Buffalo, NY – Firebirds’ defenseman Hakon Nilsen found the back-of-the-net while on the power-play for his second goal of the pre-season in a 6-1 loss to the North Bay Battalion Sunday afternoon. It was the third and final game of the inaugural OHL Pre-Season Showcase, held at the HarborCenter in Buffalo.
North Bay’s Daniel Walker and Brett McKenzie (Vancouver Canucks) each had a goal and an assist, Cam Dineen (Arizona Coyotes), Justin Brazeau, Luke Burghardt and Alex Robert added single tallies. Brad Chenier pitched in with two assists.
In the early going Flint fell into penalty trouble. The Firebirds were able to hold off North Bay with some strong work on the penalty-kill which included a brief 5-on-3 man-advantage for the Battalion. Flint killed three consecutive penalties in the first period.
With both teams at full strength, North Bay scored the only goal of the first period at 11:44. Brazeau let go a shot from the right circle that seemed to deflect off a Flint player and into the goal. Brett McKenzie and Brad Chenier drew the assists.
The Firebirds had chances near the end of the period as Dellandrea was stopped by the Battalions’ Woroniuk with his chest. Jack Wismer came close with a shot that Woroniuk made a nice glove save on as well. North Bay outshot Flint 15-8 in the first period.
In the first half of the middle stanza the Firebirds had a couple of power-play chances but failed to convert.
The Battalion made it 2-0 on an unassisted goal from Dineen when he managed to break through from left circle and beat Firebirds’ goaltender Luke Cavallin on the short-side at 9:42. Then, McKenzie made it 3-0 scoring shorthanded, 1:16 after the Dineen goal. McKenzie picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in around the Firebirds’ defenseman and from his backhand, slid the puck past Cavallin on the ice.
The Firebirds had one more man-advantage with five minutes left in the second period but could not cash in.
Julian Sime was inserted in net for the Battalion mid-way through the middle frame. Woroniuk’s day was done after playing 29:27 and stopping all 16 shots. Shots were even in the second period at 12 apiece.
North Bay increased their lead early in the third period after a Battalion shot hit both posts before Robert banked the puck off Cavallin’s mask and into the net. Brad Chenier drew an assist.
The Firebirds would get on the board at 10:20 of the third period when Hakon Nilsen let go a quick release, one-timing the puck from the left circle that beat Sime on the short-side. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) dished the puck to Nilsen from the right-point. Keppen was awarded an assist as well. The goal was Nilsen’s second in three pre-season games.
North Bay added two more goals late in the third period to put the game away. Walker scored unassisted on the power-play at 13:30 and Burghardt from Walker and Brady Lyle wrapped up the scoring at 14:20.
Next up, the Firebirds are holding their third annual “Firebirds Fan Fest” Open House this Wednesday, September 6th at the Dort Federal Event Center from 5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
The ‘Firebirds Fan Fest’ is a business after hours, family-friendly event that gives members of the community the chance to select their actual seats for the upcoming season and meet and greet Firebirds’ players, coaches and staff. Current season ticket holders may pick up their season ticket books for the 2017-18 campaign during this exciting event.
Parking and admission is free for all fans. There will be fun activities offered including tours of the Firebirds’ NHL-style locker room, a dunk tank for fans to dunk the Firebirds, an autograph station with the players, gaming stations set up for fans to play as the Firebirds in the EA Sports NHL ’17 video game and a variety of bounce houses for the kids. Face painting and puck shooting stations will also be available. Event sponsors include Aaron’s Inc., Funtastic Inflatables and PepsiCo Inc.
Flint will finish the pre-season with a home-and-home series against the Saginaw Spirit. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Sep. 15 at the Dow Event Center in Saginaw, before the Firebirds host the Spirit on Saturday, Sep. 16 also at 7 p.m. at Iceland Arenas on Elms Rd. in Clayton Township. General admission tickets are $10 and fans can purchase online at Ticketmaster.com here.
Photo Credit: Amanda Ray / Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
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