Guelph, Ont. – After posting a victory in their last outing against the Hamilton Bulldogs before a capacity crowd in Flint on Saturday, the Flint Firebirds are on the road to face-off against the Guelph Storm Friday night. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Sleeman Centre (capacity 4,715).
Flint Firebirds (22-21-1-3, 8th Western Conference):
Sherwood, Caamano and Moore are the three Firebirds to watch Friday night. Sherwood will return to the line-up after missing three games due to a suspension. Sherwood is currently riding a 10-game point streak where he has racked-up 22 points (10G, 12) in that time. He has nine goals in his past six contests and has 23 goals and 29 assists in 40 games thus far.
Moore has 17 points in the last 12 games and is eighth among all OHL skaters with 60 points this season. Moore has seven goals in the last nine games and is currently in a tie for third most shorthanded goals scored in the OHL with three this season. Nicholas Caamano (Dallas Stars) has 13 points (8G, 5A) in the last 11 contests and has four goals in his past four games. Caamano is third on the Firebirds’ roster with 21 goals and 23 assists in 47 games played.
Additionally, Maurizio Colella scored a goal in the last game against the Bulldogs and has nine goals and 12 assists in 44 games played this season. Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) collected two assists in the last game and has 31 points in 44 games thus far. Firebirds' Captain Alex Peters has racked-up 11 points (4G, 7A) in the last 11 games and has six goals and 17 assists in 46 games this journey. Former Guelph draft pick Luke Kirwan tallied an assist on Saturday and has 14 goals and seven assists in 22 games played.
C.J. Clarke, Samuel Duchesne, Jake Durham, Fedor Gordeev and Jack Phibbs are five first-time eligible players to be selected in the NHL Draft in June 2017.
In net, Garrett Forrest is 7-10-1-1 and started in the Firebirds last game. Forrest made a career-high 40 saves on 43 shots against the Bulldogs on Saturday and has a 3.45 GAA and a .882 SAV%. Connor Hicks is 14-9-0-2 and is statistically the ninth-best goaltender in the OHL with a 3.17 GAA and a .882 SAV%.
NHL: The Firebirds currently have two players that have signed contracts with NHL clubs. Forward Kole Sherwood signed a three-year NHL contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets (July 2015) and defenseman Jalen Smereck signed a three-year NHL contract with the Arizona Coyotes (October 2016). Flint’s Nicholas Caamano was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the most recent NHL Draft in June 2016. Along with Caamano, Sherwood and Smereck, four more Flint Firebirds competed in NHL training camps this fall: Everett Clark (St. Louis Blues), Connor Hicks (Detroit Red Wings), Luke Kirwan (Detroit Red Wings) and Alex Peters (Carolina Hurricanes).
Guelph Storm (17-27-2-2, 10th Western Conference):
Isaac Ratcliffe leads the Storm in scoring with 40 points and has three goals in his past five games. Rookie defenseman Ryan Merkley leads all rookie skaters in points with 36 and is second on Guelph’s roster with seven goals and 29 assists in 42 games. Merkley was the first-pick overall in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection. Givani Smith (Detroit Red Wings) is third on the team in scoring with 20 goals and 14 assists in 45 games thus far.
Five Storm players are also ranked among the top North American skaters for the upcoming 2017 NHL Draft which takes place June 23-24 in Chicago. Isaac Ratcliffe (#20), Nate Schnarr (#32), Dmitri Samorukov (#122), Nicholas Deakin-Poot (#135) and Albert Michnac (#162) are ranked among North American skaters respectively.
Between-the-pipes, Liam Herbst is 11-16-2-1 and has a 3.58 GAA and a .897 SAV%. Anthony Popovich is 6-11-0-1 and allowed nine goals on 38 shots in Guelph's last game against the Otters. Popovich has a 4.75 GAA along with a .873 GAA.
NHL: The lone player on Guelph that has been drafted by an NHL club is Givani Smith (Detroit Red Wings).
42 notable Guelph Storm alumni to play in the NHL are Craig Anderson, Jamie Arniel, Eric Beaudoin, Chris Beckford-Tseu, Ken Belanger, Todd Bertuzzi, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Michael Caruso, Dan Cloutier, Sylvain Cloutier, Jeff Cowan, Matt D’Agostini, Kevin Dallman, Drew Doughty, Aaron Downey, Dan Girardi, Chris Hajt, Dwayne Hay, Peter Holland, Greg Jacina, Cam Janssen, Kevin Klein, Manny Malhotra, Tom McCollum, Kent McDonnel, Brian McGrattan, Rumun Ndur, Jeff O’Neill, Dan Paille, Ryan Parent, Mike Prokopec, Matt Ryan, Martin St. Pierre, Charlie Stephens, Alek Stojanov, Danny Taylor, Fedor Tyutin, Ryan VandenBussche, Herbert Vasiljevs, Brian Wesenberg, Brian Willsie and Jamie Wright.
Friday evening’s contest against the Storm can be heard live on 1330 AM WTRX Sports Radio in Flint & Mid-Michigan and around the world online on the Sports Xtra 1330 Radio app here. Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 7:00 p.m. Additionally, the game will be televised live in Guelph on channel 20/510 (HD) for Rogers TV cable subscribers and throughout the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 461 for Rogers TV subscribers and 492 for Cogeco TV cable subscribers. Fans can also watch the game live online at www.ohllive.com or on the OHL Live App.
Next Home Game:
The Flint Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Event Center Saturday, Feb. 4 to host the Kitchener Rangers. Fans will be treated to a special guest appearance from Joe Kocur, a former enforcer with the Detroit Red Wings and a four-time Stanley Cup Champion. Kocur will be in attendance for an autograph session on the arena concourse from 6-7:30 p.m. The autograph session is available to all fans with a suggested $5 donation to the Firebirds Charitable Foundation. 1,500 special Joe Kocur autograph cards will be handed out at the door starting at 6:00 PM courtesy of Commercial Graphics.
Single game tickets for the Flint Firebirds 2016-17 season are $12 for Bronze, $15 for Silver, $19 for Gold and $25 for VIP seating. All seats are reserved / assigned seating. Parking has been reduced to $5 dollars which is new this season. Fans can purchase tickets at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office or online by clicking ticketmaster.com.
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