London, Ont. – The Firebirds rallied for a 6-1 victory to snap the London Knights’ five-game winning streak in front of a sellout crowd of more than 9,000 fans at the Budweiser Gardens Friday night. With the win, Flint is again in first place in the OHL’s Western Conference with a 13-6-0-0 overall record.
Luke Cavallin played a stellar in net, stopping 35 of London’s 36 shots to earn his fifth win in just his eighth appearance. Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Jack Phibbs, Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Jake Durham each lit the lamp once for Flint and Evgeniy Oksentyuk scored twice plus picked up an assist to earn ‘First Star’ honors in the triumph. On special teams, the ‘Birds shut down the OHL’s second-best power play on two chances while going scoreless on two power-play opportunities of their own.
Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) scored the game’s first goal and the only tally of the opening frame. Jack Wismer passed to Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) behind the London cage. Keppen skated toward the right corner before passing to Busby just inside the blue line. He gained control and blasted a hard shot through traffic that found twine just inside the far post. The goal was his third of the season, logged at 15:56.
First period shots-on-goal were 10 – 7 in Flint’s favor. The Firebirds killed their only penalty with success, but came up empty on two chances with the man-advantage.
The Knights were quick to tie the game at one, scoring just 1:27 into period two. Jonathan Gruden (Ottawa Senators) picked up a loose puck behind the goal line to Cavallin’s right. He made a pass to Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals) behind Cavallin’s left shoulder. McMichael quickly found Alec Regula (Chicago Blackhawks) on the left side of the slot for the backdoor one-timer. The goal was Regula’s eighth of the season.
Flint responded with three consecutive tallies to take a 4 – 1 lead in the remaining duration of the middle 20 minutes. Jack Phibbs extended his point streak to five games by scoring the go-ahead goal at 2:42. He took the puck from a turnover at the left point of Flint’s offensive zone and made a bee-line toward the net. Phibbs used the lone defender as a screen and snapped a quick shot that beat goaltender Dylan Myskiw over his right pad for his sixth of the season.
Next, Ethan Keppen launched a shot from high between the circles that Myskiw was able to save. Team Captain Ty Dellandrea pounced on the rebound and backhanded it over the sprawling netminder for his eighth of the campaign at 8:07. Keppen and Connor Roberts combined for the assists.
Jake Durham score his team-leading 10th of the season at 13:04 to conclude the second-period scoring. Owen Lalonde made a long-range breakout pass from deep in his own end to Evgeniy Oksentyuk streaking up the left-wing wall. Oksentyuk carried into the offensive zone and made a cross-ice pass to Durham on the right. Jake stepped around a defender and wristed the puck short-side past Myskiw. With the goal, Durham tied Nick Caamano for the third-most points in Firebirds’ franchise history.
Brett Brochu replaced Myskiw between the pipes after Durham’s marker. The three-goal lead was the largest lead the ‘Birds have ever held in London. Flint outshot the Knights 17 – 13 in the second period for a two-period advantage of 27 – 20. There were no penalties called in the middle frame.
In the final period, Cody Morgan fed the puck to Durham in the left offensive corner. Durham stepped around two London defenders before shooting an intentional wide shot/pass to Brochu’s right. Evgeniy Oksentyuk was there to redirect the shot behind the netminder for his ninth of the campaign, assisted by Durham and Cody Morgan. With the first assist, Durham moved into third all-time in total points (123) in Flint’s franchise history.
London pulled Brochu for the extra attacker on a power play with just under nine minutes remaining in the third period. Cavallin made several huge saves to keep the Knights from converting on the power play, and shortly after the successful penalty kill, Oksentyuk scored his second of the night on the empty net. The unassisted tally was recorded at 13:47 to give Flint the 6 – 1 lead.
Final shots were 37 – 36 in Flint’s favor. London had the advantage in the faceoff circle, winning 35 of 54 draws.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds return to home ice to face the Ottawa 67’s for first time this season Saturday evening. The game is Eastern Michigan Hockey Association (EMHA) night. The EMHA is the association that 14 Junior Firebirds youth teams play under. The Firebirds want to honor those players for wearing the orange and navy Firebirds’ sweater all season long. Great seats are still available!
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.
Photo Credit: Natalie Shaver
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club