Windsor, Ont. – Cody Morgan scored two goals, including the game-winner in a shootout against his former team en-route to a 4-3 victory over the Windsor Spitfires in front of 4,923 fans Thursday night. Evan Vierling scored short-handed and earned an assist and Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) scored his first goal of the season. Emanuel Vella made 40 saves on 43 shots in one of his best performances of the season. For Windsor, Curtis Douglas (Dallas Stars) had a two-point night (1G, 1A) to lead the offensive charge.
With the victory, Flint is now 4-1-1-0 in their last six games and have earned nine out of a possible 12 points. The Firebirds finished the season series 4-2-0-0 against Windsor.
Flint scored the only goal of the opening frame. While shorthanded, Evan Vierling stripped a Spitfire in the neutral zone to spring himself for a breakaway from the red line in. The first-year leftie pulled the puck to his forehand and lifted a mid-height wrister over Colton Incze’s right pad, just inside the left post. The short-handed tally was Vierling’s sixth of the season, unassisted, at 15:21 of the first period.
Windsor led in shots 11 – 6 after 20 minutes.
Vierling set up the game’s second goal early in period two. He picked up a loose puck in his defensive zone and hit Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) in stride as he crossed the blue line. Busby carried across the neutral zone and snapped a long-range shot between two defenders that caught Incze off-guard over his left pad. The goal was Busby’s first of the season, scored at 2:54.
Less than two minutes later, Eric Uba fired a shot on net from the top of the right-wing circle. Incze made the initial save, but Cody Morgan was on the doorstep to knock the rebound home through the five-hole. For Morgan, who was acquired from Windsor at the trade deadline, the goal was number 12 of the campaign, scored at 4:40. Uba was credited with the only assist. Flint led 3-0.
Windsor scored their first of the game at 9:35 of the middle frame. Luke Boka gained control of the puck off a neutral-zone faceoff and had a step on the Flint defense. From the right hash-mark, he fired a low, hard shot that snuck through the five-hole for his 12th of the season, unassisted. Windsor netminder Kari Piiroinen relieved Colton Incze who made eight saves on 11 shots after the goal.
Second period shots were 14 – 12 in Flint’s favor, but the two-period total favored Windsor 23 – 20.
The Spitfires narrowed the gap just 37 seconds into the third. Curtis Douglas whiffed on a wrist-shot attempt from the top of the left circle, but got a second crack at it and quickly snapped a low shot into traffic. The puck slipped under Vella as he dropped into the butterfly, and trickled across the goal line. Douglas’ 26th of the season was assisted by Nathan Staios and Thomas Stevenson.
Later in the third, Windsor converted on a set play off an offensive face-off to tie the contest and forst overtime. Boka won the draw back to Luka Henault at the right point. Henault moved around a Flint defender and shot far-pad from high inside the right circle. Vella made the save, but Douglas was ready for the one-timer on the back-door play to tie the game at three. Douglas’ second of the night (27) was logged at 8:48.
Windsor outshot Flint 6 – 10 in the third period.
Both teams had multiple scoring chances in the extra frame, but the goaltenders stood tall. Vella made four saves and Piiroinen stopped both Flint shots.
Flint held the deficit in shots-on-goal through 45 minutes by a margin of 43 – 32. The Spitfires didn’t take a penalty in the entire game, and Flint killed both of their short-handed situations successfully.
Through two and a half rounds and five shooters, no one was able to score. As the final shooter, Cody Morgan, with the game on his stick, skated up the middle of the ice with patience and sniped a low shot blocker side to win the game.
Next Home Game:
The Flint Firebirds final home game of the 2018-19 season is this Saturday night at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (EDT) against the Sarnia Sting for the Firebirds’ annual ‘Fan Appreciation Night’ and post-game player autograph session. Also, Hockey Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree, who is credited with being the first black player to play in the NHL will be in attendance Saturday night (Watch Video).
O’Ree’s 22-year pro career included two seasons with the Boston Bruins. He played two games in 1957-58 and 43 in 1960-61, earning a total of four goals, four assists and 26 penalty minutes. He had five 30-goal seasons in the minors and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 as a builder of the sport.
For the fourth consecutive year, the Firebirds want to say thank you for another great season of Firebirds’ Hockey. There will be many free giveaways on tap including the Firebirds team picture to the first 2,500 fans through the doors, compliments of Commercial Graphics. Fans can stay after the game to meet-and-greet the Firebirds’ players during a post-game autograph session in the lobby.
Additionally, fans will have the opportunity to take home Dort Federal Credit Union thundersticks and foam pucks, 277 Firebirds’ players ‘Big Heads’ compliments of Landaal Packaging Systems, 1,000 lanyards compliments of PFCU, fan appreciation scratch-offs and many more giveaways!
Also, in special appreciation of Firebirds’ season ticket holders, for every paid season ticket, they will receive one complimentary ticket of equal value to bring a friend for Saturday night’s game.
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.
Early bird ticket packages for the Flint Firebirds’ 2019-20 OHL season are on sale now. A $50 deposit reserves your seat for next season! The special early bird price deadline is Tuesday, April 30th and fans can secure their seats for next season at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday thru Friday. For additional pricing and ticket information, fans can call the box office at (810) 744-0580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club