Battle for Wayne Gretzky Trophy begins Saturday as Firebirds visit Spitfires for Game 1 – Flint Firebirds

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Windsor, Ont. – The Firebirds record campaign continues. They will face a familiar foe in the third round beginning Saturday, as the Windsor Spitfires reached the conference final for the first time since 2011. Games 1 and 2 will be played at Windsor. The Game 1 puck drop is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (ET) Saturday at the WFCU Center.

Flint entered the 2022 playoffs ranked third in the Western Conference and second in the Western Division with a regular season record of 42-21-1-4. The Spitfires had a huge surge in the last 15 games, winning 13 in a row and collecting points in 14 of 15. They ended up winning both the Western Division and the Western Conference. Windsor finished the regular season with a 44-17-4-3 record. On the road this year, Flint posted an OHL-best record of 24-7-1-2. The Spits’ last home record was 25-7-1-1, which was second-best in the league. All-time, the Firebirds have a regular season record of 13-22-1-1 against Windsor with a road record of 4-13-1-1.

During the 2021-22 regular season, these clubs have faced each other a total of eight times. Windsor has won seven of eight. Flint’s only win on the show was back on February 19 at the WFCU Center in a shootout. Overall, the Spitfires outscored the Firebirds 46-25. In two rounds of the playoffs, the Birds defeated the Owen Sound Attack in seven games, followed by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in five. Windsor beat the Sarnia Sting in six games in Round 1, then eliminated the Kitchener Rangers in five games.

In the eight-game regular-season series, Wyatt Johnston had the most points for each side with 18 points (6 G, 12 A). Tied for second for Windsor are Matthew Maggio (7G, 7A) and Will Cuylle (7G, 7A) with 14 points each. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) topped Flint’s stats with seven goals and five assists. Tag Bertuzzi and Sahil Panwar tied for second with six points each. Bertuzzi scored four times and assisted on two goals and Panwar assisted on six.

On special teams, the Firebirds finished the 68-game campaign with the best penalty kill (PK) in the OHL, winning 84.2% of the time. In playoff games so far, they rank fifth with an efficiency of 83.3%. The Spits ranked second on the PK at 82.6% during the regular campaign and are now seventh with a kill rate of 78.0% in the playoffs. Flint placed 12th in the regular season with the men’s advantage, scoring on 19.7% of his chances. Windsor scored 26.1% of the time on the power play, ranking third. Now, after two playoff rounds, the Birds sit ninth at 20.0% and Windsor sits 12th at 13.3%.

Players to watch

Flint Firebirds (42-21-1-4, 3rd Western Conference):

In 12 playoff games so far, Flint is led by Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points. Othmann led his troops with 50 goals and 97 total points in the regular season. He is currently ranked fifth in goals and total points and tied for eighth in assists. Amadeus Lombardi is tied for second in the playoffs with four goals and six assists. Lombardi also finished second in the regular season, with 59 points (18 G, 41 A) in 67 games. Gavin Hayes is tied with Lombardi with 10 points, also coming on four goals and six assists. Hayes is a native of Westland, Michigan and finished the regular season with new assists (30) and points (49) records by a rookie in Flint franchise history. Of all the rookies in the playoffs so far, Hayes ranks second in points, is tied for second in assists and is tied for fourth in goals scored.

Coulson Pitre led the team’s freshman class in goals (23) this season and had 44 total points in 52 games. He is the club’s all-time leading rookie goal scorer and he ranks second in the OHL in rookie goal scoring currently with six. He is also tied for fourth in total points with eight. Defenders Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) lead the guard with eight playoff points, all of which are assists. Fellow countryman Tyler Deline has a goal and five assists to rank second in the club.

Luke Cavallin started this playoffs with the seventh-best goals-against-average (GAA) in the league at 3.16 and the third-best save percentage (SV%) in the league at 0.910 in 56 appearances. He had the most wins in the league and the most in Flint history, finishing at 36 wins during the campaign. Cavallin now has eight wins in 12 playoff games. He holds the fourth best GAA of 2.40 GAA and the best SV% in the OHL in the playoffs of 0.934. Behind Cavallin are two rookie goalies. Ian Michelone appeared in ten regular season games and had four wins. It carries a GAA of 4.37 and an SV% of 0.884. Michelone was one of only two goaltenders in the league to have a shutout this season. Nathaniel Day has two wins in eight regular season appearances, with a GAA of 3.63 and an SV% of 0.883.

NHL: The Firebirds have four players on their roster with NHL ties consisting of Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs), Dmitry Kuzmin (Winnipeg Jets) and Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers). Additionally, Gavin Hayes and Amadeus Lombardi were named to the final standings in the 2022 NHL Central Scouting Draft.

Although Flint has only played five seasons in the OHL so far, Alex Nedeljkovic (Carolina Hurricanes/Detroit Red Wings), Kole Sherwood (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Arizona Coyotes) are four former Firebirds to play regular season games in the NHL. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) and Firebirds alumnus Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Vili Saarijarvi (Detroit Red Wings) and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) all played in NHL preseason competition. In total, the team has produced 22 players signed or drafted into the NHL.

Windsor Spitfires (44-17-4-3, 1st Western Conference):

The Spitfires are led by Wyatt Johnston (Dallas Stars), who was recently named OHL Player of the Week. He also received the William Hanley Trophy, awarded each season as the OHL’s Most Athletic Player, and the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy for scoring the most points in the regular season (124). In 11 playoff games this year, he has scored eight times and assisted on 23 goals for a total of 23 points. He ranks first in the playoffs in assists and points, is tied for first in +16 rating and is tied for fifth in goals. He led the OHL in points in the regular season with New York Rangers prospect Will Cuylle second in the club with 14 points (6 G, 8 A), and he’s also tied for first in the league. with +/- odds of +16. Third-year winger Alex Christopoulos and defenseman Andrew Perrott are tied for third with eight playoff points apiece. Christopoulos has six goals and two assists while Perrot has five goals and three assists.

Rookie Ryan Abraham, a native of Livonia, Mich., is the team’s top-scoring rookie with seven total points (1G, 6A). Louka Henault is second on the blue line with three goals and three assists.

Goalkeeper Mathias Onuska started his season with the London Knights before joining the Spitfires. He appeared in 26 regular season games for Spits, earning 19 wins with a 3.34 goals-against-average (GAA) and 0.882 save percentage (SV%). He has played in all 11 of the club’s playoff games to date, winning eight while posting the league’s third-best playoff GAA of 2.26 and an SV% of 0.910. Xavier Medina, a native of Detroit, Michigan, played 30 regular season games for Windsor this season, earning 18 wins for the team. It posted a 3.05 GAA and a .891 SV%.

NHL: Windsor’s roster includes four tied NHL players: Will Cuylle (New York Rangers), Wyatt Johnston (Dallas Stars), Pasquale Zito (Detroit Red Wings) and Daniil Sobolev (Montreal Canadiens) . Additionally, Matthew Maggio was named to the final standings of the NHL Central Scouting Draft for 2022.

Notable Windsor alumni who will 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, Eric Wellwood, Todd Warriner, Steve Downie, Jamie Allison and Ryan Ellis.

Broadcast coverage:

Saturday’s fight against the Windsor Spitfires can be heard live on radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM, online at www.us103.com or by downloading the US 103 app here. Jack Sznewajs will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network (FHN). Pre-game coverage will begin before the puck drop at 6:45 p.m. (ET) Saturday night.

The game will also be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 466 (4466 HD) for Rogers TV and Cogeco TV cable subscribers. OHL fans with cable TV in Ontario can add the OHL Action Pak to their TV plan to see the Firebirds in action, home or away, all season long.

Additionally, all Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2021-22 regular season can be watched anywhere in the world online at https://watch.chl.ca/ohl. CHL TV is the league’s new and improved video streaming platform that provides high-quality live and on-demand coverage of all regular season and playoff games every year. The cost is

$6.99 for 24-hour access or $59.99 to watch all 2022 OHL playoffs.

Next Up: Game 2 of the series will be played Monday night at 7:05 p.m. ET at the WFCU Center. Be sure to catch all the play-by-play action with Jack Sznewajs on US 103.1 FM. Game 3 is scheduled for Wednesday, May 25 at Dort Financial Center in Flint. The Game 3 puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (ET) and tickets are on sale now through ETIX HERE, in person at the Dort Financial Center box office or by calling (810) 744-0580.

Narrative: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com

For more information contact:

Jack Sznewajs
Broadcasting and Communications Director
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
jack@flintfirebirds.com
(810) 742-2004 ext. 223

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