Firebirds come-from-behind three times to tie, suffer heartbreaking loss in final minute Friday

Danen Williams

Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Barrett Hayton’s goal with 15.2 seconds left in the game broke a 5-5 tie and gave the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds a dramatic 6-5 win over the Flint Firebirds to push their winning streak to 22 games in front of 4,438 at the Essar Center on Friday night.

The Firebirds did everything they could to try to snap the Greyhounds long winning-streak tying the game three times in the third period but in the end, it was not to be, despite a valiant effort.

Hunter Holmes, Jack Wismer and Ty Dellandrea all scored in the final frame as the Firebirds rallied from a goal down three times. Not to be overlooked, the Firebirds also had a fourth goal in the final frame disallowed because of an off-side call after a review.

Jalen Smereck, C.J. Clarke and Hunter Holmes had a goal and an assist for the Firebirds.

Garrett Forrest turned aside 24 of 30 shots in net for Flint.

Rasmus Sandin scored twice and had a three-point night for the Greyhounds. Cole MacKay and Barrett Hayton added a goal and an assist in the victory. Tim Gettinger (New York Rangers) and Ryan Roth also scored once each. Tyler Johnson stopped 29 of 34 shots in goal.

The Firebirds started off strong forcing the early play in the Sault Ste. Marie zone and were rewarded when the Greyhounds were assessed a minor penalty. C.J. Clarke made quick work on the power-play as he let go a slap-shot from the top of the circle that beat goaltender Tyler Johnson on the glove side. The power-play goal came at 2:55. Clarke’s seventh goal is a career high and is his second in the past two games. The goal was assisted by Nicholas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs).

Jalen Smereck made it 2-0 with 1:07 remaining in the opening frame. It was a smart play by Smereck as he anticipated the pass that the Greyhounds tried to execute, intercepting the feed near center ice and then proceeded to drive the net from the left side, letting go a blast from the top of the circle that went over Johnson’s left shoulder on the far side. Smereck’s fourth of the year and second in two nights was unassisted.

The Firebirds dominated the opening frame as they out-shot the Greyhounds 10-5.

Goaltender Johnson came up with a great save on a Jake Durham breakaway early in the second period to keep the score at 2-0. Johnson flashed the leather while making the glove save to deny Durham, who was left looking towards the heaven’s wondering how he didn’t score.

Keeghan Howdeshell made a bid to score as the Greyhounds winger was set up with a nice pass but Forrest looked to get a piece of the puck which made it roll of Howdeshell’s stick as the puck went just wide of the net. Moments later the Greyhounds got on the board at 14:43. The Greyhounds were on a 3-on-2 rush with Cole MacKay leading the way, putting the puck on net from just inside the blue-line. Forrest made the initial save but MacKay was able to get to the rebound roofing the puck on the glove-side of Forrest. Jack Kopacka (Anaheim Ducks) and Anthony DeMeo drew the assist.

The Greyhounds tied the game on the power-play late with 1:27 remaining in the second period on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle from Sandin. The assists went to Mac Hollowell and Keeghan Howdeshell.

Sault Ste. Marie went ahead for the first time as Ryan Roth beat Forrest from the slot after receiving a pass from Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers) from the side of the net. The goal came at 3:57 of the third period. Barrett Hayton also received an assist.

The Firebirds appeared to score twice in less than two minutes but the second goal which would have put the Firebirds back on top was disallowed. The first goal which tied the game at 3-3 came after a 2-on-1 odd-man-rush with Clarke and Hunter Holmes at 9:15. Clarke carried the puck towards the goal and fed Holmes who went upstairs on Johnson’s stick side for his sixth of the season. The second goal was disallowed following a lengthy review after it was decided that the Firebirds were off-side.

Sandin scored his second of the game to put the Greyhounds back in front at 11:11. However there was no quit in the Firebirds. Gordeev picked up the puck in the Greyhounds end and skated the distance and as he skated past the goal he backhanded a pass to Jake Wismer who buried it shortside. Wismer’s second of the year came at 15:07.

Tim Gettinger scored at 15:32 but the Firebirds tied it once again at 18:27.Ty Dellandrea’s 13th goal from Holmes and Connor Roberts. Dellandrea put the puck through the pads of Johnson after the Firebirds won an important face-off in the Greyhounds’ end.

It seemed like overtime was in order but Barrett Hayton scored the game-winning goal with just 15.2 seconds left in regulation. The goal was thought to be off-sides, but the play stood after the review showed it was a good goal.

Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will play their third game in three night’s when the club faces-off on the road against in-state rival, Saginaw Spirit. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Dow Event Center for the fourth of eight games between the two cities this year. Fans unable to attend the game can listen live on the radio throughout mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and worldwide online at Pre-game coverage with Dominic Hennig begins 35 minutes prior to face-off at 6:30 p.m.

Next Home Game:
The Flint Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Event Center next Saturday, Jan. 6 to start off the Firebirds’ Fight Hunger month. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) vs. the Erie Otters. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to any Firebirds’ home game in the month of January to receive a complimentary sponsored silver level ticket, limit of four tickets per person.

Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 / Bronze, $16 / Silver, $20 / Gold and $26 / VIP seating (Seating Chart). All seats are reserved / assigned seating. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (810) 744-0580, in-person at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office or online at here

For ticket information, flex tickets or group outings, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (810) 701-8536 or email To book a private suite, please contact Karla Turner at (810) 744-0580 ext. 213 or email


For more information:

Dominic Hennig
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
(810) 519-9347

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