Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – The Firebirds look to extend their franchise-best 12-game road winning-streak Wednesday night in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. Puck drop versus the Greyhounds is set for 7:07 p.m. at GFL Memorial Gardens (cap. 4,928).
Wednesday marks the sixth and final regular-season meeting between these clubs this campaign, and the third of three in Sault Ste. Marie. Flint holds a 4-1-0-0 record against the Greyhounds this season and are 1-1-0-0 in the Soo. Flint’s record in away games this season stands at 20-9-1-0 compared to Sault Ste Marie’s home-ice record of 13-15-3-0. In their last ten games the Firebirds have gone 7-3-0-0 and the Soo is 4-4-1-1 in that span.
The Firebirds enter Wednesday’s contest in second place in the West Division and fourth in the Western Conference with a record of 40-20-1-1. The Greyhounds are currently fourth in the West Division and ninth in the Western Conference with a record of 28-31-3-1.
The last time these teams met was January 22 in Sault Ste. Marie, when the Birds earned a 7 – 4 victory over the Hounds. Joe Carroll potted a hat-trick for the Greyhounds, but five Firebirds had multiple points in the contest. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Riley Piercey each had two goals and two assists, Jake Durham and Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) each scored once and added a helper for a two-point night, and Owen Lalonde had two assists. Jack Phibbs scored on a penalty shot and Anthony Popovich stood tall between the pipes, making 28 saves on 32 Soo shots.
All-time, Flint is 12-16-1-0 against the Greyhounds and 6-8-0-0 on the road vs. the Soo. Last season, the ‘Birds finished with a record of 2-4-0-0 against the ‘Hounds, but were winless in away games.
On special teams this season Flint’s penalty-kill is fifth in the league, finding success at a rate of 81.4%. Sault Ste. Marie’s penalty-killers are ranked 18th at 75.3%. With the man-advantage, the Greyhounds rank sixth in the league, converting at a rate of 23.8%, and the Firebirds are 14th scoring at a 20.3% clip.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (40-20-1-1, 2nd West Division):
Belarusian forward Evgeniy Oksentyuk tops the club in goals (33), assists (45) and total points (78) through 57 contests. In his last 15 games, Oksentyuk has 9 multi-point performances and totals 11 goals and 15 assists.
Defenseman Riley McCourt is Flint’s all-time scoring leader among rearguards. For this season, McCourt is third in total offense with 18 goals and 44 assists for 62 total points in 62 games. His total points are fifth-most among OHL rearguards, his 18 tallies are tied for fifth, and his 44 helpers are fourth. McCourt also has the seventh-highest points-per-game average among blue-liners at exactly 1.00 point-per-game. Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) is second among the blue-liners and fourth in total offense with 55 total points (17G, 38A) through 54 contests. He ranks eighth in the league in total points by a defenseman, he’s tied for seventh in goals-scored and he’s tied for ninth with 38 helpers. Tucker is just ahead of McCourt with a 1.02 points-per-game average, ranking sixth.
Brennan Othmann leads the freshman class for the ‘Birds with 33 points (17G, 16A) through 54 games. His point-total is tied for tenth among rookies in the league and his 17 goals are sixth-most.
In net, Anthony Popovich has played in 46 games this season. He’s earned 29 victories, which are fifth-most in OHL. Popovich’s goals-against average (GAA) is 3.64 and he has the ninth-best save-percentage (SAV%) in the league at .897. Luke Cavallin has 11 wins in 20 appearances and carries a 3.68 GAA along with a .895 SAV%.
NHL: The Firebirds have five players with NHL ties consisting of Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) and Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues). Additionally, Evgeniy Oksentyuk was named to the NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.
Despite Flint being in the midst of just their fifth OHL season, three former Firebirds have already played in NHL regular-season games: Nick Caamano (Dallas Stars), Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes) and Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets). Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vili Saarijarvi (Arizona Coyotes) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) have played in NHL pre-season contests. In total, the team has produced an impressive 18 drafted or signed NHL players in that short time.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (28-31-3-1, 4th West Division):
Zack Trott leads the ‘Hounds with 25 goals and 21 assists for 66 points in 61 contests. He enters Wednesday’s tilt on a three-game point-streak (4G, 2A). Rory Kerins is second with 58 total points (30G, 28A) in 63 games. Kerins is also on a three-game point-streak (1G, 2A). Tye Kartye ranks third for the Hounds with 24 tallies and 28 helpers through 63 contests.
Billy Constantinou leads the blue-line corps with 52 points (9G, 43A) in 59 games-played. Among defenders, Constantinou ranks tenth in points-total and fifth in assists.
First-year forward Tanner Dickinson leads the Hounds’ freshman class with 40 total points, which are fifth-most among the league’s rookies. His 31 assists have him tied for the most in the league in the same category. Dickinson is also on a three-game point-streak, with two goals and two assists in that span.
For the season, Bailey Brkin has appeared in 31 games this season. He’s earned 17 wins, and carries a 3.37 GAA with a .885 SAV%. Nick Malik has made 15 appearances and has a GAA of 3.97 along with a .880 SAV%. Malik has four victories this season.
NHL: The Greyhounds have just one player with NHL ties, defenseman Jacob LeGuerrier (Montreal Canadiens). However, they lead the OHL with seven players listed on the NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft. Those who made the list are, Ryan O’Rourke, Jaromir Pytlik, Tanner Dickinson, Rory Kerins, Robert Calisti, Tye Karytye and netminder Nick Malik.
25 notable Greyhounds’ alumni to play in the NHL are Wayne Gretzky, Jeff Beukeboom, Bob Boughner, Jeff Carter, Dan Clouthier, Paul Coffey, Trevor Daley, Ray Emery, Adam Foote, Ron Francis, Craig Hartsburg, Ric Jackman, Dustin Jeffrey, Tyler Kennedy, Denny Lambert, Greg Millen, Ted Nolan, Nathan Perrott, Bob Probert, Wayne Simmons, Brad Staubitz, Steve Sullivan, Joe Thornton, Rick Tocchet, John Vanbiesbrouk, and Josef Vasick.
Wednesday evening’s contest 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. Firebirds’ broadcaster Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action and Thomas Parisi will provide color commentary on the Firebirds Hockey Radio Network. Radio pregame coverage begins 37 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.
The game is one of three games this season that will not have television coverage.
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 & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club