Erie, Penn. – Five different Firebirds lit-the-lamp and six Flint players recorded a multi-point game en-route to a 7-4 victory over the Erie Otters Wednesday night. Hunter Holmes scored two goals in his first game back after missing 23 straight due to illness. Connor Roberts also scored twice in the contest and earned ‘Second-Star’ honors. Ty Dellandrea and Jack Wismer each had three-point nights. Luke Cavallin played an impressive game between-the-pipes, earning the win with 27 saves on 31 shots for the Firebirds’ third straight victory.
The Firebirds were first to find twine at 13:20 of the first period. Maurizio Colella blocked a shot in the defensive end and streaked up ice, crossing the blue line up the left-wing side. He attempted a shot on goal but an Erie defender lifted his stick, causing the puck to slide behind the net. With both of Erie’s defenseman chasing Maurizio behind the goal, he sent the puck to Ty Dellandrea who was left all alone in the slot. Ty one-timed the puck past Daniel Murphy short-side for his 26th of the season.
Hunter Holmes would find the back of the net next with his eighth of the season and first of the night at 16:42. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) fired a long slapper from just inside the blue line that was saved by rookie netminder Daniel Murphy. C.J. Clarke was able to pick up the rebound and make a backhand pass across the slot to Holmes who caught the sprawling goaltender before he was able to reset.
Erie scored next to cut their deficit in half on a coast-to-coast play by Owen Headrick with the man-advantage at 17:40. The rookie goalie Murphy was credited with the lone assist, which was his first point in the OHL on his 24th appearance of the season. His pass to Headrick was carried across both blue lines and into the Flint zone, where the Firebirds’ defender was beat at the top of the left-wing circle. Headrick continued to the bottom of the circle where his backhanded shot snuck five-hole between Luke Cavallin’s pads and into the net. It was Headrick’s 12th of the season.
After 20 minutes of play, the Firebirds led 2 – 1. The shot clock showed a slight edge for Flint by a margin of 12 – 11.
Flint reclaimed their two-goal lead early in the middle frame. Connor Roberts found paydirt from the top of the right-wing circle when he sniped a precision shot over the right shoulder of Murphy for his 17th of the campaign. Dellandrea took a hit under a delayed penalty to maintain possession in the offensive zone. He slid the puck down low to Colella who sent a quick pass back up to Roberts at the top of the right circle. Dellandrea and Colella each picked up their second point of the night with the assists.
It appeared that Erie scored another power play goal just over nine minutes into the second period but a video review helped the officials determine that the play was offside. The goal was disallowed, and the Firebirds were able to kill off the balance of the penalty to keep the advantage on the scoreboard 3 – 1.
Ethan Keppen added another insurance goal at the time, scoring his ninth of the season at 14:18 of the second. Jack Wismer muscled through a hit in the right-wing corner before dishing a perfect pass to Keppen in the slot, who was ready and waiting to one-time it into the net blocker side. Kyle Harris earned the second assist on the goal.
The Otters’ Kyle Maksimovich would get his 28th of the season at 17:59. He carried the puck into the Flint zone along the right-wing boards, then stopped on a dime and chipped the puck airborne over the sticks of two Firebirds’ defenders. He darted to the open space between the circles and fired a wrister over Cavallin’s right shoulder.
With just 47 seconds remaining in the second period, Emmett Sproule picked up his fifth of the campaign. The left-hander carried the puck up the gut of the Firebirds’ zone on a two-on-one, using a shoulder shake to shed his defender. He fired a shot that found a seam over Cavallin’s right pad.
At the end of the middle frame, Flint held onto a one-goal lead, 4 – 3. Second-period shots favored the visiting Firebirds 14 – 10 for a two-period edge of 26 – 21.
The Otters evened the score at four on the tail end of a man-advantage just over three minutes into the third period. Kyle Maksimovich passed toward the slot from the far right-wing boards. The pass travelled through four bodies in the crease and slipped all the way to the left-wing boards untouched. As the puck bounced back into the left-wing circle, Gera Poddubnyi stepped into a one-timer to tie the contest. The tally was Poddubnyi’s 15th of the season, assisted by Maksimovich and Headrick.
Riley McCourt lit-the-lamp 1:01 later to earn Flint a one-goal lead again and the eventual game-winning goal at 4:05 of the third period. Wismer made a pass from down low in the right corner that McCourt picked up just inside the blue line. Riley skated between the circles and fired a wrist shot past Murphy glove-side, top-shelf for his fifth of the season. Wismer and Harris each earned their second points of the contest with the assists.
Roberts notched his second goal of the night at 10:22 of the final frame to reestablish the Firebirds’ two-goal lead. Dellandrea carried the puck into the offensive zone on the left side. In highlight fashion, he skated to the middle of the left circle, then shook off both of the Erie defenders and crossed into the slot. As the netminder Murphy followed Dellandrea, Roberts skated straight into the slot. Ty dropped the puck back for Roberts to easily one-time the disc into the net. With the solo assist, Dellandrea picked up his third point of the contest.
The final marker on the scoresheet was Holmes’ second of the night and ninth of the season at 16:05. From the right-wing corner, Holmes sprung free and headed straight toward the slot. Wismer dished the puck to Holmes at the goal line who faked a short-side shot that earned the commitment of Murphy. He maintained possession and put it home far-side past the diving goaltender to increase the Firebirds’ lead to 7 – 4. Wismer earned his third point of the night with his third assist. The final shots-on-goal favored Flint 33 – 31.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will travel to St. Catherines Ont., Wednesday night for a Thursday evening match against the Niagara IceDogs. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Meridian Centre. The game will be televised live in Niagara on YourTV channel 10 / 700 (HD) for Cogeco TV cable subscribers and across the province of Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 435 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 476 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.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club