Mississauga, Ont. – The Flint Firebirds were unable to score in a 4 – 0 defeat to the Mississauga Steelheads before more than 4,000 fans at the Hershey Centre Monday afternoon. Luke Cavallin played solid in goal, making 33 saves on 37 shots faced.
The two teams combined for 36 penalty minutes in the tilt, including two separate Fighting majors assessed to both sides each in the first period. Bodies were sacrificed to block shots, gloves were dropped and a 5-on-3 man-advantage for the Fish was effectively killed by Flint’s special-teams. At the conclusion of the first period the game remained a scoreless tie. Shots on goal were dead even at 9 – 9.
Mississauga was first to light the lamp, taking the lead at 4:05 of the middle frame. Mathieu Foget carried the puck behind the Flint net from the right-wing to the left-wing, and made a wraparound attempt to Cavallin’s glove side. The Flint netminder hugged the post with his right pad, but the rebound bounced out between the circles. Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers) found the puck in the high slot and beat Cavallin between his pad and glove for his 26th of the season. Foget and Ryan McLeod picked up the assists.
With 40 seconds to play in the middle frame, Ryan McLeod was robbed from point-blank range by an outstretched left pad from the Flint goaltender. Cavallin saw a breakaway taking shape as McLeod streaked into the Firebirds zone a half-step ahead of the defense. As the Mississauga forward deked from his forehand to his backhand across the slot, Cavallin calmly dropped to the butterfly and then had to stretch his left pad back to hug the post in a display of athleticism, closing the gap just in time to blank the shot. Flint was outshot in the middle frame 16 – 10, for a two-period shot deficit of 25 – 19.
Just over two minutes into the final stanza, Flint inadvertently cleared the puck over the boards from their defensive end, resulting in a 2:00 minor for delay of game. Mississauga scored on the ensuing power-play opportunity, their third chance of the contest. Mathieu Foget earned his second point of the game and 18th goal of the season on a back-door play. Trent Fox passed from the right side the the left-wing circle, where Foget was able to beat the diving Luke Cavallin. The assists went to Fox and Ryan McLeod.
The Steelheads extended the lead to three when Adam Varga picked the pocket of a falling defender in his offensive zone and fired a shot high over Cavallin’s left shoulder with 9:27 remaining in the game. The goal was the first of his career for the 16-year-old rookie forward from Bel Air, Maryland. There was no assist on the tally.
The final goal of the contest came with just over five minutes left in regulation. Jalen Smereck carried the puck out out of the defensive zone, but lost an edge and slipped to the ice at his own blue line. The result was a breakaway for Fox, who took a shot from point-blank range. Cavallin made the initial save but the rebound trickled toward the left-wing circle. Rushing in on the play was one member of each squad. As they tangled, Little slapped at the puck, which deflected off a defender’s skate and into the back of the net. The final shots on goal favored the Steelheads 37 – 29.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds return to the the Dort Federal Event Center for back-to-back home games this Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game against the Sarnia Sting is EMS Appreciation Night. Both home games this weekend are the final two of February’s HAP “Boots for Kids” donation drive. Fans who donate a new pair of boots to the Firebirds’ Merchandise Store will receive a complimentary sponsored silver level ticket.
Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 / Bronze, $16 / Silver, $20 / Gold and $26 / VIP seating (Seating Chart). All seats are reserved / assigned seating. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (810) 744-0580, in-person at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
Photo Credit: Danen Williams / Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club