Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds wrapped-up their 68-game regular season slate with a comeback effort that was held off by the defending Memorial Cup Champions Saturday night. The Firebirds fell 3-2 to the London Knights before a standing-room only crowd of more than 4,200 fans at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.
JJ Piccinich (Toronto Maple Leafs) opened the scoring for the Knights at 16:00 of the first period after he redirected Sam Miletic’s pass from the left-circle in the slot, beating Connor Hicks for his 25th goal of the season.
London doubled their lead two minutes later when Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) notched his third goal of the season after he rifled a wrist-shot from the left-circle that beat Hicks glove-side. The Knights led 2-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Miletic extended London’s lead to 3-0, 1:47 into the second period after he cleaned-up a rebound in the slot. Hicks made the initial save on Robert Thomas, but Miletic collected the rebound and beat Hicks five-hove for his 37th marker of the season.
The Firebirds cut the deficit to two goals after Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) rifled a wrist-shot from the right-point, going off the right post and into the net for his ninth tally of the season, on the power-play. After assisting on the play, Ryan Moore has 15 points (5G, 10A) in the last 11 games.
Maurizio Colella made it a one-goal game at 11:06 after he deflected former London Knight Kole Sherwood’s (Columbus Blue Jackets) centering pass in the crease for his 18th goal of the season. Sherwood has recorded 18 points (4G, 13A) in his last 11 games. Colella has tallied 14 points (7G, 7A) in his past 15 contests.
Later in the second period, the Firebirds had a prime chance to tie the game on the door-step that Parson’s made a diving save on, blocking the puck out of mid-air with his paddle, leading to London maintaining a 3-2 lead after two periods of play.
After a few late surges by the Firebirds with their netminder pulled, the Knights held-on for a 3-2 victory.
Flint outshot London 44-33. The Firebirds scored once on two chances on the power-play and were a perfect two-for-two on the penalty kill. Colella earned third star honors after scoring his 18th of the season. Hicks made 30 saves on 33 London shots.
Next up, in just their second season in the OHL, the Flint Firebirds will make their first appearance in the OHL Playoffs as the club will face-off against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds for a best-of-seven series in the first round. Game one will be Thursday, Mar. 23 while game two will take place on Saturday, Mar. 25. Puck drop is slated for 7:07 p.m. at the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
Upcoming Playoff Home Games:
The Firebirds will host game three on Monday, Mar. 27 and game four on Wednesday, Mar. 29 at 7 p.m. at the Dort Federal Event Center. If necessary, game six will be played on Sunday Apr. 2 at 4 p.m. (See Firebirds’ 2017 OHL Playoff Schedule Here)
Flint Firebirds 2017 ‘Three-Game Playoff Packages’ and individual game tickets are on sale now! Come #CatchTheFire as the Flint Firebirds make their first run in the OHL Playoffs. The Firebirds’ first two home dates will be during the week of March 27th & will likely be weekday games. Additionally, Flint Firebirds home playoff games will feature $2 beers and $2 hot dogs for all fans in attendance. Season ticket holders that purchase a three-game playoff package will receive free parking and a complimentary limited edition playoff t-shirt. Three game playoff packages start as low as $42.
Photo Credit: Amanda Ray / Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
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