Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds will host their in-state rival, Saginaw Spirit, for the final time of the season Friday night. Puck drop for game six of the I-75 Divide Cup, sponsored by Coors Light, is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint.
There are 10 players with NHL ties between both Flint and Saginaw’s current rosters Friday night which include the Firebirds’ Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and the Spirit’s Brady Gilmour (Detroit Red Wings), Damien Giroux (Minnesota Wild), Blade Jenkins (New York Islanders), Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers), Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona Coyotes), Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers), Reilly Webb (Detroit Red Wings) and Bode Wilde (New York Islanders). Six more players between the two teams are among the 50 OHL Players in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings’ ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming NHL Draft in June.
Friday marks the final of four meetings in Flint this season and the sixth of eight total match-ups during the 2018-19 regular season. All-time, Flint is 11-16-0-2 against Saginaw. In home games, the Firebirds are 7-6-0-2 versus the Spirit. Of the 28 regular-season OHL games played between these two clubs, eight games were decided by just one goal, seven of which required overtime. Flint is 5-3 in one-goal games with Saginaw.
Prior to dropping their past two games, Saginaw recorded a 16-1-1-0 record in their last 18 games. Both teams now enter the contest on a two-game skid, with one win in their past three contests. Flint has won 4 of their last 11 games and has points in 5 of their last 11.
On Wednesday, the Spirit dropped an 8 – 2 decision to the Storm in Guelph (Highlights). Flint had a one-goal advantage after the first period versus the Western Conference’s top-ranked London Knights on Wednesday before eventually surrendering a 4 – 3 defeat at the Dort Federal Event Center (Highlights). Three of the newest players on the Firebirds’ roster lit the lamp, starting with Emmet Pierce scoring for the first time against his former club. Evan Vierling and Cody Morgan netted the other two goals. Luke Cavallin made 41 saves between the pipes to keep Flint in striking distance.
For the fourth consecutive year, the team who wins the most regular-season meetings between the two clubs will take home the coveted I-75 Divide Cup, sponsored by Coors Light. In each of the first two series, the Cup remained in Flint. Last season, the Spirit claimed the Cup, winning seven of eight meetings. The Spirit have won the first five contests this season, thus tying the Cup series at two wins each.
On special teams, the Spirit rank fifth in the OHL on the power play, scoring 25.3% of the time. The Firebirds are 19th converting at a 14.5% clip with the man-advantage. Saginaw ranks sixth on the penalty-kill, shutting down the opposition 80.4% of the time. The Firebirds are killing penalties at a rate of 68.9%, which is also 19th-best in the OHL.
Friday marks the final time Saginaw will visit Flint this season. It’s a ‘4 Pack Friday,’ featuring (4) tickets, (4) hot dogs and (4) soft drinks, starting at just $60. In addition, the first 1,000 fans in attendance will receive a free stadium cup, compliments of PFCU. There will also be surveys behind section three available for fans to provide feedback to the Firebirds and Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center.
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 (9-38-3-0, 5th West Division):
Firebirds’ captain Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) leads Flint in assists (33) and points (50) in 44 games. Alternate captain Jake Durham leads Flint in goals (31) and is second on the Firebirds’ roster with 49 points in 50 games. Ethan Keppen ranks third with 37 points (17G, 20A) through 50 contests. After snapping a 10-game point streak two games-ago, Keppen has earned points in 10 of his last 12 games-played.
On the blue line, Vladislav Kolyachonok leads all first-year players and defenseman with 25 points (3G, 22A) in 36 games. Of note, Hakon Nilsen is expected to play his 200th career OHL game, all as a defender with the Firebirds. On Monday, Nilsen will turn 21-years-old, making this his final year of eligibility in the league. The Cape Coral, Fla. native is now the all-time games played leader for the Firebirds, recently surpassing Jacob Collins.
In net, overage goaltender Emanuel Vella holds a 4.87 goals-against average (GAA) and a .876 save percentage (SAV%) across 30 appearances. Second-year goaltender Luke Cavallin has a 5.38 GAA and a .860 SAV% after appearing in 26 contests. Vella and Cavallin each have four wins between the pipes.
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. Cavallin, Keppen, Kolyachonok and Uba were among the 50 OHL Players in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings ‘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.
Saginaw Spirit (30-14-2-2, 2nd West Division):
Cole Coskey leads the Spirit with 58 points (27G, 31A) in 44 games-played this season. Plymouth, Mich. native defenseman Bode Wilde (New York Islanders) tops the defensive squad and ranks second overall in offensive production with 13 goals and 37 assists through 42 contests. Recently acquired from the Mississauga Steelheads, Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers) now sits third on the squad with 48 points (16G, 32A) in 43 games. Also acquired from Mississauga, Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers) has 43 points (22G, 21A) in 34 games. Tippett is tied for second in league in the category of ‘First Goals.’ He has scored the first goal of the game seven times this season.
Cole Perfetti leads the first-year players on Saginaw’s roster with 20 goals and 22 assists, averaging just under a point-per-game through 43 contests.
Between the Pipes: Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona Coyotes) is from Moskva, Russia and was the 13th overall selection in the 2018 OHL Import Draft. He was selected by the Arizona Coyotes in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft. In 37 appearances with the Spirit this season, he has the ninth-best GAA at 3.13 and the ninth-best SAV% at .901. His 24 wins have him tied for the fourth-most in the OHL, and his three shutouts are tied for third-most. First-year netminder Tristan Lennox has one career shutout, which was against the Firebirds earlier this season. He now has four wins in nine appearances this season, with a GAA of 2.39 and a .909 SAV%.
NHL: Saginaw has eight players with NHL ties, including Brady Gilmour (Detroit Red Wings), Damien Giroux (Minnesota Wild), Blade Jenkins (New York Islanders), Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers), Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona Coyotes), Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers), Reilly Webb (Detroit Red Wings) and Bode Wilde (New York Islanders). Additionally, Nicholas Porco and Mason Millman were among the 50 OHL Players in NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming NHL Draft.
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, Dalton Prout, Tom Pyatt, Brandon Saad, Chris Thorburn and Vincent Trocheck.
Friday evening’s contest against Saginaw 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. 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 across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak in high definition on channel 436 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 477 for 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, 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.
Through Saginaw’s partnership, the game will also be televised on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, February 3rd at 8 p.m. (ET) on WNEM-TV5 Plus. The channel can be found on 5.2 via antennae over the air, channel 199 for Charter Cable subscribers and channel 4 for Comcast/Xfinity cable subscribers.
All Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2018-19 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, $179.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $279.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2018-19 season.
Blue Line Club Menu:
Presented by Great Lakes Sandwich Co & Cafe, Friday evening’s dinner menu for the Blue Line Club features beef pot roast with gravy, mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, green beans, garden salad and dinner rolls. The menu is available to all sponsors and season ticket holders for $12 per person. Dinner RSVP’s are encouraged by emailing Karla Turner at email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Ron Crichton / Flint Firebirds
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club