Saginaw, Mich. – The Firebirds travel 40 miles north for a rematch with their in-state rival, Saginaw Spirit Saturday night. Puck drop for game seven of the I-75 Divide Cup, sponsored by Coors Light, is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw.
There are 10 players with NHL ties between both Flint and Saginaw’s current rosters Saturday 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.
Saturday marks the third of four meetings in Saginaw this season and the seventh of eight total match-ups during the 2018-19 regular season. All-time, Flint is 11-17-0-2 against Saginaw. In away games, the Firebirds are 4-10-0-0 versus the Spirit. The two clubs played in Flint Friday, with Saginaw skating to a 4 – 2 decision.
Jack Wismer led the Firebirds on the scoresheet, lighting the lamp once and adding a helper en-route to earning ‘Second-Star’ honors. Ethan Keppen found the back of the net. Luke Cavallin faced 23 shots in the final 40 minutes and made 22 saves. For the Spirit, Camaryn Baber collected two points and netminder Ivan Prosvetov (Arizona Coyotes) stopped 33 of Flint’s 35 shots-on-goal.
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 six contests this season, thus tying the Cup series at two wins each.
On special teams, the Spirit rank seventh in the OHL on the power play, scoring 24.7% of the time. The Firebirds are 20th converting at a 14.2% clip with the man-advantage. Saginaw ranks fourth on the penalty-kill, shutting down the opposition 80.8% of the time. The Firebirds are killing penalties at a rate of 69.5%, which is 19th-best in the OHL.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (9-39-3-0, 5th West Division):
Firebirds’ captain Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) leads Flint in assists (34) and points (51) in 45 games. Alternate captain Jake Durham leads Flint in goals (31) and is second on the Firebirds’ roster with 49 points in 51 games. Ethan Keppen ranks third with 38 points (18G, 20A) through 51 contests. Keppen has earned points in 11 of his last 13 games-played, including a goal last night.
On the blue line, Vladislav Kolyachonok leads all first-year players and defenseman with 25 points (3G, 22A) in 37 games. Second-year defenseman Riley McCourt has played in 33 games this season, and tops the defensive troops in goals-scored with five. He has 23 total points for the campaign.
In net, overage goaltender Emanuel Vella holds a 4.92 goals-against average (GAA) and a .874 save percentage (SAV%) across 31 appearances. Second-year goaltender Luke Cavallin has a 5.26 GAA and a .863 SAV% after appearing in 27 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 (31-14-2-2, 2nd West Division):
Cole Coskey leads the Spirit with 58 points (27G, 31A) in 45 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 38 assists through 43 contests. Recently acquired from the Mississauga Steelheads, Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers) now sits third on the squad with 48 points (16G, 32A) in 44 games. Also acquired from Mississauga, Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers) has 43 points (22G, 21A) in 35 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 21 goals and 22 assists, averaging just under a point-per-game through 44 contests. He scored his 21st goal last night in Flint.
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 38 appearances with the Spirit this season, he has the eighth-best GAA at 3.10 and a SAV% at .901. His 25 wins have him tied for the fourth-most in the OHL, and his three shutouts are tied for second-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.
Saturday 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 7 p.m.
The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak in high definition on channel 448 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.
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.
Photo Credit: Ben Hoffman / Saginaw Spirit
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club