Guelph, Ont. – After missing the past 18 games due to injury, Riley McCourt found the back of the net in his return, CJ Clarke also scored for Flint and the Firebirds outshot Guelph 42-37 in an 8-2 deficit to the Guelph Storm in front of nearly 3,800 fans at the Sleeman Centre Friday night.
Guelph logged six goals in the opening frame, initially striking on the game’s first power play at 4:02. Barret Kirwin scored his first of the season from the top of the left circle, assisted by Ryan Merkley (San Jose Sharks) and Dmitri Samorukov (Edmonton Oilers). Just 31 seconds later, Alexey Toropchenko (St. Louis Blues) extended the Storm’s lead to two with a point-blank one-timer that got past netminder Luke Cavallin glove side. Domenico Commisso and Tag Bertuzzi were credited with the helpers. At 8:36 of the first period, Cedric Ralph scored his sixth of the campaign short-handed. Toropchenko and Merkley each picked up their second point of the night with the assists.
Flint’s coaching staff opted to use their time out after the third goal. At the conclusion of the time-out, Emanuel Vella replaced Cavallin between the pipes. Cavallin made five saves on eight shots in 8:36 of action.
The Storm’s fourth goal deflected off a skate in front and took an unusual bounce up and over Vella’s shoulder at 11:00. It was credited as Ralph’s second of the night with assists to Zach Poirier and Kirwin. Cam Hillis (Montreal Canadiens) lit the lamp at 12:09, extending the lead to five. Liam Hawel (Dallas Stars) and Isaac Ratcliffe (Philadelphia Flyers) assisted on the marker.
The Firebirds found their way onto the scoresheet at 15:34 of the first period. Eric Uba carried the puck into the zone on the left-wing side. He found Ethan Keppen at the top of the left circle. Keppen shot far pad to create the eventual rebound where C.J. Clarke quickly redirected the puck past Anthony Popovich for his fourth of the season.
Then, Guelph netted their sixth of the first frame at 17:04. Kirwin earned his second of the game and second of the season, with assists from Ralph and Poirier. Shots on goal after 20 minutes favored the Storm 15-10.
Luke Cavallin got the nod in net again to start the second period. Vella made four saves on seven shots in 11:24.
Poirier scored his first goal and third point of the contest with a rising shot that hit Cavallin’s shoulder and bounced up and over the netminder. It crossed the goal line behind him at 5:34 for Poirier’s fifth of the season. With the helpers, Merkley and Ralph each picked up their third points of the game as well. Next, Ratcliffe scored his first goal and second point of the night at 11:08 to extend Guelph’s lead to 8-1. Hillis and Hawel set up the play, each also earning their second point of the night. Shots on goal were even at 14 per team for two-period totals of 29 for the Storm and 24 for Flint.
Riley McCourt scored on the man-advantage from the slot, top-shelf blocker side for Flint’s second marker at 12:11 of the third period. Holmes earned the lone helper. The Firebirds outshot Guelph 18-8 in the third period.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will travel to Owen Sound for a 7:30 p.m. puck drop Saturday night. The game will be televised live in Owen Sound on channel 53 / 510 (HD) for Rogers TV cable subscribers. In addition, the game will be televised live throughout the province of Ontario on channel 466 for Rogers TV cable subscribers and channel 496 for Cogeco TV cable subscribers. The game will also be broadcast live on the radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and around the world online at www.us103.com.
Photo Credit: Gar FitzGerald / Flint Firebirds
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club