Firebirds Get Back on Track, Win 3-1 Over Hamilton in Flint
Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds got back in the win column with a 3-1 Saint Patrick’s Day victory over the Hamilton Bulldogs. Gavin Hayes scored two goals on the night, continuing his hot streak. Amadeus Lombardi tallied two assists giving him two or more points in six of the last seven games. Nathan Day got the start for Flint, stopping 23 of 24 shots and picking up his 16th win of the season. This is Day’s 7th win in his last 9 starts. Tristan Malboeuf got the nod for Hamilton, denying 40 of 43 shots he faced.
After a fairly offensively quiet first four minutes of the game, the Firebirds got on the board first. Braeden Kressler went into a corner battle on the right side of the offensive zone with two Hamilton players and came out on top, putting the puck behind the net and onto the stick of Simon Slavicek. Slavicek quickly corralled the puck and sent it towards the low slot, where a crashing Nolan Dann tapped it low to the blocker side for his 12th goal of the season, giving the Birds the 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the opening frame.
The Firebirds would go on the 5-on-3 powerplay after Hamilton stacked a duo of penalties. The Firebirds’ top power play unit got the nod, peppering the Hamilton net with chances left and right. Tyler Deline fired a one-timer wide of the net, but Amadeus Lombardi was able to knock it away from a Hamilton defenseman to keep the pressure on. Lombardi fired a shot at the net, with the rebound being kept alive by Riley Piercey who passed it across to Gavin Hayes on the back-side post. Hayes shot beat a scrambling Malboeuf and just beat the timer of the first penalty, making the Flint lead two and maintaining the powerplay.
First-period shots read 11-6 in favor of Flint and they led in the face-off dot 11-8 as well.
The Firebirds started the period on the man advantage but failed to add to their lead. A few minutes later, Hamilton found themselves with a phenomenal chance, controlling the offensive zone as two Firebirds were without sticks. The Firebirds were unable to clear the zone, as Hamilton’s Andrian Rebelo came off the right sideboard with the puck and crossed through the slot. Rebelo crossed over to the left side and sent a pass through the slot onto the stick of Florian Xhekaj. Xhekaj buried the one-timer just past the outstretched glove of Day, cutting the lead in half 5:37 into the period. Noah Nelson added the secondary assist.
The Firebirds answered soon after as they found themselves with an offensive zone faceoff on the left side circle. Lombardi wasted no time off the draw, walking the Bulldog center on the draw and sending a pass from the seat of his pants cross slot to Hayes. Hayes buried his second of the night, 38th of the season, and the Firebirds led by two once again just over halfway into the second period.
The Firebirds went into the break leading 3-1, outshooting the Bulldogs 18-10 in the middle frame and outdrawing them 11-7 as well.
The Bulldogs would pull their goalie with just over 2 minutes remaining in the third period, the score still 3-1 in favor of the Birds. A series of diving blocked shots by Ethan Hay and Deline helped seal the deal for the Firebirds.
The Firebirds outshot the Bulldogs 43 to 24. Flint finished with the landslide advantage in the faceoff circle, winning 35 faceoffs to Hamiltons’ 21. The Bulldogs went 0-for-2 on the power play and the Birds ended up scoring on one of five chances.
Next Up: The Firebirds welcome the Western Conference-leading London Knights for the final time this year on Saturday. Prior to the game, the Firebirds will honor their Overage players: Riley Piercey, Tyler Deline, and Will Cranley in a special pregame ceremony to celebrate their OHL careers. Additionally, it will be Dover Doors night where the first 2,000 fans will receive a FREE keychain tape measurer courtesy of Dover Doors. Tickets for Saturday’s game are available now from ETIX.COM HERE.
Story: Sean Massa / flintfirebirds.com
Photography: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds
For more information, contact:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club