Ignited by a franchise-best regular season record of 42-21-5, the Flint Firebirds are motoring into the Ontario Hockey League playoffs as the no. 3 seed in the Western Conference.
Flint, which became an OHL franchise in 2015, will face the no. 6 seed Owen Sound Attack in the opening round of a best-of-seven series. Owen Sound gained momentum as the season progressed and finished with a record of 34-26-8, 13 points back of Flint. To be sure, the Attack will be no easy out for the Firebirds.
The Firebirds are backed by workhorse goalie Luke Cavallin (photo above by Bob Davies), who posted a record of 36-14-4 with a .910 save percentage and 3.16 goals against average. Cavallin’s 36 wins were a league best and his .910 save percentage was second only to Brett Brochu of the London Knights among Western Conference goalies.
Offensively, Brennan Othmann holds the keys to the Flint ignition. A top National Hockey League prospect of the New York Rangers, Othmann scored 50 goals for Flint during the 2021-2022 regular season.
Others who can dent the twine with regularity for the Firebirds are Riley Piercey, Ethan Keppen, rookie Coulson Pitre, Tag Bertuzzi, rookie Gavin Hayes, Amadeus Lombardi and defenseman Dmitry Kuzmin.
Piercey potted 27 goals, Keppen and Pitre both netted 23, Bertuzzi banged home 21, Hayes hit for 19 and Lombardi and Kuzmin connected for 18 apiece. Kuzmin is a defense prospect of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets.
First-year head coach Ted Dent gets a lot of credit for Flint’s record-setting season. Dent kept the Firebirds together through a bizarre mid March incident in which general manager Terry Christensen was expelled from the OHL by commissioner David Branch for insensitive remarks that he allegedly made about an opposing player.
Notably, of the OHL’s three American teams, Flint was the only one to make the playoffs as both the Erie Otters and Saginaw Spirit missed out.