Firebirds Host Lone Preseason Tilt Sunday Afternoon
FLINT, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds launched the 2023 preseason Saturday night versus division rival Windsor Spitfires. The Spits skated away with a 5-3 victory, despite Flint generating more shots on net by a margin of 39 – 28. These clubs will meet again this afternoon at Flint Iceland Arena, with puck drop set for 4:00 p.m. General admission tickets are priced at only $10, and admission is free for all season membership holders.
On Friday at the WFCU Centre, Nathan Day (Edmonton) backstopped the Birds and logged 23 saves on 28 shots-faced. Yarker, Ont. native Jacob Brown suited up as Day’s backup in his first OHL contest. Second-year defenseman Marko Stojkov was first to find twine in the contest, followed by sophomore forward Owen Pitters, who hails from Chesterfield, Mich. The Spitfires potted the next four consecutive markers before the veteran Zacharie Giroux pulled the Firebirds within one with his first goal of the preseason late in the middle frame. Windsor rookie Kyler Morgan sealed the win for the home team with the lone tally of the third, which was his first point in OHL action.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Headlining an exciting group of returning players for Flint is right-wing Gavin Hayes, who finished second on last season’s squad in both goals and points. The Westland, Mich. native posted 41 goals and 40 assists in 66 games played, becoming just the third player in franchise history to hit the 40-goal mark. A 2022 third-round selection of the Chicago Blackhawks, Hayes signed an entry-level contract with his NHL club in April. Additionally, defender Tristan Bertucci (2nd round, Dallas), winger Coulson Pitre (3rd round, Anaheim), goaltender Nathaniel Day (6th round, Edmonton) and center Ethan Hay (7th round, Tampa Bay) were each selected in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
Among the group of newcomers is the 2023 OHL Priority Selection first-round draft choice Jeremy Martin. The 15th overall pick in the draft tallied 28 goals in 32 games for the Toronto Marlboros U16 in the Greater Toronto Hockey League during the 2022-23 season. Other newcomers to the forward group include 2023 CHL import draft selection Markas Samenas, a 6-foot-5 forward who reentered the import draft following a season with Acadie-Bathurst in the QMJHL, and 2023 second-round pick Jimmy Lombardi. From the blue line, rookie Mason Taylor logged an assist last night and finished his first OHL game with a +1 rating.
BEHIND THE BENCH:
Head coach Ted Dent returns for his third season at the helm of the Firebirds. Over his first two seasons, Dent has guided the Birds to a 77-49-5-5 record and back-to-back postseason appearances. He will be assisted by Reijo Ruostalainen, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with 14 seasons of coaching experience, Paul Flache, who returns to Flint where he had previously been an assistant coach from 2016-18, and Saverio Posa, back for his second season with the Firebirds.
Flint will complete its preseason schedule with games at Windsor on September 21 and at Sarnia on September 22. The Firebirds’ regular season begins on the road on September 29 against the Soo in the GFL Memorial Gardens at 7:07 p.m. They return home the next night for Opening Night at the Dort Financial Center on September 30 against the Kitchener Rangers at 7:00 p.m. 2023-24 Season Memberships remain on sale! Memberships start as low as $408 for the full season. Benefits for full-season membership holders include FREE parking ($340 value), $102 of ticket savings for all of the 2023-24 season, (4) complimentary tickets to regular-season games in Saginaw, (2) buddy vouchers to bring a friend to any Firebirds’ game, any game unused ticket redemption and an exclusive invitation to team and player events.
Single-game Tickets are on sale NOW! on Etix.com and at the Dort Financial Center Box Office. The Box Office is now open during normal scheduled business hours from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Continue to follow @FlintFirebirds on all social media channels to learn more about team movement, ticket sales, promotions, giveaways, and MORE ahead of the 2023-24 season.
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com