Video: Firebirds’ Three-Game Winning-Streak Snapped in Saginaw Saturday
Saginaw, Mich. – A lot of things went right for the Flint Firebirds in Saginaw on Saturday. Ty Dellandrea extended his point-streak to five games, having tallied five goals and four assists for nine points in that time. Maurizio Colella (2G, 2A), Jalen Smereck (4A) and Connor Roberts (2G, 2A) each extended their point-streaks to four games. Between the pipes, Garrett Forrest made 30 saves on 33 shots. On special teams, Flint scored two power-play goals on four attempts. The Firebirds have now scored at least one man-advantage goal in 14 of their past 17 games, including four straight. In the end, however, it was the Spirit that emerged with 3 – 2 victory in front of a sellout crowd of more than 5,400 fans at the Dow Event Center.
The Spirit were first to light the lamp 9:15 into the first period. From inside the right-wing circle, Camaryn Baber shot low. Garrett Forrest made the pad save but the rebound went to the slot where Ryan Stepien was there to beat a diving Forrest for his eighth of the season, assisted by Baber and Nicholas Porco.
The Firebirds thought they had evened the score with just over three minutes remaining in the opening frame. Maurizio Colella made contact with a rebound just outside the goal crease, which the ref deemed illegal. He indicated that the goal was intentionally pushed in with a gloved hand, which is not allowed. The play was not reviewed, thus bringing the face-off to the neutral zone.
Off the face-off, Riley McCourt found Maurizio Colella with a pass to the left-wing wall. Colella made a perfect pass that beat two Spirit defenders and found the stick of Ty Dellandrea in the slot. Dellandrea beat goaltender Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils), through the five-hole. For Dellandrea, it was his team-leading 22nd of the season. McCourt and Colella earned the assists.
DJ Busdeker reclaimed the lead for Saginaw 30 seconds later, scoring his seventh of the season off a rebound in the slot. Marcus Crawford and Damien Giroux picked up the assists. The first period ended with the Spirit leading 2 – 1. Shots on goal favored Flint 12 – 10.
With their third man-advantage of the game, Saginaw generated a power-play goal to extend the lead to two. Marcus Crawford fired a slapshot from the blue line. Forrest dropped to the butterfly at the outer edge of his crease and made the pad save. The rebound found Mason Kohn to the right of the net, and he was able to easily slip the puck into the open goal before Forrest could reset. The goal was Kohn’s 15th of the season, assisted by Crawford and Stepien.
With 2:38 to play in the middle frame, Maurizio Colella picked up his 18th goal of the season on the power-play. Jalen Smereck received a pass at the left point. He found room to skate in to the top of the circle, where he fired a shot. Cormier made the save, but the rebound went right to Connor Roberts to the left side of the crease. Roberts made a backhand pass across the slot to Colella who banged it home.
With 4:38 remaining in regulation, Stepien had an all-out breakaway on Forrest. Nikita Alexandrov chased him down from behind, knocking him down on the defensive play. The referee awarded a penalty shot to Stepien. He tried a forehand shot from the high slot that hit the post to Forrest’s left, keeping the Flint deficit at one.
Forrest was pulled for the extra attacker with less than 90 seconds remaining in the third. Despite generating shots with traffic in front of Cormier’s crease, the late surge came up empty. Saginaw won 3 – 2. The final shots on goal favored the Spirit 33 – 31.
Photo Credit: Natalie Shaver / OHL Pucks & Stripes
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