Video: Firebirds’ Rally to Tie Saturday, Fall 4-3 to London
Flint, Mich. – Despite scoring the first goal of the game and rallying back to tie the contest at three in the second period, the Firebirds dropped a tough 4-3 decision to the London Knights in front of a near capacity crowd of 3,930 at the Dort Federal Event Center Saturday. Both Maurizio Colella and Ty Dellandrea extended their point streaks to five games with a goal each, Hunter Holmes scored his fourth goal in the last four games and goaltender Luke Cavallin made 24 saves on 28 shots. On special teams, Flint killed five of six penalties and scored a power-play goal.
Maurizio Colella lit-the-lamp and erupted the crowd just 29 seconds into the game. He picked the pocket of a London player in the Flint zone and rocketed up the left-wing wall. He carried the puck across the London blue line and into the offensive zone. From the top of the circle he fired the first shot of the game. It was a wrister that snuck between the pads of netminder Jordan Kooy for Colella’s 23rd of the season. Colella extended his point streak to five games on the goal.
Then, at 15:44 of the first period, Alex Formenton (Ottawa Senators) buried a snap shot from the face-off dot in the left-wing circle that found twine top-shelf far side. The tally came just six seconds after the Knights returned to full strength after a high-sticking penalty. It was Formenton’s 26th of the season and first of the night, unassisted.
After 20 minutes of play, the score was tied at one per side. Shots on goal favored the visitors from London 14 – 8. The Firebirds had successfully killed off two penalties during the opening frame.
Formenton gave the Knights their first lead of the contest early in the second period. He carried the puck across both blue lines, shaking off a Flint defender as he entered the Firebirds’ zone. He fired a shot from point-blank range that snuck past Cavallin, shortside. Cole Tymkin and Alec Regula earned the assists on the play.
Formenton would strike again at 7:11 of the middle stanza for a natural hat trick from the left circle. The power-play goal was his third of the night and 28th of the season. Evan Bouchard and Liam Foudy picked up the helpers.
Ty Dellandrea pulled the Firebirds back within one on a back-door play that resulted in his team-leading 27th of the season. Marcus Gretz sent a tape-to-tape pass from the outer edge of the left-wing circle to Dellandrea, who was perched just to the right of the goal crease. Before the goalie could reset, Dellandrea deflected the pass into the cage for Flint’s second marker of the night at 15:50. Gretz and Ryan Littlejohn assisted on the marker.
Moments later the Firebirds tied the game with one second remaining on the man-advantage. Jalen Smereck fired a slapper from the point, Kooy made the save, and C.J. Clarke sent the rebound back to Smereck at the point. The same cycle then repeated with the same result. After firing two shots that were both saved by Kooy, Smereck opted to pass to Hunter Holmes at the left side of the crease on the third opportunity. Holmes showed patience and out-waited the netminder. Once Kooy dove to make the save, Holmes lifted the puck top shelf for his 10th of the season. Smereck and Clarke picked up the assists on the tying marker scored at 19:02.
After two periods of play, the Firebirds held the edge in shots 27 – 21. London was one-for-four on the power play and Flint scored on one of three chances with the man advantage.
London reclaimed the lead at 6:45 of the third when Connor McMichael picked up a loose puck behind the Firebird’s net and sent a backhander toward the slot. The puck deflected off Fedor Gordeev’s (Toronto Maple Leafs) shin pad and into the Firebirds’ goal past Cavallin to give the Knights a 4 – 3 lead and the eventual game-winning goal. The tally was McMichael’s eighth of the season. Sergey Popov was credited with the solo assist.
Flint pulled Cavallin to bench for the extra attacker near the 19-minute mark of the final frame. The extra attacker came on and the Firebirds retained possession in the offensive zone for nearly the entire final minute of play. However, the puck stayed out of the net and the Knights picked up their 38th win of the season. Final shots favored the Firebirds 39 – 28.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will host the Owen Sound Attack this Wednesday, Mar. 14 for the final “College Night” of the 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. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.
Photo Credit: Danen Williams / Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
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