PREVIEW: Firebirds Make Lone Trip to Brantford on Saturday Afternoon
BRANTFORD, Ont. — The Firebirds remain just one point outside the cutoff for the Western Conference playoff seedings after a 7-2 win in Oshawa on Friday night. They now arrive in Brantford for their first game of the season against the Bulldogs, who sit in second in the Eastern Conference. Flint looks to ride the momentum from its Friday night victory into another two points against the Bulldogs on Saturday. Puck drop is set for 4:00 p.m. at the Brantford Civic Center.
LAST TIME OUT: On Friday the Birds toppled the Oshawa Generals 7-2 at the Tribute Communities Centre. Oliver Peer and Connor Clattenburg each scored twice. Peer’s two goals plus one assist pushed his total to 15 points (8 G, 7 A) in 11 games as a Firebird and it was Clattenburg’s first two-goal game of the season. Nathan Day made 30 saves on 32 shots to earn the win in net.
SERIES HISTORY: Saturday’s game is the first of two between the Firebirds and Bulldogs this season and is the lone contest to be played at the Brantford Civic Center. Last year, which was the Bulldogs’ final season in Hamilton, Flint won both meetings between these clubs. Their all-time mark versus the Bulldogs organization sits at 6-3-2-0 with a 2-3-0-0 mark in road games.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: (26-15-6-2, 1st East Division) –
Sophomore forward Marek Vanacker leads the Dogs in scoring with 26 goals and 33 assists for 59 points on the season. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Nick Lardis leads Brantford in goals with 29, which are tied for the fifth most in the league. He has 50 total points in the campaign. Rookie forward Jake O’Brien ranks third with 46 points (9 G, 37 A).
Overage goaltender Matteo Drobac has 21 wins across 38 appearances including two shutouts. His goals-against average is 3.37 and his save percentage is .888. Rookie David Egorov carries a 4.29 GAA with an .857 SV% with five wins in 17 appearances this season.
The Bulldogs rank 16th on the power play this season, just one position ahead of the Firebirds. They’re scoring at an 18.0% clip with the man advantage. The penalty killers are getting the job done 81.2% of the time which ranks sixth in the league.
SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: (20-25-3-1, 4th West Division) –
Oliver Peer tops Flint on the scoresheet with the most goals (30), assists (32), and total points (62) this season. Fellow overager Nolan Dann has jumped into the second spot with 19 tallies and 28 helpers for 47 points and has points in 18 of his last 19 games. Team captain Coulson Pitre now ranks third with 45 total points (22 G, 23 A).
Nathan Day has 18 wins through 42 appearances between the pipes. His goals-against average is 3.89 and his save percentage is .861. Rookie Jacob Brown has a 4.82 GAA and an .836 SV% with two wins in 10 games.
The Firebirds have the 17th-ranked power play in the OHL with a 17.2% rate of success. Their penalty kill is 15th and operates at 77.5%.
ODDS & ENDS: Of the remaining 19 regular-season games, the Firebirds will play 12 home and seven on the road, including Saturday’s contest. Four of the remaining 19 games are against the Sarnia sting, who currently sit one point ahead of Flint in the West Division and Western Conference standings. Another four are against Windsor who are nine points behind the Birds… The Firebirds are 4-1-2-0 this year when facing opponents from the East Division and 15-10-1-0 across all road games. Brantford’s home record sits at 15-6-0-2.
BROADCAST COVERAGE: This evening’s game against the Brantford Bulldogs 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 pregame show at 3:40 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 home for another mid-week tilt, hosting the Sarnia Sting on a special Valentine’s Day Buy One, Get One FREE game. More details are available on flintfirebirds.com and tickets are available from ETIX.COM HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills // flintfirebirds.com