PREVIEW: Firebirds Set to Host First-Place Knights on Wednesday
FLINT, Mich. — The London Knights roll into Flint on Wednesday night riding an unprecedented, 20-game point streak, featuring 18 wins and two shootout losses. The Firebirds will look to end London’s streak while chasing critical points for playoff positioning on home ice. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Dort Financial Center.
WEEKEND WOES: On Friday night in Flint, Oliver Peer scored twice and the game against the visiting Barrie Colts was tied at a pair with two minutes remaining. Barrie scored twice in the final 1:36 to hand the Birds a disappointing 4-2 defeat. On Saturday at home against the Ottawa 67’s, the Firebirds erased a two-goal deficit to tie the game and force overtime. The visitors scored just 17 seconds into overtime, forcing Flint to settle for just one point. Nolan Dann had a two-point night (1 G, 1 A) and now has points in 16 of the last 17 games. Nathan Day made 44 saves on 50 shots faced across back-to-back starts.
SERIES HISTORY: Wednesday’s game is the third of four meetings between Flint and London this season and is the first of two scheduled at the Dort Financial Center. Back on November 17 the Birds traveled to London and defeated the Knights 7-4 at Budweiser Gardens, led by a hat trick from Coulson Pitre. On New Year’s Eve, the Knights bested the Birds 5-3 despite another three-point (1 G, 2 A) performance by Pitre. Flint’s all-time record versus London stands at 9-18-1-2 with ten of their battles ending in a one-goal differential. The mark is 4-8-1-1 on home ice in the series.
SCOUTING THE KNIGHTS: (35-11-0-3, 1st Midwest Division) –
Philadelphia Flyers prospect Denver Barkey continues to pile up the points, ranking third in the league with 71 points and fifth with 45 assists. Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowan ranks second with 22 goals and 42 helpers for 64 points and is riding an 18-game point streak, the longest active streak in the OHL. Winnipeg Jets prospect Jacob Julien occupies the third spot with 62 points (22 G, 40 A).
Michael Simpson leads the OHL in wins (23) and goals-against average (2.55) and has the third-best save percentage at .908 through 34 games. His backup, Owen Willmore, was named the OHL Goaltender of the Week for his solid performance in three consecutive starts. He earned three wins including a shutout and recorded a 1.96 GAA with a SV% of .918. For the year he has 11 wins across 17 appearances and sports a 3.12 GAA and an .895 SV%.
The Knights have the best power play and penalty kill in the league this season. With the man advantage, they’re scoring at a 32.6% clip overall and 38.0% in road games. The PK is clicking at a rate of 84.7%.
SCOUTING THE FIREBIRDS: (19-24-3-1, 4th West Division) –
Overager Oliver Peer continues his red-hot play with 11 points (6 G, 5 A) in the nine games he’s been a member of the Firebirds. He tops the scoring for the season with 28 tallies and 30 helpers for 58 points. Peer has scored the first goal of the game eight times this season, which is more than anyone in the OHL. Coulson Pitre is second with 45 points from combining 22 goals with 23 assists. Nolan Dann is one point back in third with 44 points (18 G, 26 A).
Nathan Day has 17 wins in 40 appearances between the pipes for Flint this season. His goals-against average is 3.80 and his save percentage is .864. Rookie Jacob Brown has a 4.82 GAA and an .836 SV% with two wins in 10 games.
The Firebirds are now 17th on the power play with a success rate of 17.1%. The penalty-kill is operating at a 78.7% clip which is 12th in the OHL.
ODDS & ENDS: During their current 20-game point streak, London has outscored their opponents 103-43. This includes five games when they’ve scored seven or more goals…The Knights’ record on the road stands at 16-6-0-2 this season while the Birds are seeking their sixth home win with a 5-13-2-1 mark at home… The Firebirds have gone 6-9-0-1 versus opponents from the Midwest Division this season.
PROMOTIONS: Wednesday’s contest is another Buy One, Get One Free event. When fans purchase one ticket they will receive a complimentary ticket of equal or lesser value for free. It’s also another double redemption opportunity for unused season membership tickets (valid at Dort Financial Box Office ONLY).
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 pregame 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: The Birds head out for a pair of away games this weekend in Oshawa and Brantford before hosting the Sarnia Sting for a special Valentine’s Day Buy One, Get One FREE game next Wednesday. More details are available on flintfirebirds.com and tickets are available from ETIX.COM HERE.
Story: Brandon Mills // flintfirebirds.com