Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds held the lead for all but 2:58 of the 60-minute regulation Saturday night. The Erie Otters eventually tied the contest using an empty-net extra attacker with 11 seconds remaining. In the contest, Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) scored twice for the second consecutive game, eventually earning him ‘Third-Star’ honors in the contest. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs), Jake Durham and Jack Phibbs also netted goals. Netminder Emanuel Vella made 27 saves on 33 shots. For the visiting Otters, Peter Cajka scored his first-career hat-trick and second three-point game of the season.
Fedor Gordeev was the first to find twine, scoring his third goal of the season just 3:06 into the first period. He carried the puck through the neutral zone and across the blue line along the left-wing boards, beating a defender and cutting toward the front of the net. There he made a move on the netminder and backhanded it in under Noah Battaglia’s left pad. Vladislav Kolyachonok earned the assist for setting up the play.
Ty Dellandrea extended the early lead for the ‘Birds. Jake Durham freed the puck from his battle with an Erie forward. He sent it directly to Ty Dellandrea as he was breaking out of the zone. As he crossed into the offensive zone, Dellandrea fired a wide-angle shot from the outer part of the right-wing circle that surprised goaltender Noah Battaglia low glove-side.
At 10:36, the Otters found twine to pull within one. Peter Cajka dropped to one knee to the right of the crease to one-time a pass back-door behind Emanuel Vella. The goal was his 10th of the season and first of the night, assisted by Maxim Golod and Kyle Maksimovich.
Jake Durham extended the lead back to a pair at the 12:25 mark, picking up his team-leading 16th of the season. Ethan Keppen carried up the middle of the neutral zone and flicked a pass to Durham on the right-wing side. Durham rifled a snap-shot on the ice that beat Battaglia five-hole. Keppen was credited with the lone helper. Erie replaced Battaglia with the veteran netminder Daniel Murphy. Battaglia made three saves on six shots.
Cajka cut the Otters’ deficit to a single goal again at 14:36, redirecting a slapshot past Vella for his second of the night and 11th of the campaign. Kurtis Henry earned the first assist with the shot from the point, and Maksimovich picked up his second point with the second assist.
Dellandrea struck again at 16:58, unassisted. As an Erie defender carried backward into his own zone, Dellandrea picked his pocket with a burst of speed. He carried between the circles and forced the puck past Murphy under his outstretched left pad. After 20 minutes of play, Flint led the game 4-2, and shots-on-goal were even at 10 per side.
Erie narrowed the margin once again, scoring at 9:12 of the middle frame. Gera Poddubnyi scored his team-leading 14th of the season off a rebound. Danial Singer took the initial shot on net from the right, resulting in an assist for him.
Alex Gritz tied the game at four with his fourth of the season at 16:12 of the center stanza. The defenseman Ryan Martin and Jamie Drysdale collected the helpers.
Jack Phibbs put the ‘Birds back on top with a shot from below the goal line in the left-wing corner. Jacob Winterton sent the puck into the corner from near the half-wall. Phibbs immediately spun and threw the puck at Murphy’s feet, for his third marker of the campaign at 18:59 of the second period. With 40 minutes in the books, the Firebirds were leading 5-4 on the scoreboard. The shot-clock showed Erie with the advantage, 23-21.
The third period featured great end-to-end hockey, and even better goaltending on both ends of the ice. With a stoppage of play in the final minute of regulation, Erie used their one timeout of the contest. Murphy remained on the bench after the strategy session, giving the Otters a manpower advantage in Flint’s zone. The visitors won the draw and maintained possession in Flint’s end and eventually tied the game with only 11 seconds on the third-period clock. Petr Cajka completed his hat-trick (three-goals), with assists from Jack Duff and Drysdale. At the end of regulation, the game was knotted at 5-5. Shots favored the visitors from Pennsylvania 31-29.
The five-minute, three-on-three overtime lasted 2:01. Drysdale showed patience in Flint’s offensive zone, out-waiting Vella before finding the top corner, blocker side. The goal was Drysdale’s second of the season and third point of the night. Both teams generated two shots in the extra frame.
Next Home Game:
Sunday, the Firebirds welcome the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for a ‘Family Sunday “FUN”day.’ Come enjoy the holiday spirit and get your picture taken with Santa Claus. There will also be a DIY ornament designing station, while supplies last. Every Sunday Firebirds’ home game is a Family “FUN”day featuring up to 2 free kids tickets with the purchase of an adult ticket, as well as a post-game ‘skate with Firebirds players,’ and an autograph signing session with Firebirds players following the game.
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 Credit Union Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
Photo Credit: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club