in their past eight contests.

Leading the way for the Birds through six meetings is Braeden Kressler with five goals and five assists for ten points. Coulson Pitre and Gavin Hayes are tied for second with three goals and four assists each. Calumet, Mich. native Dean Loukus leads Saginaw against the Firebirds with five goals and five assists in the six games played. Rookie defenseman Zayne Parekh has four goals and one assist and 15-year-old Michael Misa has three goals and two assists versus Flint.

The Birds’ all-time record against their in-state rivals stands at 25-31-1-3. In road meetings, they hold a 14-16-0-0 mark. For the season, Flint is ranked fourth in the West Division and sixth in the Western Conference with an overall record of 22-21-2-1. Saginaw is one position and only three points ahead, ranking third in the West Division and fifth in the Western Conference. The Spirit are 24-18-2-0 for the year with a 12-9-0-0 record on home ice. The Birds have gone 13-10-1-0 on the road.

On special teams, Flint ranks 18th on the power play, converting at a 19.6% rate. The Spirit rank tenth, scoring at a 21.9% clip. The Birds hold the 13th place on the penalty-kill (PK), holding their opposition scoreless 77.7% of the time. Saginaw’s PK ranks seventh with an 80.0% success rate.

Players to Watch

Flint Firebirds (22-21-2-1, 4th West Division):

Amadeus Lombardi paces the Firebirds in scoring with 59 total points, stemming from 28 goals and 31 assists through 46 games. He’s tied for eighth in the OHL in goals and tenth in points. Gavin Hayes ranks second on the club with 24 tallies and 21 helpers for 45 points in 45 tilts. Riley Piercey has reclaimed the third spot with 43 points (15 G, 28 A) through 46 contests. He rides a four-game points streak, having picked up three goals and three assists in that span, in addition to a Gordie Howe hat trick over the weekend. Sophomore forward Coulson Pitre rides a seven-game points streak (6 G, 5 A) into the game this evening.

Atop the offensive statistics for the defensive players is Dmitry Kuzmin, who has nine goals and a team-high 32 helpers after playing 41 games. Overager Tyler Deline (5 G, 23 A) and second-year rearguard Tristan Bertucci (3 G, 25 A) are tied behind Kuzmin with 28 points each.

Between the pipes, Will Cranley has now appeared in 34 games for Flint this season. He has 15 wins to his credit including one shutout. Cranley holds a 3.72 goals-against average (GAA) with a .889 save percentage (SV%). Rookie netminder Nathan Day has seven wins in 18 appearances. His GAA is 4.40 and he carries an SV% of .852.

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, Blake Smith, and goaltender Nathan Day were listed on the NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Midseason Rankings.

Despite Flint playing in just seven OHL seasons thus far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina/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 24 signed or drafted players into the NHL.

Saginaw Spirit (24-18-2-0, 3rd West Division):

The Spirit are led on the scoresheet by “Exceptional Status” rookie Michael Misa, who turns 16 years old later this month. He tops the roster in goals (20), assists (27), and total points (47) in 37 games played. Misa also sits atop the entire rookie class in the league in all three categories, plus power-play goals (5) and a points-per-game average (1.29). Calumet, Mich. native Dean Loukus is second with 15 tallies and 28 helpers through 43 contests. Sitting third is Matyas Sapovaliv with 36 total points (14 G, 22 A). The rearguards are led by overage Saginaw native Mitchell Smith with six goals and 21 assists in the campaign.

Between the pipes, fourth-season netminder Tristan Lennox has backstopped the Spirit in 31 games. He now has 17 victories including two shutouts. Lennox has a 3.26 goals-against average (GAA) with a save percentage (SV%) of .881. Shelby Township, Mich. native Andrew Oke has posted six victories in 12 games, logging a 3.42 GAA and a SV% of .882.

NHL: The Spirit have three players on their roster with NHL ties, including Matyas Sapovaliv (Vegas Golden Knights), Hunter Haight (Minnesota Wild), and Tristan Lennox (New York Islanders). Additionally, Luke McNamara, Nic Sima, Joey Willis, Calem Mangone, and Novi, Mich. native PJ Forgione were named to the NHL Central Scouting’s 2023 Midseason Rankings.

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, Cole Perfetti, Dalton Prout, Tom Pyatt, Brandon Saad, Chris Thorburn, and Vincent Trocheck.

Broadcast Coverage:

This evening’s game against the Saginaw Spirit can be heard live on the radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM, online at, 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 466. 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 at 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.

Up Next: The Firebirds have two HUGE home games this weekend. Friday night the OHL-leading Ottawa 67’s are in town, and the Owen Sound Attack invade the Dort on Saturday.

The Firebirds will be celebrating National Women & Girls in Sports on Friday. The night includes a panel beginning at 5:30 p.m. that will be led by several successful women in the industry including Detroit Red Wings Reporter/Host Carley Johnston, the OHL’s first women linesperson Kirsten Welsh, USA Hockey Arena Program Coordinator Hannah McGowan, and the Flint Firebirds own Creative Content Coordinator Riley Fox. You can RSVP your spot to the panel NOW by simply clicking HERE to sign-up.

Then on Saturday, it’s Flint Generals Night sponsored by Shea Automotive. To kick things off, an alumni game between the Flint Generals and Muskegon Fury will be from 3:30-5:00 p.m. To gain access to this alumni game, you must purchase a ticket for the Saturday, February 4th game upon entering the arena concourse. There will also be a post-game Meet & Greet event in Arena 2 with both the Generals & Fury Alumni from 5:30-6:30 p.m. following the game. Tickets for the Meet & Greet event will be $20 and can be purchased at the Dort Financial Center Box Office Window or on, while supplies last. The alumni jerseys for both the Flint Generals and Muskegon Fury are available for auction NOW on the DASH auction app. Text DASH to 6866 to download the IOS or Android app or click this link ( to begin bidding. Alumni jersey proceeds will benefit the Kris Perani Hockey Foundation.

Following the Alumni Game, the Firebirds will be hosting the Owen Sound Attack at 7:00 p.m. Your Flint Firebirds will be wearing specialty Flint Generals throwback jerseys during the game and will be live-auctioned off following the conclusion of the Firebirds game. All jersey-auction proceeds are to benefit the Flint Firebirds Foundation.

Tickets for both home contests this weekend are available from ETIX HERE.

Story: Brandon Mills /

For more information, contact:

Jack Sznewajs
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club

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