Flint, Mich. – Both CJ Clarke and Hunter Holmes had three point nights and the Firebirds led 4-3 after two periods but the Spirit scored three unanswered goals in the final frame en-route to a 6-4 victory before a capacity crowd at the Firebirds’ official practice facility, Iceland Arenas Friday night.
The visiting Spirit were awarded the first man-advantage opportunity when Kyle Harris received a two-minute minor for hooking at the six-minute mark. The Firebirds’ penalty-kill units looked sharp, and second-year netminder Luke Cavallin made some critical saves in close to maintain the scoreless tie.
Flint opened the scoring on a rebound goal by defenseman Riley McCourt at 9:59 of the first. C.J. Clarke backhanded the puck on net from the slot. Netminder Tristan Lennox made the save, which bounced back to the right circle where McCourt was waiting to score on the rebound. Hunter Holmes picked up his first assist on the evening.
The Spirit answered quickly, scoring just 45 seconds later. Cole Coskey left the puck for Albert Michnac in the slot before Michnac scored gloveside past Luke Cavallin at 10:44 of the first period. Ethan Cardwell was credited with the second assist.
Then at 12:02, Jake Durham caused a turnover in the offensive zone before finding a loose puck in the slot, scoring the go-ahead-goal over the left shoulder. Evan Vierling and CJ Clarke picked up the assists.
Aidan Prueter knotted the score at two on his third tally of the pre-season with just under 90 seconds to play in the opening stanza. The initial shot on goal came from the stick of Michnac, and, after it was tipped by Duncan Penman on its way through the slot, it took an abnormal bounce. It bounced off the crossbar and back in front of the crease where Prueter dove and swung his stick along the ice to Cavallin’s right, knocking it in for the goal.
Flint wasted no time reclaiming the lead in the middle frame, netting a power-play goal just 26 seconds in. Hunter Holmes carried the puck across both blue lines on the left-wing side. He dropped a pass back to C.J. Clarke at the point, who sent it forward to Jack Wismer. He turned and fired a wicked wrister from just inside the left-wing circle that caught Lennox off-guard, beating him far side above the left pad for his second of the pre-season. Clarke and Holmes were credited with the assists.
Hunter Holmes again carried the puck into the zone from the right wing side near the midway point of the middle frame. He skated into slot, where he passed to Jack Phibbs along the right-wing boards. Phibbs centered the puck to a charging Kyle Harris who one-timed it home low, blocker side. The goal was Harris’ first of the pre-season. The Firebird’s had the lead, 4 – 2.
Saginaw swapped netminders at the midway point of the game, replacing Lennox with Cameron Lamour.
The Spirit pulled back within a goal at 13:08 of the second when Danny Katic netted his first of the pre-season from just inside the left-wing circle. Penman and Cole Perfetti set the play up on a couple of short-range passes across the slot. The second period concluded with Flint ahead by a single goal, 4 – 3.
The third period began with the Spirit scoring the tying goal just 36 seconds in. Crisp passing resulted in a tic-tac-goal, scored by Camaryn Baber, his first of the pre-season. Perfetti and Coskey earned the helpers. Just 29 seconds later, Saginaw scored again on another quick passing play in the slot. This time it was Nicholas Porco’s first of the season on a back-door play. The assists went to Michnac and Busdeker.
The Firebird’s had their best shot at a comeback when Jack Wismer streaked in on a breakaway with 7:36 remaining in regulation. He was dragged down by a Spirit defender from behind, resulting in penalty shot. He skated in to the left near face-off dot, then made a couple quick forehand-to-backhand moves as he approached the crease. Lamour was able to extend his right skate to the post and prevent the near-side attempt.
Busdeker capped off the scoring with 4:23 left to play. He carried the puck in left-wing side and fired a wrister that snuck past Cavallin far-side. Firebird’s coaching staff used their time out and pulled Cavallin for the extra attacker with just over a minute to play. Despite the extra effort and a flurry of shots on the opposing netminder, the score remained 6 – 4 in favor of the visitors from Saginaw.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds & Spirit will wrap-up pre-season play Saturday, Sep. 15. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at the Dow Event Center. The game will be broadcast live on the radio on US 103.1 FM & online at www.us103.com.
The Firebirds home opening night will take place on Saturday, Sep. 29. The Firebirds will host the London Knights at 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint. Opening night and single game tickets for the Firebirds’ 2018-19 season are on sale now and can be purchased online at ticketmaster.com here. For questions, fans may call the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office at (810) 744-0580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For media inquiries, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club