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Preview: Firebirds & Spitfires face-off in Windsor Thursday

Flint Firebirds at Windsor Spitfires
Date | Time Thursday, Jan. 30 | 7:05 p.m.
Location Windsor, Ont. | WFCU Centre (capacity 6,450)
Tickets Online | (519) 254-5000
TV – Cogeco TV channel 11 / 700 HD Live (Windsor)
– OHL Action Pak: Rogers TV 469 & Cogeco TV 469 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 Friday: Firebirds Trading Cards Giveaway (Promotions)
Social Media @FlintFirebirds   | Facebook  | Instagram 

Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds begin a three-in-three weekend when the club faces-off against the Spitfires in Windsor Thursday evening. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET) at the WFCU Centre (cap. 6,450).

Flint enters Friday’s contest having won their last four contests and earning points in six of their last seven games. The Firebirds have picked up 11 of a possible 14 points in that time and have won three-straight road games.

Thursday marks the fifth of six meetings between the two clubs and the third of three in Windsor this season. The Firebirds are 1-3-0-0 versus the Spitfires this campaign and are 0-2-0-0 in Windsor. All-time, Flint holds a record of 10-17-1-0 versus the Spitfires and a record of 3-10-1-0 at the WFCU Centre.

Most recently, the Firebirds posted a 4-3 overtime victory over Windsor on home ice in Flint. Luke Cavallin played an impressive game between the pipes, making 37 saves on 40 shots for his first victory of 2020. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) had a goal and an assist, including the overtime game-winning tally. Evgeniy Oksentyuk, Cody Morgan and Jake Durham also found paydirt in the contest.

The Firebirds enter Thursday’s contest in third place in the West Division and fifth in the 10-team Western Conference with a record of 26-17-1-1. The Spits are currently second in the West Division and fourth in the Western Conference with a 28-10-5-0 record. In their past 10 games, Flint has gone 6-2-1-1 and the Spitfires are 7-2-1-0.

Of note, four Firebirds have ties to the City of Windsor. Head Coach Eric Wellwood played four seasons with the Spitfires from 2006-10 and won two Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Memorial Cup Championships in 2009 & 2010 with the Spitfires. Additionally, Assistant Coach Mark Ridout played for Windsor for three seasons from 1998-01, forward Cody Morgan suited up for the Spitfires from 2018-19 and defenseman Owen Lalonde is a native of Windsor.

On special teams this season Flint’s penalty-kill ranks fourth in the league, finding success at a rate of 81.9%. The ‘Birds have the league’s number-one penalty-kill on home ice, shutting the opposition down 88.9% of the time. Windsor’s penalty-killers are ranked 14th at 77.0%. With the man-advantage, the ‘Spits rank second in the league, converting at a rate of 26.5% and the Firebirds are 19th, scoring at a 17.4% clip.

 

Players to Watch:

Flint Firebirds (26-17-1-1, 3rd West Division):
Ty Dellandrea
(Dallas Stars) tops the stat sheet for Flint with 26 goals and 31 helpers in 35 games. In the past four games, Dellandrea has recorded 15 points (8G, 7A) and enters Thursday’s game on a four-game point streak. Belarusian forward Evgeniy Oksentyuk sits second on the club with 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points in 40 contests. Earlier this season Oksentyuk carried Flint’s longest-ever point-streak at 17 games (13G, 16A), which still sits tied for the fourth-longest point-streak by any OHL player this season. Recently-acquired forward Riley Piercey is heating up since joining the Firebirds. He earned 13 points in 35 games with the Barrie Colts to start the season. He now has 13 points (6G, 7A) in only nine games with the Firebirds. He rides a four-game point-streak (4G, 6A) into Thursday’s tilt in Windsor.

Defenseman Riley McCourt holds the franchise record for most goals scored by a defenseman in a Firebirds’ uniform with 23 tallies in the orange and navy blue. He recently hit 100 career OHL points and on Saturday scored his 91st point with the Firebirds, making him the new all-leader in points among Flint defenders too. For the season, McCourt ranks third in total offense with 13 goals and a team-high 34 assists for 47 total points in 45 games. His total points are fifth-most among OHL rearguards, his 13 tallies are tied for sixth, and his 34 helpers are tied for fourth. McCourt also has the fifth-highest points-per-game average among blue-liners at 1.04.

In net, Anthony Popovich has played in 32 games this season. He’s earned 18 victories, which are tied for sixth-most in OHL. Popovich’s goals-against average (GAA) is 3.74 and he’s tied with teammate Luke Cavallin for the ninth-best save-percentage (SAV%) in the league at .897. Cavallin has eight wins in 17 appearances and carries a 3.69 GAA.

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.

Windsor Spitfires (28-10-5-0, 2nd West Division):
Fourth-year forward Tyler Angle (Columbus Blue Jackets) leads the Spitfires in goals and is tied for most total points. He has 21 goals and 25 helpers through 43 games-played. Egor Afanasyev (Nashville Predators) also has 46 points (19G, 27A) in 43 games. Curtis Douglas ranks third with 19 goals and 20 assists in 43 games.

Defenseman Connor Corcoran (Vegas Golden Knights) ranks fourth on the club and leads the blue-line unit with 14 tallies and 25 helpers in 43 games. He’s tied for fourth among rearguards in goals-scored, eighth in points and ninth in points-per-game at .91.

First-year defenseman Ruben Rafkin has two goals and 21 assists to top the Spit’s rookie class with 23 points through 41 contests. His 21 helpers are the most among all first-year players in the league and he’s tied for eighth in total points.

Between the pipes, Kari Piiroinen has made 22 appearances and earned a 3.54 goals-against average (GAA) and a .878 save-percentage (SAV%). Rookie netminder Xavier Medina has appeared in 23 contests, earning a 3.40 GAA and a .885 SAV%. Both Windsor netminders have 14 wins this season.

NHL: Windsor’s roster features four players with NHL ties, consisting of defenseman Connor Corcoran (Vegas Golden Knights) and forwards Tyler Angle (Columbus Blue Jackets), Egor Asanasyev (Nashville Predators) and Curtis Douglas (Dallas Stars). Additionally, Will Cuylle, Jean-Luc Foudy, Louka Henault, Kyle McDonald, Ruben Rafkin and Dylan Robinson were listed on the NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Rankings for the upcoming 2020 NHL Draft.

Notable Windsor alumni to play in the NHL include Ed Jovanovski, Matt Cooke, Cory Stillman, Jason Spezza, Steve Ott, Jason York, Josh Bailey, Tim Gleason, Mike Rupp, Cam Fowler, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Wellwood, Todd Warriner, Steve Downie, Jamie Allison, Ryan Ellis and current Firebirds’ head coach Eric Wellwood and assistant coach Mark Ridout.

 

Broadcast Coverage:
Thursday 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. Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action and Jack Sznewajs will provide color commentary on the Firebirds Hockey Radio Network. Pregame coverage will begin 35 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday’s game will also be televised live in Windsor on YourTV channel 11 / 700 (HD) for Cogeco TV cable subscribers. Additionally, the game will be televised live throughout the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 469 for both Cogeco TV and Rogers 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 Thursday’s game, 65 of the Firebirds’ 68 games throughout the 2019-20 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 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, $179.99 for all 68 home and away Firebirds games and $279.99 for all 1,360 OHL games throughout the 2019-20 season.

 

For more information:

Dominic Hennig
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
dominic@flintfirebirds.com
(810) 519-9347

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