Firebirds Complete Sweep of Five-Game Homestand, Down Otters 4-1
Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds extended their winning streak to five games and moved past the Owen Sound Attack to claim the sixth spot in the Western Conference standings. Rookie Nathan Day got his sixth-consecutive start between the pipes and picked up his seventh consecutive victory with 24 saves on 25 shots faced en route to ‘Second Star’ honors in the contest. Defender Dmitry Kuzmin was named ‘First Star’ for his two-goal performance. Zacharie Giroux was the ‘Third Star’ after scoring and adding an assist. Veteran Nolan Lalonde backstopped Erie and posted 17 saves.
The Firebirds were first to find twine at the 8:24 mark of the opening frame. Marko Stojkov fired wide of the cage from the right point, and the puck ricocheted just wide of the goal post to Lalonde’s left. Coulson Pitre attacked the loose puck with a follow-up shot that was kicked aside, but he snagged his own rebound and tucked it between the far post and the netminder’s right skate for his 22nd of the season, assisted by Stojkov and Ethan Hay.
Flint maintained the 1-0 advantage through the first 20 minutes while outshooting Erie 10-7. Faceoffs also favored the home team by a margin of 7-5. The Otters were scoreless on the lone power-play chance in period one.
Zacharie Giroux received a pass from Coulson Pitre in the neutral zone and carried in one-on-one with a defender. Giroux lifted a wrister high to the blocker side that deflected off Lalonde’s blocker and in for his 20th at 2:40 of the center stanza.
Just beyond the midway point of the contest, Dmitry Kuzmin stepped in the way of an Erie shot and gathered the loose puck that deflected off his shin pad. He carried through the neutral zone and across the blue line before setting up a give-and-go with Giroux. Kuzmin stopped briefly at the left point, shaking his defenseman. He then passed to Giroux centered in the left circle and made a beeline toward the slot. Giroux immediately returned the puck to Kuzmin for a quick shot blocker side, resulting in his 13th of the year logged at 10:54.
Second-period shots favored the Otters 8-6 and Erie outdrew Flint 9-6 during the middle 20 minutes. Once again, Flint gave the visitors one power-play chance but successfully killed the two minutes off.
Early in the third, Nathan Aspinall passed back to Kuzmin at the left point. The crafty rearguard walked the line to the right and deked around an Otter defender before sniping a wrist shot to the glove side for his second of the night and 14th of the campaign at 3:51. Kaden Pitre was credited with the second helper.
With under three minutes to play, the Otters set up in Flint’s zone and Liam Gilmartin slapped the puck far-pad from the left point. Sam Alfano was perched on the doorstep for the short-range tap-in from Day’s left for his 14th of the season at 17:43.
Final shots were 25-21 to the visiting Otters’ advantage. Faceoffs also were controlled by Erie by a margin of 25-21. On special teams, Erie went scoreless on three chances with the man advantage while staying out of the penalty box to leave the Firebirds’ power-play unit untested in the tilt.
Next Up: Flint will hit the road for a trio of road games after tonight’s match. First, they’ll head to Erie, Penn. for a Saturday night tilt versus these same Otters. Then they’ll hit Oshawa and Owen Sound before returning home for their next home game on Friday, March 17. Puck drop for the St. Patrick’s Day game is set for 7:00 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Financial Center, and tickets are available now from ETIX.COM HERE.
Photography: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds
Story: Brandon Mills / flintfirebirds.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club