North Bay, Ont. – The Firebirds picked up a point in an overtime thriller against the Battalion in North Bay Thursday night. Ethan Keppen scored twice for Flint and added an assist, earning ‘Third-Star’ honors. Cody Morgan and Jack Wismer also had a three-point game, each scoring once and assisting on two tallies. Riley McCourt extended his point streak to six games. Between the pipes, Emanuel Vella stopped 35 of 40 shots. On special teams, Flint scored once in four chances with the man advantage while holding North Bay’s power play to one goal in five opportunities. For the Battalion, Justin Brazeau led the way with a hat trick and an assist. Luke Burghardt also had a four-point game, scoring once and assisting on three of North Bay’s goals.
The Firebirds lit the lamp early, scoring just 3:40 into the game. Ty Dellandrea emerged out of his defensive end on a three-on-two rush with Hunter Holmes and Ethan Keppen. Dellandrea carried along the left-wing boards outside the circle before flipping a backhand pass to Keppen in the high slot. As Holmes crashed the net, Keppen snapped a shot that went off the right post and in for his 21st of the season. A few minutes later, North Bay emerged on a two-on-one break the other direction. Luke Burghardt skated up the right side with patience before passing to Matthew Struthers, who one-timed it just inside the left post to tie the game at 8:11. The goal was his 23rd of the campaign.
Just past the 14-minute mark of the first period, Keppen carried the puck behind the Battalion’s netminder Christian Propp before sending it into heavy traffic out front. The puck bounced around briefly before Cody Morgan banged it home for his sixth of the season at 14:04. Jack Wismer and Keppen picked up the helpers. Flint held on for the 2 – 1 lead after 20 minutes.
First-period shots were even at 10 per side. Face-offs were tied at nine wins each. Each team had one scoreless opportunity on the power-play, as well.
North Bay evened the score 49 seconds into the middle frame. Flint netminder Emanuel Vella made a big save on a three-on-one rush by the Battalion, but then Justin Brazeau found an opening over Vella’s right shoulder from the top of the left circle. The goal was Brazeau’s 46th of the season, assisted by Struthers and Burghardt.
Jack Wismer scored the first power-play goal of the game, earning the Firebirds a 3 – 2 lead at 14:31. Cody Morgan fired a slapper on goal from the left point, but Propp made the save. Wismer was able to lift the rebound over the diving netminder from the bottom of the right circle for his 12th of the season, assisted by Morgan and Riley McCourt. Flint’s lead doubled at 19:18 when a backhand shot by Wismer bounced off Propp’s right pad, then hit Keppen’s equipment before settling into the back of the cage. Keppen was credited with his second goal and third point of the night, assisted by Wismer and Morgan. After 40 minutes, Flint led 4-2 but the Battalion held the slight edge in shots 21 – 19.
The Battalion scored twice in the third period to force overtime. First, Brazeau scored gloveside on an all-out breakaway at 4:25, assisted by Burghardt and Nick King. Then Burghardt scored his sixth of the season with 5:08 remaining on the power play. Brazeau and King picked up the helpers. At the end of regulation, shots-on-goal were 38 – 30 in favor of the Battalion.
The game-winner was scored at 3:34 of the five-minute overtime. Brazeau earned the hat trick in extra time, scoring from the right circle, farside, for his third of the night from the high slot. Brad Chenier and King assisted on the game’s final goal.
North Bay generated two shots on net in the extra frame, compared to one for the Firebirds. The Battalion won 38 of 65 face-offs in the contest.
Next, Flint will travel to Sudbury for a Friday night tilt with Wolves beginning at 7 p.m.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a 7 p.m. tilt next Friday, Feb. 15 against the Oshawa Generals. Friday marks the second-annual ‘Credit Union Night.’ All fans with a Credit Union debit or credit card (or proof of membership) can buy one ticket and get one ticket free for all price levels at the box office. Friday is also a ‘4 Pack Friday,’ featuring (4) tickets, (4) hot dogs and (4) soft drinks, starting at just $60.
Additionally, Friday is the Firebirds annual ‘Talk Today’ game. The Flint Firebirds, the Ontario Hockey League and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Windsor Essex County Branch are teaming up to raise awareness about the importance of mental health. A CMHA-run kiosk along with McLaren Flint, Genesee Health System and Helping Hand Autism Services will have tables set up to encourage discussion on the arena concourse so fans can learn more about mental health. Pictures featuring Flint Firebirds players promoting the importance of mental health, including public address announcements and video board messages will be played throughout the event.
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: Tom Martineau, BayToday.ca
For more information:
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club