Flint, Mich. – More than 3,400 fans were on hand for ‘Overager Night’ at the Dort Federal Event Center Saturday night. Overage forward Maurizio Colella scored the overtime game-winning tally, overage defenseman Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) earned his 100th career point in the OHL and overage netminder Garrett Forrest made 36 saves on 38 shots to earn the victory between the pipes. The Firebirds are now 4-1-1-0 against Sudbury all-time.
The game started with a high energy level from both clubs. Just 31 seconds into the first period, Colella dropped the gloves with Kyle Rhodes. Colella received the extra two minutes for roughing and Flint was successful on their first penalty kill of the contest. Shortly after returning to full strength, another minor was assessed to the Firebirds for too many men on the ice during a line change. This time the Wolves converted on the power play, earning a one-goal lead at 3:31. Zack Malik made a skill play to keep the puck in Flint’s zone at the blue line on a Firebirds’ clearing attempt. He then dished the puck to Owen Gilhula who snapped a shot that beat Garrett Forrest top-shelf over his right shoulder. It was Gilhula’s sixth of the season.
The Firebirds then capitalized on their first chance with the man advantage. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) carried the puck into the Sudbury zone. He made an impressive move around a Sudbury defender and was taken down on the play. As the two players fell to the ice and slid between the circles, the puck got caught under them and found its way on net. Rookie netminder David Bowen, son of Toronto Maple Leafs radio play-by-play broadcaster Joe Bowen, attempted to poke the puck out of harms way, but it rebounded off his defenseman and into his net. Gordeev was credited with his seventh goal of the season, unassisted at 6:37.
Flint finished the first period trailing 12 – 10 on the shot clock. Their penalty kill was one-for-two and their power play was a perfect one-for-one. The score was tied at one.
The Firebirds would light the lamp for the only tally in the middle frame during four-on-four play on a highlight-reel type goal from Ty Dellandrea. Smereck picked up the puck in his own end and passed to his defensive partner, Riley McCourt. McCourt slid a backhand pass to Ty Dellandrea in the neutral zone. Ty made a skilled move around a Sudbury defender who managed to take him down on the play. While falling to the ice, Dellandrea pulled the puck to his backhand and slid the puck past Bowen on the left-side of the goal for his team-leading 25th tally of the season. With the assist on the play at 5:30 of the second period, Firebirds’ Captain Smereck reached his 100th career point in the OHL.
Flint held the lead 2 – 1 after 40 minutes of play. The Wolves held the second-period advantage on the shot clock 16 – 10, for a two-period edge of 28 – 20.
Sudbury rallied back to tie the game at 3:17 of the third period on an even-strength goal by Drake Pilon, his 13th of the campaign. On a two-on-one break with his twin brother Darian pacing him on the left-wing side, he opted to shoot rather than pass. As a result he caught Forrest over his left shoulder. Shane Bulitka and Peter Stratis picked up the assists.
Flint dominated the third-period shots 16 – 9, but the score remained tied at the end of regulation.
For the second time in two nights, the Firebirds used overtime to secure the victory. Maurizio Colella picked the pocket of a Sudbury defender in the right corner of the Wolves’ zone. He then worked his way toward the net alone, where we out-waited Bowen and lifted a wrister top-shelf to record the Firebirds’ second-straight victory. Final shots favored Flint 39 – 38.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will head to Erie, Penn. Tuesday for a Wednesday night tilt against the Erie Otters. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Erie Insurance Arena. The game will be televised live across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 455 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 485 for Cogeco TV cable subscribers. In addition, the game can be heard live on the radio in Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and online at www.us103.com. Radio pre-game coverage with Dominic Hennig begins at 6:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: Danen Williams / Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club