Firebirds Drop Overtime Thriller with Top-Ranked 67’s

The Firebirds earned a point in an overtime loss against the OHL’s first-place Ottawa 67’s. Riley Piercey extended his point streak now six games (4 G, 7 A). Tristan Bertucci also recorded another multi-point night on the blue line, recording two goals and one assist. Logan Morrison (1 G, 3 A), Jack Beck (2 G, 1 A) and Pavel Mintyukov (3 A) led the way for the 67’s. Will Cranley was between the pipes for the Firebirds, stopping 28 of 34 shots in 61 minutes of play. Max Donoso was given the nod in the crease for Ottawa, stopping 30 out of 35 and picking up his 23rd win of the season.

The Firebirds came out aggressive, firing six shots on the Ottawa net within the first four minutes of the period. Ottawa would eventually go on the powerplay 4:56 into the game but would only muster two shots on net during the powerplay. A diving block and clear by Simon Slavicek ended the kill for the Birds. Ottawa’s netminder Max Donoso tried to catch the Firebirds off guard by trying to make a play with the puck. His stretch pass was intercepted by Riley Piercey, who was fresh out of the box. Piercey entered through the middle of the blue line and hit Coulson Pitre on the right side of the high slot. Pitre opened the scoring for the Birds with a wrister to the top left corner, beating Donoso to the blocker side en route to his 20th goal of the season.

Ottawa would answer just under four minutes later. Jack Beck walked out of the right-side corner and up the half wall, where he found Andrew Costantini at the point. The over-age defenseman ripped a wrister toward a crowded Firebirds net, which beat Cranley on the glove side and knotted the game at one.

With just under six minutes to play in the first period, Costantini found himself with the puck at the point once again. This time around he mishandled the puck, and Riley Pierecy would drag it one-handed with his backhand right onto the stick of Amadeus Lombardi. Lombardi tried to go forehand on Donoso, but the 67’s goalie read it all the way. Lombardi took the rebound from behind the net and fired it directly onto the stick of Gavin Hayes, who was standing alone on the left post. Hayes did what he does best and found the back of the net for his 25th goal of the season, and the Firebirds regained the lead 2-1 with 5:41 left in the period.

With 3:30 remaining in the first period, Dmitry Kuzmin would go to the box and Ottawa would have a shot to even things up. With 57 seconds remaining on the Birds’ kill, Anaheim Ducks prospect Pavel Mintyukov fired a shot from the point, hitting the stick of Brady Stonehouse and knotting the game right back up at two. The goal would be reviewed for a potential high stick, but the goal would stand.

The Birds started the period with over 90 seconds of powerplay time, and they did not let the opportunity go to waste. The unit consisting of Lombardi, Pitre, Hayes, Bertucci, and Piercey would get Flint going, as Bertucci would find Hayes on the top of the right side circle. Hayes fired a snapshot and Riley Piercey tipped it home, his 16th goal of the year and third point of the night to give the Firebirds the lead once again, 3-2 just 1:12 into the middle frame.

Ottawa would hammer the pressure on the Firebirds, starting with a 2-on-1 opportunity for Beck and Foster. Beck delivered a cross-slot pass to Foster who fired a slapshot at the lower right corner, but Will Cranley made another phenomenal stop against his former squad to keep Flint in the lead.

Shortly after the 2-on-1 was denied, Flint was unable to clear the puck and Ottawa kept the pedal to the floor. A shot from Frankie Morelli on the left side of the blue line bounced around in front of the net. A sprawling Will Cranley made the initial save, but the puck would re-direct directly on the stick of Jack Beck, scoring his second goal of the night, giving the 67’s their first lead of the night, 4-3, with 1:09 remaining in the second period.

After killing an early third-period penalty, Flint got a chance at the powerplay themselves due to a Gavin Ewles hooking call 4:36 into the period. A beautiful chip by Nolan Dann kept the puck in the zone, leading to Zacharie Giroux finding Tristain Bertucci at the point. Bertucci fired a wrister and tied the game at four apiece just 5:50 into third-period action.

Coincidental penalties by Tyler Deline and Brady Stonehouse would open the ice up with two minutes of four on four action.

Pavekl Mintyukov would lead a rush into the Firebirds’ zone that would break the tie. Going down the right side wall, Mintyukov would drop the back between his legs onto the stick of Logan Morrison. Morrison would let a shot rip from just outside the faceoff dot, beating Cranley on the short side to give his squad the lead once again, 5-4 with just north of nine minutes left.

Trailing by one, the Firebirds pulled the goalie with 1:40 left in the game. Following an offensive zone faceoff, Winnipeg Jets prospect Dmitry Kuzmin sent a pass across the blue line to Tristan Bertucci. Bertucci fired a shot on net and the puck found the back, his second goal of the night, and sent the Firebirds and 67’s into 3-on-3 overtime.

It would be Ottawa that would capitalize in overtime. Luca Pinelli entered the zone and dropped it behind his back to Montreal Canadians prospect Vinzenz Rohrer at the top of the slot. Rohrer’s wrister would find the back of the net, beating Cranley to the glove side and sealing the deal for the 67’s.

The final shots read 35 from Flint and 34 from Ottawa. The 67’s had the edge in the draw at 35-28 and went 1-for-3 with the man advantage while the Firebirds finished 2-for-3 on the night.

Up Next: The Firebirds have another big home game Saturday when the Owen Sound Attack invades the Dort.

Before the Firebirds game, Saturday will be an alumni game between the Flint Generals vs Muskegon Fury from 3:30-5:00 p.m. For access to the alumni game, you must purchase a ticket for the Saturday, February 4th game upon entering the arena concourse. There will also be a post-game Meet & Greet event in Arena 2 with both the Generals & Fury Alumni from 5:30-6:30 p.m. following the game. Tickets for the Meet & Greet event will be $20 and can be purchased at the Dort Financial Center Box Office Window or on, while supplies last.

Following the Alumni Game, the Firebirds will be hosting the Owen Sound Attack at 7:00 p.m. for Generals Night, sponsored by Shea Automotive. Your Flint Firebirds will be wearing specialty Flint Generals throwback jerseys during the game and will be live-auctioned off following the conclusion of the Firebirds game. All jersey-auction proceeds are to benefit the Flint Firebirds Foundation.

Tickets for Saturday’s home contests this weekend are available from ETIX HERE.

Photography: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds

Story: Sean Massa /

For more information, contact:

Jack Sznewajs
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club

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