Watch: Firebirds Post Second-Straight Home-Win in Flint with 4-3 Victory Over Erie Saturday Night
Flint, Mich – The Firebirds scored two unanswered goals to earn a come-from-behind victory over the Erie Otters en-route to their second consecutive home-win in front of more than 3,800 fans at the Dort Federal Event Center Saturday night.
Rookie netminder Luke Cavallin made 19 saves in regulation and stopped four-of-five Otters’ skaters in the shootout for his third-career win and second-straight on home-ice. Flint scored a power-play goal for their fifth consecutive game and kept the visitors off the scoreboards when shorthanded. For the Firebirds, Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) and Jack Wismer each earned two points in the contest. Shots on goal and face-offs were dominated by the home squad, shots by more than double 46-22 and face-offs by a margin of 39-25.
Ethan Keppen was first to light-the-lamp in the contest. From the neutral zone, Keppen poked the puck forward and split the defense, eventually winning the footrace and chopping the puck top-shelf into the Otters’ net for a highlight reel goal. The goal was scored 10:12 of the opening frame and was Keppen’s seventh of the season. Assists on the play were credited to Jack Wismer and Hakon Nilsen.
Erie would tie the contest 22 seconds later. Jack Duff carried the puck into the Firebirds’ zone along the right-wing boards. Poised in front was Stephane Patry, who fired a one-timer off the cross bar and into the Firebirds’ net.
The game was tied 1-1 after 20 minutes of play, Flint led in shots 11-7.
The Otter’s struck paydirt first in the second period, 13 seconds into the middle frame. Maxim Golod gained control of the puck behind the Flint net and tried to center a pass to the slot. The puck took a funny bounce off Cavallin’s stick and into the net.
With the puck tied up on the nearside wall in the Firebirds’ zone, Ivan Lodnia (Minnesota Wild) poked the puck loose to force a 2-on-1 with Joseph Mack. Lodnia dished the puck to Mack in the slot who buried to increase Erie’s lead to two.
The Firebirds pulled within one early in the third period, scoring their fifth power-play goal in the past five games. Smereck gloved down a clearing attempt by the Otters and stick-handled into the left-side faceoff circle. From there, he made a precise cross-ice pass to Ty Dellandrea in the opposite circle. Dellandrea fired on net, and Maurizio Colella was able to redirect the shot past Murphy.
Moments later, the Firebirds tied the contest when Jalen Smereck rifled a break-out pass from deep in the defensive zone that found a streaking Wismer just as he got to the blue line. Wismer was able to remain a pace ahead of two Erie defenders and make a great forehand to backhand deke as he skated through the slot. He lifted a backhand shot that beat Murphy above his right shoulder. The goal was Wismer’s fourth of the season, and third goal in the past four games. Smereck’s assist was his second of the night.
At the end of regulation, the score was tied three goals per side. The Firebirds were outshooting the Otters 42-21.
Despite the Firebirds tallying four shots on goal in overtime, a shootout was needed to decide the winner.
After Cavallin made the save on the first shooter, it was Maurizio Colella who put the home team up 1-0 after the first round of the shootout. Colella gathered the puck from the center face-off dot and skated into the left-wing circle. He fired a quick snap-shot that snuck just inside the near-side post, ice-level. Colella is a perfect 3-for-3 in shootouts this season.
In the third round, Erie’s Maxim Golod struck twine with a backhand shot from right in front of the net. The shootout would go to the fifth round before Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) would fire a shot over Murphy’s outstretched pad to bring the near-capacity crowd to their feet. Mattinen’s sixth of the season earned him first-star honors, and netminder Luke Cavallin claimed his second shootout victory in his past two starts.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will head east for ‘three games in three night’s’ beginning Friday in Oshawa. Puck drop is set for 7:35 p.m. The game can be heard live on the radio in Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and worldwide online at www.us103.com. Pre-game coverage with Dominic Hennig begins at 7 p.m.
Next Home Game:
The Flint Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Event Center Wednesday, Jan. 17 to continue 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. Wednesday’s game also marks the fifth “College Night” this season, featuring $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all fans in attendance. All college students with valid identification will also receive $2 off admission.
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 ticketmaster.com here.
For ticket information, flex tickets or group outings, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (810) 701-8536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To book a private suite, please contact Karla Turner at (810) 744-0580 ext. 213 or email email@example.com.
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