Saginaw, Mich. – Three different Firebirds recorded goals and two different Firebirds saw action in net but Flint could not hang on, eventually falling 4-3 to the Saginaw Spirit at the Dow Event Center Saturday night.
Flint jumped to the early lead when Jack Wismer gained control of a loose puck in the offensive zone and slid a forward pass from the high slot, past the lone Spirit defender to Evan Vierling in front of the crease. The first-round draft selection of the Firebirds in the 2018 Priority Selection faked to his right before firing a wrist-shot low to the blocker side, beating Lamour, for his first goal of the pre-season at 3:15.
The lead was extended to two when Eric Uba sent a cross-ice pass from the left point to Riley McCourt inside the right-wing circle. McCourt deked around a defender and slid the puck into the crease where Kyle Harris redirected it behind Lamour’s outstretched left pad, near side. The tally came with 4:08 remaining in the opening frame, and was Harris’ second marker of the pre-season.
With 20 minutes in the books, the Firebirds held a 2 – 0 lead. Saginaw outshot Flint 10 – 7, but the stellar play of sophomore netminder Luke Cavallin kept the Spirit off the scoreboard.
The Spirit were quick to produce some offense early in the second period. Duncan Penman fired a shot from the bottom of the right-wing circle that Cavallin was able to stop. DJ Busdecker pounced on the rebound, slapping it behind the Flint goaltender into the far side of the net from Cavallin’s right.
Spirit rearguard Mason Millman tied the game at 8:38 of the middle stanza with a hard shot from the left point that found its way to the twine short-side. Hayden Davis and Ryan Stepien picked up the helpers.
During a stoppage in play near the ten-minute mark of the second period Tristan Lennox replaced Cameron Lamour in the Saginaw goal and Evan Morrison replaced Cavallin in net for Flint.
Five minutes later, Flint would break the tie on a goal by defenseman Riley McCourt. In a highlight-reel play, McCourt took a point-to-point pass from C.J. Clarke and made his way to the high slot with a shoulder shake and a spin-o-rama around a Spirit forward before firing the puck into the net. McCourt’s second of the pre-season, assisted by the OHL’s second-most leader in points this preseason, Clarke (9pts).
With 40 minutes in the book, Flint held the 3 – 2 lead in Saginaw. Shots on goal favored the Spirit 10 – 5 in the second, for a two-period advantage of 20 – 12.
Once again, Saginaw found paydirt early in the period; this time the third. Davis scored his first goal of the preseason 48 seconds into the final frame of regulation. The marker was assisted by Cole Perfetti and Aiden Prueter.
Saginaw claimed their first lead of the game on a late wrap-around goal by Albert Michnac, his second of the pre-season. He joined the play at left point, then skated around behind the net from Morrison’s right to left. He tucked the puck just inside the right post at 15:53. Danny Katic and Camaryn Baber we credited with the assists.
For the second consecutive game, the Firebirds would use their one allowed time-out and pull the netminder for the extra attacker late. Unable to solve Lennox, the Firebirds would conclude the 2018-19 season with a 2-3-0-0 record. Final shots favored the home squad 34 – 21.
The Firebirds will begin their regular season with a three-game road trip, beginning with a visit to the Kitchener Rangers this Friday, Sept 21. The next day Flint will travel to Erie, Penn. for a Saturday night tilt with the Otters. Finally, they will visit the Sarnia Sting in Sarnia, Ont. on Friday, Sept 28 before returning to the Dort Federal Event Center for opening night on Saturday, Sept 29.
The Firebirds will host the London Knights at 7 p.m. (ET). 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.
Photo Credit: Eric Young / Saginaw Spirit
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