Windsor, Ont. – The Spitfires jumped out to a 3-0 lead Thursday night but the Firebirds scored three-unanswered goals in the middle frame to tie the contest. Windsor recorded the game winning tally in the third period en-route to a 4-3 victory in front of more than 3,300 fans at the WFCU Centre. Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) earned two points in his season debut. Recently-acquired Cody Morgan picked up an assist against his former club in his 100th career OHL game. Emmet Pierce was acquired from the London Knights earlier in the day, and scored his first OHL goal in his first OHL game. Between the pipes, Emanuel Vella made 21 saves on 25 shots.
Plymouth, Mich. native Luke Boca scored the only marker of the first period at 11:17. From high between the circles he released a quick snap-shot that went just under the crossbar for his sixth of the season, unassisted. The Spitfires held the edge in first-period shots 12-10.
At 4:41 of the second period, Jean-Luc Foudy was awarded a penalty shot. He skated directly in on Vella and lifted a wrister just inside the post, blocker-side, for his third of the campaign. At 7:51, Nathan Staios logged his third of the season. He collected a short-range pass from Daniel D’Amico and blasted a heavy slapper from just inside the blue line along the left-wing wall. The shot made its way through traffic and found twine far-side. Cole Purboo was credited with the second assist.
The Firebirds’ coaching staff opted to use their one time out after the Spitfires’ third goal. It appeared to pay off, as the team scored the next three unanswered to tie the game. First, while short-handed Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) intercepted the puck in the defensive zone. He sent a long pass along the right-wing wall to Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) past center ice. With his back to the play, Dellandrea made a short-range backhanded pass to Jacob Winterton in-stride as he crossed the offensive blue line. With two defenders in tow, Winterton crossed between the circles, settled the puck on his stick, and fired a wrister far side, mid-height that beat netminder Kari Piiroinen glove side for his eighth of the season.
In his 100th career OHL game, newly-acquired Cody Morgan contributed to the Firebirds’ second goal against his former club. He stole the puck from a Windsor rearguard at the left circle and quickly dished it across the circles. Ethan Keppen was poised at the bottom of the right circle for a one-timer, back-door. The goal was Keppen’s 13th of the season and third goal in the past four games, scored at 13:40. Jack Wismer was credited with the second assist. At 17:13, Emmet Pierce scored his first career OHL goal in his first OHL game. Hunter Holmes gathered the puck deep in the right-wing corner and sent a pass back to Dennis Busby at the point. Busby wound back and fired on net, where Pierce was able to bang home the rebound past Kari Piiroinen. It was tied 3-3 after the middle frame. Second period shots were 12-9 to Flint’s advantage, for a 40-minute edge of 22-21.
At 13:11 of the third period, Windsor’s top-scoring rookie Will Cuylle netted his 18th of the season on a quick one-timer from the left-circle range. Curtis Douglas (Dallas Stars) and Foudy picked up the assists. The Firebirds pulled Vella to the bench for the extra attacker with three minutes remaining, but to no avail. The Spitfires held on for the 4-3 triumph, evening the season series at two wins each. Flint outshot Windsor 33-25 in the game, and both teams were unable to score in two power-play opportunities. Busby was awarded second-star honors in his season debut.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Event Center Friday night for a 7 p.m. puck drop against the Hamilton Bulldogs. Friday continues the “Firebirds Fight Hunger” month. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to the Firebirds’ merchandise store, The Birds Nest, at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a complimentary Silver Level ticket, courtesy of Dort Federal Credit Union, AMD Urgent Care, Captain’s Quarters Lounge, Little Caesars Pizza and Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) Flint.
Photo Credit: Keith Dotson / OHL Pucks & Stripes
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