Flint, Mich. – After allowing two early goals in the first period, the Firebirds came within one, twice, in the contest but were unable to solve the 60-team Canadian Hockey League’s (CHL) second-rank London Knights in front of 3,854 fans at the Dort Federal Event Center. With the 4-2 victory, London becomes the first team to beat Flint on their Opening Night in four seasons.
Ethan Keppen and Jake Durham lit the lamp for the Firebirds. Flint netminder Luke Cavallin stopped all 20 shots faced after relieving starter Emanuel Vella. In the face-off circle, Flint won 22 of 36 puck-drops.
Grand Blanc, Mich. native Dalton Duhart started the scoring for the Knights at 10:18. London’s Billy Moskal slid the puck from the goal line to Duhart at the left circle, who scored far-side past Vella to earn London the initial lead. Plymouth, Mich. native Antonio Stranges earned the second assist. The Knights increased their lead to two 1:06 later when Connor McMichael found the back of the net, skating past a Firebirds’ defender on the right-wing and scoring far-side, blocker-side.
A pair of newcomers contributed to Flint’s first goal, cutting the deficit in half at 17:53. Jacob Winterton passed from the left wall to Evan Vierling perched down-low to the right of netminder Jordan Kooy (Vegas Golden Knights). Vierling sent a perfect tape-to-tape pass across the mouth of the crease to Jake Durham, who was poised and ready to one time the puck home low, glove-side, for his first of the season.
The visitors struck again with 1:07 remaining in the first when Cole Tymkin fired the puck on goal from the slot which caromed off Vella’s glove and into the net. Liam Foudy (Columbus Blue Jackets) was credited with the helper. The first period ended with London on top 3-1. Shots on goal were also tilted in favor of the visitors, 10-5. Flint controlled the face-off circles, leading 8 – 2 over the first 20 minutes.
The Firebirds’ second-year goaltender Luke Cavallin entered the contest to start the middle frame. Flint pulled within one when Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) fired the puck wide of the net to Kooy’s left. The puck took a funny bounce off the end boards and back into the slot. Firebirds’ forward Ethan Keppen was first to the puck and out-waited Kooy with patience before scoring on a backhand shot top shelf at 16:13. It would be the only marker in the second period, resulting in a one-goal game after 40 minutes of play. London again held the edge in shots, 12-10 for a two-period advantage of 22-15.
Both goaltenders stood tall in the third period, stopping everything that came their way. London used their time-out with just under two minutes to play in regulation. Shortly after, Flint called Cavallin to the bench for the extra attacker. London’s Foudy took a pass from Timms and scored on an empty net wrap-around play to conclude the scoring with a 4-2 edge in favor of the Knights. London finished with the lead in shots 31-23.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds will return to the Dort Federal Event Center this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. for the first of eight games against the Saginaw Spirit this season in the Coors Light I-75 Divide Cup. It’s also the first of seven ‘Winning Wednesday’ games! The Firebirds offer amazing deals for all of their Wednesday home games: Featuring $2 Beers, $2 Hot Dogs, $2 Pop Corn. Every time the Firebirds win at home on a Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday home game.
All 34 individual game tickets for the Firebirds’ 2018-19 season are on sale now and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com here. Single game tickets are $12 for bronze, $16 for silver, $20 for gold and $26 for VIP seating.
Photo Credit: Rena Laverty / Flint Firebirds
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club