Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds are back in action Saturday night to host the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center (capacity 4,400) in Flint.
The Firebirds are off to their best start in franchise history, posting a 11-5-0-0 record thus far which has them in first place in both the West Division and the Western Conference. The Firebirds also hold of the league’s best home records, going 7-1-0-0 on home ice.
Friday night marks the third of six regular-season meetings between these clubs this campaign, and the second of three times they’ll meet in Flint. All-time, Flint is 7-18-1-0 against the Greyhounds and is 4-8-1-0 at home vs. the Soo. Last season, the ‘Birds finished with a record of 2-4-0-0 against the ‘Hounds, and were 2-1-0-0 at the Dort Federal Event Center in the series.
Sault Ste. Marie enters Saturday’s tilt with a season record of 6-11-1-0. The Greyhounds are 2-6-0-0 in road games. On Friday night, Flint defeated the Mississauga Steelheads 5 – 3 at home. The Soo dropped a 7 – 4 decision to the Sting in Sarnia.
The last time these teams met was October 26 in Flint. A pair of Jacks led the offensive charge, as the Firebirds defeated the ‘Hounds 4 – 1. Jack Phibbs scored twice and Jack Wismer recorded one goal and two assists in the victory. Luke Cavallin earned the win between the pipes, making 30 saves on 31 shots. Jaden Peca scored the lone goal for the Soo.
On special teams this season, the Firebirds are converting on the power play at a rate of 14.5%. The Greyhounds rank 11th in the OHL, scoring at a 22.7% clip. Sault Ste. Marie is killing penalties at a rate of 70.5%, which is 18th-best in the OHL. Flint’s penalty-killers rank 15th at a 73.7% efficiency.
Players to Watch:
Flint Firebirds (11-5-0-0, 1st West Division, 1st Western Conference):
Evgeniy Oksentyuk continues to lead the way for Flint with eight goals and 11 assists for 19 points through 16 contests. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) is on a four-game point-streak, has points in 12 of 14 games this season, racking up seven goals and 11 helpers for 18 total points. Defenseman Riley McCourt is averaging a point per game with six goals and ten assists in 16 games-played, ranking the rearguard third on Flint’s scoresheet. His six goals are tied for third-most, and his 16 total points are tied for seventh-most among all defensemen.
Jake Durham is tied for the team-lead in goals with eight, plus has six assists for 14 total points. Friday night, Durham became 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 208 straight.
Defenseman Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) is tied for the OHL’s fourth-best plus/minus rating among defenders at a +12. He also ranks third on the blue line for Flint 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 four wins in seven appearances, and he carries a 3.93 GAA with a .891 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.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (6-11-1-0, 5th West Division, 10th Western Conference):
Rory Kerins leads the club in goals-scored with ten, and in total points with 21. Jaromir Pytlik leads the ‘Hounds in helpers with a team-high 13 assists and has 20 total points through 18 games. Cole MacKay sits third with a balanced nine goals and 10 assists in 18 games.
First-year forward Tanner Dickinson leads the Soo’s freshman class with 13 total points (1G, 12A). Ryan O’Rourke tops the blue-line unit with 13 points (5G, 8A), and Billy Constantinou is second with 11 points (4G, 7A).
Christian Propp has appeared in 13 games for the Soo this season, earning four wins and accumulating a 4.95 goals-against average (GAA) and a save-percentage (SAV%) of .847. Ethan Taylor has made nine appearances and has a GAA of 3.70 along with a .857 SAV%. Taylor has two victories this season.
NHL: The Greyhounds have two players with NHL ties, Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) and defenseman Jacob LeGuerrier (Montreal Canadiens). Hayton remains on the Coyotes’ roster and hasn’t played a game with the ‘Hounds yet this year. Additionally, Ryan O’Rourke, Jaromir Pytlik, Tanner Dickinson, Rory Kerins and Cole MacKay were listed on the 2019 NHL Central Scouting October ‘Players to Watch’ list for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.
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.
Saturday evening’s contest against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 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 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.
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