PREVIEW: Firebirds Head to Ottawa on Saturday Afternoon
OTTAWA, Ont. — The Firebirds kicked off a three-game East Division road swing on Thursday with a 4-1 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Petes in Peterborough. Now the focus shifts to the second-place 67’s in a rare Saturday matinee game. Puck drop is set for 3:00 p.m. at Ottawa’s TD Place.
LAST TIME OUT: Zacharie Giroux scored twice and three other Firebirds recorded two points in a 4-1 road win for the Firebirds over the Petes on Thursday night in Peterborough. Flint controlled the game from the get go and took its first lead just 67 seconds in. Nathan Day had another stellar outing in net with 29 saves on 30 shots. It was the first game against an Eastern Conference opponent this season for the Birds as they defeated the reigning OHL champions.
SERIES HISTORY: Flint holds an all-time record of 4-5-2-1 against the 67’s and a 1-3-1-1 mark in road games. Last year the Birds earned one point across two games which came on the road at TD Place.
SCOUTING THE 67’s: (14-8-1-0, 2nd East Division) –
Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Luca Pinelli is tied for the third-most goals (18) and power-play tallies (7) in the OHL. His 26 total points are the most on the Ottawa roster. Cooper Foster, a Pittsburgh Penguins prospect, ranks second on the club with nine goals and 12 assists. Tied for third are center Brad Gardiner (6 G, 12 A) and Ottawa native defenseman Henry Mews (3 G, 15 A) with 18 points apiece.
Max Donoso has appeared in 14 games this season, earning seven victories including one shutout. His goals against average stands at 3.03 and his save percentage is an even .900. Collin MacKenzie has the second-lowest GAA in the league and 2.43 and the highest SV% of .925. He’s credited with seven wins in 11 appearances.
Ottawa has the 11th-best power play and penalty kill for the season. With the man advantage, they’re clicking at 20.5% and the penalty kill is successful 79.6% of the time.
SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: (12-11-1-1, 3rd West Division) –
Chicago Blackhawks prospect Hayes and team captain Giroux continue to battle for the lead in points for Flint. Hayes is tied for the third-most game-willing goals (4), sixth-most power-play goals (6), and the seventh-most overall goals (17). He and Giroux each have 29 points for the season and are on five-game point streaks entering Saturday’s contest. Giroux has 12 tallies and 17 helpers. Braeden Kressler, the Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, sits two points back with 11 goals and 16 assists.
Nathan Day has been rock solid between the pipes for the Firebirds this season and has ten wins across 21 appearances. His goals-against average is now 3.75 and his save-percentage sits at .871. Backup Jacob Brown is credited with two wins in six appearances and his GAA sits at 4.32 with an .855 SV%.
The Birds rank 16th on the power play with a 13.9% success rate. The penalty kill is clicking at an 81.4% pace, which is the OHL’s ninth-best.
ODDS AND ENDS: Saturday’s contest is just the second game Flint will play versus an opponent in the East Division this season. Last year the Birds went 6-2-1-1 versus the East… Ottawa’s home record is 8-5-0-0 while Flint’s road-game mark is 9-5-0-0… The 67’s have scored 76 goals this season (15th) compared to the Firebirds’ 94 (T-4th)… Hayes had two assists in Peterborough Thursday and is now tied with Amadeus Lombardi for second on the all-time scoring list for the franchise with 161 points… Giroux surpassed the 50-goal mark for his OHL career in Thursday’s game.
BROADCAST COVERAGE: This afternoon’s game against the Ottawa 67’s 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 2:45 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: The Birds conclude their three-game road trip with a final stop in Kingston on Sunday. Flint will then return home on Saturday, December 9 to host the Saginaw Spirit for another installment of the I-75 Divide Cup, presented by Coors Light. Saginaw holds a 3-1 advantage in the eight-game series. Tickets for the December 9 rivalry tilt are available now from ETIX.COM here.
Story: Brandon Mills // flintfirebirds.com