Video: Firebirds Score Power-Play Goal for Seventh Consecutive Game to Secure Franchise Record, Fall 4-3 in Hamilton
Hamilton, Ont. – Despite the Firebirds leading 2-1 after two periods of play, Hamilton used three special teams’ goals and scored the game-winning tally with 51 seconds remaining in the game to earn a 4-3 victory over the Firebirds in front of more than 4,400 fans at the FirstOntario Centre Saturday night.
The Firebirds scored a power-play goal for the seventh consecutive game, breaking the franchise record, which was six consecutive games twice from Nov. 23-Dec. 4th, 2016 and Mar. 3-Mar. 14, 2017.
The lone goal in the opening stanza was scored with 37 seconds remaining in the period just as Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) stepped out of the penalty box and returned Flint to full-strength. From the goal-line on the right side of the Firebirds’ net, MacKenzie Entwistle (Arizona Coyotes) found Nick Caamano (Dallas Stars) in the slot, who found twine blocker-side past Forrest. Hamilton led 1-0 after the first period.
The second period scoring was initiated by the former Hamilton Bulldog and newest Firebird, Riley McCourt. With Hamilton’s Benjamin Gleason in the penalty box for cross-checking, three former Hamilton players connected to set a new Flint Firebirds’ franchise record: A power-play goal in seven consecutive games. Maurizio Colella centered the puck from along the right wall in the Hamilton zone. Connor Roberts collected it and backhanded a pass across the mouth of the goal-crease from the right-wing side. Pinching deep in the zone as a defenseman, Riley McCourt banged it home from point-blank range for his first goal in a Flint uniform at 6:06 of the middle period.
Flint would claim it’s first lead of the game on Jalen Smereck’s (Arizona Coyotes) fifth goal of the season seven minutes later. On a four-man passing-play, Russian native Nikita Alexandrov head-manned the puck to German native Max Kislinger on the left-wing wall in front of the penalty boxes. Kislinger dished it rink-wide to C.J. Clarke on the far wall in front of the benches. Clarke stick-handled the puck deep into the right-side circle, then sent a cross-ice pass back to the left-side point. Jalen Smereck received the pass, steadied the puck and fired a howitzer that beat netminder Kaden Fulcher (Detroit Red Wings) blocker-side, just over his right pad. The goal was Smereck’s fourth point in the past three games.
Flint led in scoring 2-1 and the shots were 17-16 Hamilton after two periods.
Caamano’s line found twine on a Hamilton power-play in the seventh minute of third-period play. The assists, similar to the first goal of the game, came from Entwistle and Kaliyev. Entwistle made a skilled pass off the side of the goal, which redirected to the slot where Caamano was waiting to score his second of the night. The game was knotted at two with less than 13 minutes to play in regulation.
With less than nine minutes to play in the third, Ryan Littlejohn and Jacob Collins entered the offensive zone one a two-on-two. Littlejohn dropped a pass back to Jake Durham, the fifth man into the zone. Durham quickly fired a pass cross-ice to Collins that was right on the money. Collins’ shot beat Fulcher over his right shoulder, blocker-side. The Firebirds had their second lead of the game, 3-2 with 8:33 remaining.
Hamilton would battle back, scoring a short-handed goal to tie the game with less than five minutes to play. Isaac Nurse recorded his 10th of the season, finding an opening between Smereck’s legs, to beat Forrest far-side. The most recently departed Firebird Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Connor Walters earned the assists on the play.
The Firebirds had a great scoring opportunity with just under three minutes on the clock. Ty Dellandrea and Maurizio Colella, the top scorers for Flint this season, found themselves on a two-on-one, short-handed. Dellandrea passed left-to-right across the high slot and Colella one-timed the puck on goal but Fulcher, sliding right-to-left was over in time to make the save and conserve the tie.
With less than one minute to play, the Bulldogs managed to break the tie and reclaim the lead on another power-play goal. Brandon Saigeon scored his 24th goal of the season, assisted by Will Bitten (Montreal Canadiens) and Robert Thomas (St. Louis Blues). Flint would use their timeout and pull Forrest for the extra attacker, but to no avail. For the fifth time in the past six meetings, the outcome of the game between these teams was determined by one goal.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will travel to Erie, Penn. for a 5 p.m. tilt at the Erie Insurance Arena Sunday afternoon. Radio pre-game coverage with Dominic Hennig will begin at 4:30 p.m. on US 103.1 FM in Flint and Mid-Michigan and online at www.us103.com. The game will also be televised live province-wide throughout Ontario on the OHL Action Pak on channel 455 for Rogers TV and Cogeco TV cable subscribers.
Photo Credit: Keith Dotson / OHL Pucks & Stripes
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