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Netminder Tovell Shines in Debut, Blanks Firebirds in 7-0 Windsor Triumph

Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds were unable to solve Matt Tovell in his first OHL start, as the Spitfires skated to a 7-0 victory in Flint Saturday night. Tovell stopped all 25 of Flint’s shots for his first career shutout. Across the ice, Ian Michelone played just his second game in goal for Flint, making 41 saves in a busy night between the pipes. Kyle McDonald led the Spitfires with a three-point (1 G, 2 A) performance. Will Cuylle (New York Rangers) and rookie Ethan Miedema chipped in a goal and assist each.

The Spitfires scored the lone goal of the opening frame while short-handed. Wyatt Johnston (Dallas Stars) deflected a Flint pass into the neutral zone where Will Cuylle (New York Rangers) picked it up and hit the accelerator. He crossed the blue line, hit the breaks above the left-wing circle and sniped a wrister far-side on Michelone, striking twine for his team-leading tenth of the season at 2:31.

Shots on goal ended 11-9 to Windsor’s advantage after the opening 20 minutes. The faceoff circle was dominated by Birds, winning 14 of 18 draws. Flint went scoreless on two man-advantage opportunities while keeping the Spits’ power-play unit at bay on a single power play.

Windsor found paydirt again only 38 seconds into the middle stanza. This time Johnston made a backhand cross-ice pass from the right-wing boards to Louka Henault atop the left circle. Henault’s ensuing wrist shot made its way over Micehlone’s blocker into the top corner for his fourth of the campaign.

Less than two minutes later, Daniil Sobolev (Montreal Canadians) made a tape-to-tape pass from his defensive end to a streaking Kyle McDonald. McDonald split to Flint defenders as he corralled the pass and skated in on Michelone all alone. From the slot, McDonald lifted the puck into the top corner, blocker-side, for his eighth marker of the season, logged at 2:34.

The intensity grew quickly after Spitfires claimed the three-goal lead. With an increase in physical play from both sides, the dropping of gloves became imminent. Tyler Deline showed his disapproval of a check made by Pasquale Zito, and the two sat for five after physically voicing their displeasure with one another. During the middle frame, the teams combined for 22 penalty minutes plus a 10-minute misconduct.

Moments later, Michelone made a great kick-save with the right pad, only to see the rebound knocked back through the five-hole for Matthew Maggie’s sixth of the season, logged at 10:52. McDonald and Michael Renwick picked up the assists on the goal.

After 40 minutes, the visitors from Windsor held onto a 4-0 lead. They were outshooting the Firebirds 29-21. The ‘Birds continued to control the faceoffs dot, winning 18 second-period draws to the Spits 15.

Near the midway point of the third, Michelone dove from his left to his right to make a key save. The rebound was knocked away by a Flint defender but the puck went right to defenseman Grayson Ladd, who had an empty net to tally his first of the season, unassisted at 7:46. Less than a minute later, rookie, Ethan Miedema found the bottom corner of the goal glove-side from the inner edge of the right circle. Miedema’s fifth of the campaign was logged at 8:27, and assisted by McDonald and Pasquale Zito (Detroit Red Wings).

Inside the final minute, Michael Renwick potted his first of the season, assisted by Daniel D’Amico at 19:15.

Final shots were a hefty 48 for Windsor to 25 for the Firebirds. Flint won 44 of 75 faceoff opportunities. On special teams, the Birds were 0-for-4 on the power play and the Spits finished 0-for-5. These two go back at it tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. at the WFCU Centre.

Next Home Game: The Firebirds return to home ice Wednesday night to host their in-state rival, the Saginaw Spirit, in another installment of the I-75 Divide Cup, presented by Coors Light. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. (ET). Tickets are on sale NOW here: ETIX.

Story: Brandon Mills/flintfirebirds.com

Photography: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds

For more information, contact:
Jack Sznewajs
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
jack@flintfirebirds.com
(810) 519-9347 ext. 223

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