Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds will host the Kitchener Rangers for the first time this season Saturday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center in Flint.
The Firebirds enter Saturday’s contest in fourth place in the West Division with a record of 6-4-0-0. The Rangers sit fourth in the Midwest, with a 6-7-0-0 record. On home ice this year, the ‘Birds are 3-3-0-0 compared to Kitchener’s road record of 2-3-0-0. All-time, Flint carries a record of 8-10-2-0 against Kitchener, with a home record of 2-7-1-0. In the shortened 2019-20 season, the ‘Birds won two of three games in the series.
The last time these clubs met was November 5 in Kitchener. That night, Flint came out on top 6-4 in the high-scoring affair. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) logged his first career hat trick (3 G) to lead the Firebirds. Coulson Pitre (1 G, 2 A) and Tristan Bertucci (1 G, 1 A) also offered a strong offensive showing. Francesco Pinelli (2 G, 1 A) and Antonio Pugliese (1 G, 1 A) topped the stats for the Rangers. Luke Cavallin made 19 saves on 23 shots to earn the victory.
Most recently, the Firebirds dropped a 4-2 decision to the Saginaw Spirit on home ice Friday night in front of more than 2,400 fans. For Flint, Sahil Panwar scored his first goal of the season and Zacharie Giroux potted his fourth. Between the pipes, Luke Cavallin made 29 saves on 32 shots and the New York Islanders’ prospect Tristan Lennox stopped 23 of Flint’s 25 shots to earn his fourth victory of the campaign. The Rangers’ most recent game was also a 4 – 2 defeat Friday night, with theirs being at the hands of the Owen Sound Attack.
On special teams, the Firebirds are converting with the man-advantage at a 13.3% rate, which ranks them 18th in the 20-team OHL. Kitchener has scored at a success rate of 15.2%, which ranks them 17th. Flint is killing penalties at an 84.6% clip, ranking sixth in the league. The Rangers’ penalty-kill is tied for 11th, with a 78.2% success rate.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (6-4-0-0, 4th West Division):
Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) continues to top the stats, leading the ‘Birds with eight goals and four assists for 12 total points through ten games. Three Flint players are tied with seven points each. Rookie Coulson Pitre has four goals and three assists in eight games played. Amadeus Lombardi has three goals and four helpers through 10 contests. Defender Tyler Deline also has seven points (2 G, 5 A) in ten games.
In net, Luke Cavallin has appeared in nine games thus far. He carries a goals-against average (GAA) of 3.24. His save percentage (SV%) is .901. Cavallin has earned five wins, with one of them being a shutout against the Erie Otters on opening night. Rookie netminder Ian Michelone played one full game, making 32 saves on 33 shots in the victory. Nathaniel Day played the final 18 minutes of a road game in Saginaw and turned aside all four shots faced.
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). Also, Gavin Hayes was recently named to the 2021 NHL Central Scouting October Players to Watch List. More recently, defenseman Tristan Bertucci and netminder Nathaniel Day were both among the 24 OHL players named to Hockey Canada’s Under-17 roster to participate at the inaugural Capital City Challenge. The Capital City Challenge is a four-team tournament featuring three men’s under-17 teams and Canada’s National Women’s Team to take place November 26 to December 1 at TD Place in Ottawa.
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.
Kitchener Rangers (6-7-0-0, 4th Midwest Division):
Francesco Pinelli (Los Angeles Kings) leads the Rangers in offense with five goals and 11 assists through 12 games played. Mike Petizian has the most goals on the club at eight plus six helpers for 14 total points in 13 contests. Joseph Serpa ranks third in scoring with four tallies and 10 assists for 14 points through 13 games.
The Rangers’ top-scoring rearguard is Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Roman Schmidt (5 G, 3 A) in 13 games. The top rookie on the scoresheet is Cameron Mercer with one tally and four helpers.
Pavel Cajan has appeared between the pipes eight times this season. Cajan carries a 3.35 goals-against average (GAA) and a save-percentage (SV%) of .905. Rookie netminder Jackson Parsons has played in five games, posting a 3.82 GAA and a .876 GAA plus two victories.
NHL: Kitchiner’s roster features four players with NHL ties, consisting of Declan McDonnell (Tampa Bay Lightning), Francesco Pinelli (Los Angeles Kings), Roman Schmidt (Tampa Bay Lightning), and Arber Xhekaj (Montreal Canadians). Additionally, twin brothers Andrew LeBlanc (center) and Jacob LeBlanc (defense) were named to the 2021 NHL Central Scouting October Players to Watch List.
21 notable Kitchener Rangers’ alumni to play in the NHL are Brian Bellows, Andre Benoit, Shawn Burr, David Clarkson, Paul Coffey, Boyd Devereaux, Steve Downie, John Gibson, Dale Hunter, Nazem Kadri, Jakub Kindl, Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Lashoff, Al MacInnis, Don Maloney, Wayne Presley, Mike Richards, Larry Robinson, Derek Roy, Jeff Skinner and Scott Stevens.
Saturday evening’s contest against the Kitchener Rangers 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 6:45 p.m. (ET) Saturday evening.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 467 (4467 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 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.
Next Home Game: The Firebirds return to home ice Friday night to host the Erie Otters for the third time this season. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET). Tickets are on sale NOW here: ETIX.
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 519-9347 ext. 223