PREVIEW: Firebirds Back in Action on Friday in London
LONDON, Ont. – The Firebirds take the ice in London on Friday night for the first of three games in three days over the weekend. Coming off a rare stretch of six consecutive days off following a stretch of three games in four days, Flint matches up with the Knights for the first time this season. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Budweiser Gardens.
LAST TIME OUT: Flint last played in Erie on Saturday night. The Otters held the lead for the majority of the contest but Gavin Hayes fixed that and netted a goal that tied the tilt at three late in the third period, eventually forcing overtime. In the extra frame, Zacharie Giroux set up Coulson Pitre for the game-winning tally with just 23 seconds remaining in OT. Rookie netminder Jacob Brown posted 31 saves on 34 shots for his second OHL victory in just his third start in goal.
SERIES HISTORY: The Firebirds hold a record of 8-17-1-2 versus the Knights and the count on the road in the series stands at 4-9-0-1. Last season the teams split the season series even with two wins per side. Friday marks the first of four contests between the clubs this year and the first of two to be played at the Budweiser Gardens.
SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS: (13-5-0-1, 2nd Midwest Division) –
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Denver Barkey tops the scoresheet for London, now with 13 goals and 15 assists through 19 games. His 28 total points are fourth-most in the league. Easton Cowan, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, sits one point back with 27 (8 G, 19 A) in just 14 games. His 1.93 points per game average is second-highest in the OHL and he’s tied for the third-most helpers. Barkey (6 G, 7 A) and Cowan (4 G, 14 A) both enter tonight’s contest on eight-game point streaks. San Jose Sharks prospect Kasper Holttunen is third with 14 tallies and six assists for 20 points. Holttunen’s 14 goals are tied for third and his eight power-play markers are good for second in the league.
In goal, Michael Simpson has nine wins in 14 appearances including one shutout. He carries a goals-against average of 2.54, which is fourth-best. His save percentage sits at .911. Owen Willmore has four wins across six appearances and sports a 2.80 GAA with a .915 SV%.
The Knights have the league’s sixth-best power play, scoring on 24.3% of their opportunities. When shorthanded they’re killing penalties at an 82.9% clip which ranks fifth.
SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: (8-8-1-1, 3rd West Division) –
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and overager Braeden Kressler remains atop the leaderboard for Flint. He’s scored nine times and assisted on another 11 markers for 20 points in 15 games. Giroux sits second with 20 points (8 G, 12 A) through 18 games played. Hayes, a Chicago Blackhawks prospect, is third with 18 points (11 G, 7 A) in 16 contests. His +14 plus/minus rating is tied for seventh-highest in the OHL.
Between the pipes, Edmonton Oilers prospect Nathan Day has six wins through 15 appearances. His goals-against average now stands at 4.13 and he carries a save percentage of .862. Rookie Jacob Brown has two wins in five appearances and his GAA sits at 4.37 with an .852 SV%.
The Firebirds power play ranks 19th in the OHL, scoring on 10.7% of their chances. The penalty kill has improved to 11th at 79.7%.
BROADCAST COVERAGE: This evening’s game against the London Knights 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. Brian Gardner will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Network starting with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.
All of the Flint Firebirds home and away games throughout the 2023-24 season can be watched anywhere in the world online at https://watch.chl.ca/ohl.
COMING UP: Flint returns to home ice on Saturday when the Owen Sound Attack comes to town for the first time this season. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Dort Financial Center, and tickets are available online from ETIX.com.
Story: Brandon Mills // flintfirebirds.com