Preview: Firebirds face Niagara in front of expected sellout crowd Saturday

Aaron Bell / OHL Images
Flint Firebirds at Niagara IceDogs
Date | Time Saturday, January 19th | 7:00 p.m.
Location St. Catharines, Ont. | Meridian Centre (capacity 5,580)
Tickets Buy Online | (905) 687-3641
TV – Cogeco TV channel 10/700 HD Live (Niagara)
– OHL Action Pak: Rogers TV 445 & Cogeco TV 445 Live (Ontario)
Video Stream OHL Live
Radio WQUS 103.1 FM (Flint & Mid-Michigan) | Pregame Show: 6:30p
Radio (Mobile) US 103 App: Android | iPhone/iPad
Live Stats Here
Next Home Game Wednesday, Jan. 30: (Promotions)
Social Media @FlintFirebirds   | Facebook | Instagram

St. Catharines, Ont. – The Firebirds continue their five-game road trip Saturday night against the Niagara IceDogs. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Meridian Centre (capacity 5,580).

All-time, Flint is 1-5-1-0 against Niagara and are 0-3-0-0 at the Meridian Centre in St. Catharines. However, the Firebirds have won three of their past six games and have points in four of those six contests. The last meeting between these two teams was on Oct. 28 at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint. Niagara tallied a 7-1 win over the Firebirds with Ty Dellandrea scoring the lone goal for Flint. Niagara’s Akil Thomas had a four point night (1G, 3A) and Kyen Sopa recorded two goals.

Most recently, the Firebirds began their five-game road trip last night in Mississauga. Despite being tied 2-2 after the first period, and trailing by one with 10 minutes left in the game, Mississauga posted a 8-5 victory over the Firebirds (watch highlights). Niagara was idle Friday following a 10-0 victory on home-ice against the Hamilton Bulldogs (watch highlights). In the past four home contests, the IceDogs have averaged 6.5 goals for per game.

On special teams, Niagara has the OHL’s fourth-best power-play, converting on 26.1% of their opportunities. Flint is 19th operating at 14.7%. On the penalty-kill, the IceDogs are 18th in the OHL at 73.8% while Flint is 19th at 69.1%.


Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (8-34-3-0, 5th West Division):
Ethan Keppen enters Saturday night’s contest on a seven-game point streak. Keppen is third on the Firebirds’ roster with 33 points (14G, 19A) in 45 games this season. Jack Wismer earned a two-point night last night and now has eight points in his last seven games. Emmet Pierce recorded a goal and an assist yesterday to now have three points in four-career OHL games. Niagara-on-the-lake native Hunter Holmes has four points in the past four games. Holmes has 16 points (6G, 10A) in 45 contests this season.

After lighting-the-lamp last night, defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok leads the Firebirds’ newcomers and defenseman with 23 points (3G, 21A) in 33 appearances. He has nine points in the past six games (3G, 6A), and his points-per-game average is inside the top 20 among defensemen in the OHL this season. Kolyachonok will play for Team Orr in the upcoming 2019 Sherwin Williams CHL / NHL Top Prospects Game. St. Catharines native Riley McCourt tops Flint’s defensive troops in goals-scored with five, and now has 19 points in 27 games. Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) has two points in four games since making his first appearance of the season last Thursday.

In net, Emanuel Vella holds a 5.06 goals-against average (GAA) and a .870 save percentage (SAV%) in 28 appearances. Luke Cavallin has compiled a 5.20 GAA and a .860 SAV% across 23 appearances.

NHL: The Firebirds have two players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars). In addition, Luke Cavallin, Kyle Harris, Ethan Keppen, Vladislav Kolyachonok, Eric Uba, Cody Morgan, Emmet Pierce and Jacob Winterton are eight first-time eligible skaters for the upcoming NHL Draft in June. Luke Cavallin, forward Ethan Keppen and defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok were named to November’s NHL Central Scouting’s North American ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming NHL Draft.

Despite Flint playing in just their fourth season in the OHL, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets) are two former Firebirds to play in the NHL. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit Red Wings) have played in NHL pre-season contests.

Niagara IceDogs (25-10-7-0, 1st Central Division):
The IceDogs have four players in the top-15 in points in the OHL. Lead by former Kingston Frontenac Jason Robertson (Dallas Stars) who has 66 points (31G, 35A) in 36 games this season. Ben Jones (Vegas Golden Knights) also has 66 points (26G, 40A) in in 42 games. Jones has five-consecutive three-point games and is riding a nine game point streak. Kirill Maksimov (Edmonton Oilers) has 59 points (28G, 31A) in 39 games and is on a nine-game point streak. Akil Thomas (Los Angeles Kings) has 58 points (19G, 39A) in 37 games this season. Thomas is in the midst of a four-game point streak.

Between the pipes, Stephen Dhillon is the ninth-best goaltender in the OHL with a 3.05 GAA. He has a .907 SAV% and 21 wins in 35 games this season. Former Sudbury Wolves’ netminder Jake McGrath has played in 13 games this season and has a 3.68 GAA and a .875%.

NHL: Niagara has nine skaters with NHL ties on their roster consisting of Matt Brassard (Vancouver Canucks), Daniel Bukac (Boston Bruins), Ben Jones (Vegas Golden Knights), Ivan Lodnia (Minnesota Wild), Kirill Maksimov (Edmonton Oilers), Jacob Paquette (Nashville Predators), Jason Robertson (Dallas Stars), Jack Studnicka (Boston Bruins) and Akil Thomas (Los Angeles Kings).

Notable IceDogs’ alumni to play in the NHL include Alex Pietrangelo, Ryan Strome, Dougie Hamilton, Tom Kuhnhackl, Jamie Oleksiak, Brett Ritchie, and Andrew Shaw


Broadcast Coverage:
Saturday evening’s contest in Niagara 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. Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action on the Flint Firebirds Hockey Radio Network. Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.

The game will also be televised live in Niagara on YourTV channel 10 / 700 (HD) for Cogeco TV cable subscribers and across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 445 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 Saturday’s game, 65 of the Firebirds’ 68 games throughout the 2018-19 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 2018-19 season can be watched anywhere in the world online on 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, $179.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $279.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2018-19 season.


Next Home Game:
Flint will compete in four more road games before returning home to the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center on Wednesday, Jan 30. The London Knights will be in town for their final appearance of the season. The game marks another ‘Winning Wednesday’. The Firebirds are offering amazing deals for all Wednesday home games, featuring $2 Beers, $2 Hot Dogs and $2 Pop Corn. Also, every time the Firebirds win at home on a Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday home game.

The game on Jan 30 will also conclude the “Firebirds Fight Hunger” month. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to the Firebirds’ merchandise store, ‘The Birds Nest,’ at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a complimentary sponsored Silver Level ticket to any home Firebirds’ game in the month of January, courtesy of Dort Federal Credit Union, AMD Urgent Care, Captain’s Quarters Lounge, Little Caesars Pizza and Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) Flint.

Additionally, There are 12 custom Firebirds’ backpacks, stitched with players’ last name, number and Firebirds’ logo up for bid on an online auction until Jan. 30. All have a minimum retail value of $250 worth of products or services inside each bag! Fans can bid now here:

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 here.

Photo Credit: Aaron Bell / OHL Images


For more information:

Dominic Hennig
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 519-9347

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