Flint, Mich. – Hunter Holmes scored the game-winning goal 1:38 into overtime to lift the Flint Firebirds over the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-3 at the Dort Federal Event Center on Friday night. Flint’s Kyle Harris potted two goals, Jack Wismer notched two assists and Connor Roberts scored his first goal in a Firebirds’ uniform against his former team as well. The Firebirds have now won two consecutive games over Hamilton, both in Flint.
The Firebirds found paydirt early in the first period when Kyle Harris found the back-of-the-net past visiting netminder Nick Donofrio on his blocker-side just 2:33 into the game. The play started with Ethan Keppen carrying the puck into the Hamilton zone. From the left point, he passed the puck cross-ice to Jack Wismer. Wismer took a slapshot that Donofrio was able to save with his right pad but the rebound found Harris streaking in from the top of the left-wing face-off circle. It was Harris’ second goal of the season and first of the night.
Harris lit-the-lamp again at the 9:04 mark of the opening period. He gained his second goal of the night and third of the game on a centering pass from Wismer, who won a puck battle in the corner. Wismer emerged with the puck, sent a tape-to-tape pass to Harris and the ensuing wrist shot beat Donofrio low to the blocker side.
At 13:07 of the opening frame, Connor Roberts scored his fourth of the season and first goal as a Firebird against his former team. He scored off a cross-ice pass from Ty Dellandrea that made it through traffic in the slot and found Roberts in position and ready. He sniped the puck home blocker-side of the visiting netminder. The Firebirds led 3-0 and were ahead 8-6 in shots after one period of play. Goaltender Donofrio was done for the evening, with Kaden Fulcher (Detroit Red Wings) replacing him in the second period.
Just over six minutes into the second period, Hamilton’s Marian Studenic (New Jersey Devils) narrowed the gap to two with a wrist shot from between the circles. Assists on the play were credited to Brandon Saigeon and MacKenzie Entwistle (Arizona Coyotes).
Less than a minute past the halfway point of the middle stanza, Will Bitten (Montreal Canadiens) cut the visitors’ deficit to one. With a loose puck in the goal crease and several bodies in front of the Flint cage, it was Bitten who lifted a backhander over the sprawling Garrett Forrest to score his seventh goal of the season.
The Flint lead was erased when Ryan Moore scored his ninth goal of the season and first as a Hamilton Bulldog at the 14:40 mark of the second period. The goal was unassisted and the result was a tied game after forty minutes.
Less than five minutes into the third period and with Flint’s Jake Durham in the penalty box for a kneeing minor, Ty Dellandrea shot down the ice on a shorthanded breakaway. Hamilton’s defender interfered with his attempted shot, resulting in a penalty shot awarded. Ty stick-handled into the left face-off circle and as he skated back to center, he lifted a rising wrist-shot toward the top-right corner of the net that missed the goal. The game remained tied 3-3 after regulation.
The Firebirds only needed 1:38 of overtime to claim the victory. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) picked up his own rebound behind the Hamilton goal and slid the puck in front to Hunter Holmes. Holmes was poised and ready in the slot, lifting a one-time shot glove-side past goaltender Kaden Fulcher to win the game.
Flint was a perfect 4-for-4 on the penalty-kill but did not score on three man-advantage. Forrest picked up his eighth victory on the season.
Next Home Game:
Flint returns home to the Dort Federal Event Center tomorrow, Saturday Dec. 2 for the Firebirds’ third-annual “Teddy Bear Toss” Night. Saturday, fans are encouraged to bring new or gently used teddy bears or stuffed animals to the game and after the Firebirds score their first goal, fans can launch them onto the ice. The stuffed animals will be collected and donated to the Ennis Center for Children, Hurley Medical Center, Michigan State Police and the Whaley Children’s Center. Last year, the Firebirds donated more than 1,000 stuffed animals to the local charities. Fans are asked to bring and throw their stuffed animals in bags so that they stay dry for the kids.
Also on Saturday, four-time Stanley Cup Champion and former Detroit Red Wing Joe Kocur will be signing autographs on the arena concourse from 6-7:30 p.m. The First 1,000 fans through the door will receive a free Joe Kocur photo card to get autographed.
Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 / Bronze, $16 / Silver, $20 / Gold and $26 for VIP seating. All seats are reserved / assigned seating. Fans can purchase tickets at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office and online at ticketmaster.com. For ticket information, flex tickets or group outings, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (810) 701-8536 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To book a private suite, please contact Karla Turner at (810) 744-0580 ext. 213 or email email@example.com.
Photo Credit: Danen Williams / Flint Firebirds
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