Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds begin a two-game weekend home-stand when the club faces-off against the Mississauga (pronounced miss-is-saw-guh) Steelheads Friday. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center.
Despite dropping their past two games, the Firebirds are off to their best start in franchise history, posting a 10-5-0-0 record thus far which has them second in the West Division and third in the Western Conference. The Firebirds also hold one of the league’s best home records, going 6-1-0-0 on home ice.
Firebirds’ captain Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Mississauga Steelheads defenseman Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars) both represented Team OHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series Thursday in Kitchener, Ont. (Watch Highlights). The Firebirds are still without forwards Brennan Othmann and Braeden Kressler, while Mississauga is without Ethan Del Mastro who all are still representing Canada at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.
Friday night marks the first of two regular-season meetings between these clubs this campaign, and the only time they’ll meet in Flint. All-time, the Firebirds hold a record of 2-5-0-1 in games against the Steelheads. The ‘Birds are 1-3-0-0 in the series on home ice. Last season Flint finished with an overall record of 0-2-0-0 versus the Fish.
Mississauga enters Saturday’s tilt with a season record of 5-10-0-0. The Steelheads are 2-4-0-0 in road games. Last Saturday night, Flint dropped a 5 – 1 decision to the Barrie Colts in their first defeat in Flint. Mississauga defeated the Niagara IceDogs in St. Catharines, Ont. by a score of 4 – 2 on Saturday.
The last time these teams met was January 18 in Mississauga. Flint’s Jack Wismer led the ‘Birds with two goals, and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers), Emmet Pierce and Evan Vierling each found the back of the net. Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) and Hunter Holmes each picked up two assists, as well. It was the ‘Fish,’ however, who earned an 8-5 victory that night. James Hardie scored twice to lead the Steelheads on the scoresheet.
On special teams this season, the Firebirds are converting on the power play at a rate of 13.3%. The Steelheads rank 18th in the OHL, scoring at a 17.7% clip. Mississauga is killing penalties at a rate of 70.6%, which is 17th-best in the OHL. Flint’s penalty-killers rank 15th at a 73.7% efficiency.
Friday is the Firebirds’ ‘810 Night.’ The organization is celebrating the Greater Flint Area by offering $8 bronze level tickets and $10 silver level tickets. Also, the first 400 fans in attendance will receive a free Firebirds’ ’810’ shirt, compliments of Kidd Company in Clio. Additionally, the official Firebirds’ foam finger will be on sale for a reduced price of $8 and the official Firebirds’ cowbell will be on sale for $10.
Friday also marks the second of the ‘Firebirds 4 Pack Fridays! Fans can get 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 soft drinks starting at just $60.
Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 Bronze, $16 Silver, $20 Gold and $26 VIP seating (Seating Chart). All seats are reserved / assigned seating. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (810) 744-0580, in-person at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (10-5-0-0, T-2nd West Division, T-2nd Western Conference):
Evgeniy Oksentyuk continues to lead the way for Flint with seven goals and a team-leading 11 assists for 18 points through 15 contests. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) is on a three-game point-streak, has points in 11 of 13 games this season, racking up seven goals and 10 helpers for 17 total points. Defenseman Riley McCourt is averaging nearly a point per game with four goals and ten assists in 15 games-played, ranking the rearguard third on Flint’s scoresheet. His 14 total points are tied for tenth-most among all defensemen, and his four goals are tied for ninth-most in a group that includes fellow Firebird blue-liner Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers). McCourt also ranks 12th in the OHL with his .93 points-per-game average.
Jake Durham leads Flint in goals with eight, plus has five assists for 13 total points. Durham has the chance to become the Firebirds’ all-time games-played leader with 218 games as a Flint Firebird. Durham also holds the current record for most consecutive games played, not missing a game through 207 straight. Hakon Nilsen currently holds the title with 217 games-played. Third-year forward Jack Wismer is slated to play his 150th career regular-season game with the ‘Birds on Friday night, also.
Defenseman Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) holds OHL’s sixth-best plus/minus rating a +11. He also ranks third on the blue line with eight points (2G, 6A).
Between the pipes, Anthony Popovich has played in 10 games this season. His seven victories are tied for fifth-most in the OHL. He also ranks 13th among OHL goaltenders with a save-percentage (SAV%) of .903, and 13th in goals-against average (GAA) at 3.34. Luke Cavallin now has three wins in six appearances, and he carries a 4.09 GAA with a .890 SAV%.
NHL: The Firebirds have four players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers). In addition, Evan Vierling was named to the 2020 NHL Central Scouting ‘Players to Watch’ list.
Mississauga (5-10-0-0, 4th Central Division, 8th Eastern Conference):
Defenseman Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars) has played in 13 games this season and leads the Steelheads in goals with eight, which is the most by any rearguard in the OHL. He has a total of 18 points, which ranks him fifth on the defensive list. Harley’s averaging 1.38 points per game, which is the third highest average among the league’s blue-liners. Cole Schwindt (Florida Panthers) has played in 15 games and ranks second in scoring with three goals and nine helpers for 12 points. Richard Whittaker sits third on the stat sheet with 11 total points (4G, 7A).
First-year defenseman Ole Bjogvik-Holm has seven assists, which ranks fifth among rookies in the league. The seven points have him leading the freshman class for the Fish.
Goaltender Kai Edmonds played for the Barrie Colts the last two seasons. Since joining Mississauga, he’s appeared in 12 games and earned four victories. He carries the OHL’s 16th-best goals-against average (GAA) of 3.60 and the 16th-best save-percentage (SAV%) of .883. Second-year netminder Joe Ranger has three appearances with one win. He has a GAA of 6.04 and a SAV% of .830.
NHL: The Steelheads have four players with NHL ties consisting of Keean Washkurak (St. Louis Blues), Cole Schwindt (Florida Panthers) and Thomas Harley (Dallas Stars).
Mississauga alumni to play in the NHL include Trevor Carrick, Dylan DeMelo, Spencer Martin, Michael McLeod, Stuart Percy, Alexander Nylander and Owen Tippett.
Friday evening’s contest against Mississauga cannot be heard on the radio as it is one-of-six conflicts on the 68-game schedule. However, Firebirds’ broadcaster Dominic Hennig will call the TV 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. New this season, fans can watch the FHN TV Pregame Show live on Facebook and Twitter, also beginning at 6:30 p.m.
The game will be televised 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. Along with Friday’s game, 64 of the Firebirds’ 68 games throughout the 2019-20 season are also scheduled to be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak.
All Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2019-20 season can be watched anywhere in the world online on www.ohllive.com or on the OHL Live app. OHL Live is a league 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 per game, $69.99 for Flint Firebirds away games only, $149.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $179.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2019-20 season.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communication
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club