PREVIEW: Firebirds Face Sting in Sarnia for Sunday Matinee
SARNIA, Ont. — The Firebirds hit the ice on Sunday afternoon in Sarnia looking to rebound from a tough, 4-2 loss at home against the Owen Sound attack on Saturday night. The Sting are riding a four-game losing streak while Flint has points in seven of its last ten. Puck drop is set for 2:05 p.m. Sunday at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
LAST TIME OUT: Coulson Pitre and Simon Slavicek both struck for goals in the opening period to lift the Birds to an early lead over the Attack. Pitre now has eight points (6 G, 2 A) across his last three games, and Slavicek extended his active point streak to nine games (5 G, 8 A). Owen Sound went on to score four unanswered however, ultimately skating away with a 4-2 win at the Dort Financial Center Saturday.
SERIES HISTORY: The Birds and the Bees have met once this season, on October 14 in Sarnia, a game that gave the Firebirds their first two points of the season. That night ended in a decisive 6-4 triumph as Jacob Brown turned aside 22 of 26 shots to earn his first OHL victory in his very first start in goal. Zacharie Giroux was named the game’s first star for his efforts, which included a goal and an assist. Nolan Dann also had a two-point night (1 G, 1 A), earning third star honors. Flint’s all-time mark versus the Sting stands at 32-23-2-0 but is much closer at Progressive Auto Sales Arena where they’ve gone 14-14-1-0.
SCOUTING THE STING: (9-12-0-0, 4th West Division) –
Florida Panthers prospect Sandis Vilmanis is pacing the Sting with 20 points (6 G, 14 A) on the season. Sophomore winger Tyson Doucette is one just point back and sits tied for the team lead with 11 goals. Defenseman Jacob LeBlanc also has 19 points, including three tallies and a team-leading 16 helpers.
Backstopping the Sting in goal are veteran Nick Surzycia and rookie Karsen Chartier. Surzycia has six wins in 17 appearances and carries a 3.49 goals-against average and a save percentage of .882. Chartier’s won two games in five appearances and has a 3.56 GAA plus a SV% of .880.
Sarnia’s power play ranks one spot ahead of Flint’s, now 17th in the league with a 14.0% rate of success. Their penalty kill is shutting down the opposition at a 79.4% clip, good for 13th.
SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: (9-9-1-1, 3rd West Division) –
Braeden Kressler leads the trio of forwards pacing ahead of a point-per-game average for Flint. He’s lit the lamp ten times plus added 13 helpers for 23 points through 17 games. Team captain Zacharie Giroux ranks second on the squad with 21 points (8 G, 13 A) through 20 games played. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Gavin Hayes sits third with 20 points (12 G, 8 A) in 18 contests.
Between the pipes, Edmonton Oilers prospect Nathan Day has seven wins through 16 appearances. His goals-against average continues to improve and is now 4.12 while his save percentage sits at .862. Rookie Jacob Brown has two wins in six appearances and his GAA sits at 4.32 with an .855 SV%.
The Birds rank 18th on the power play with a 13.6% success rate. The penalty kill ranks inside the league’s top ten at 80.6%, currently ninth-best.
BROADCAST COVERAGE: This afternoon’s game against the Sarnia Sting 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 1:45 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 has a couple of days off before their in-state rivals head south from Saginaw on Wednesday. The Birds look to even the eight-game I-75 Divide Series where the Spirit currently hold a two-games-to-one advantage. It’ll also be Coats for Kids Night, sponsored by ABC12. Fans can receive a FREE ticket to the game with the donation of any new/unused coat to benefit the Salvation Army.
Story: Brandon Mills // flintfirebirds.com