Flint, Mich. – Down 3-0 in the second period, Flint scored five-straight goals to complete the home-ice weekend sweep with a 5 – 4 triumph over the visiting Owen Sound Attack. Evgeniy Oksentyuk remained on fire, scoring a goal and two assists to extend his point-streak to five games (4G, 7A), while earning ‘First Star’ honors for the game. Cody Morgan was the ‘Second Star’ with a goal and an assist, and netminder Anthony Popovich was named the ‘Third Star’ for making 26 saves and picking up his second assist of the season. Jake Durham extended his point-streak to eight-games (3G, 8A), the longest by any Flint player this season. With the victory, the ‘Birds improved to 10-3-0-0 on home ice and 15-8-0-0 for the season.
The Attack scored two unanswered goals in the first period. First, Joshua Samanski won an offensive draw back to Brady Lyle at the right point. Lyle launched a heavy shot on goal that made its way through traffic and snuck past Luke Cavallin near-side for his fifth of the campaign at 8:28. Next, Ethan Burroughs sent a hard pass from the top of the right-wing circle to Matthew Philip in the slot. Philip had a Flint defender in tow, and his attempt to gather the pass wound up redirecting under Cavallin, five-hole. Anthony Popovich relieved Cavallin following Philip’s 11th tally of the season, logged at 18:16.
First-period shots ended up 17 – 10 in Flint’s favor. Owen Sound took one penalty in the opening frame, but Flint was unable to convert with the man-advantage.
Owen Sound extended their lead to three just 11 seconds into the second period. Barret Kirwin made the no-look setup pass from below the goal line to the slot where Sergey Popov one-timed it glove-side for his sixth of the season.
The ‘Birds responded with four unanswered goals in the middle frame. It started when Tyler Deline made a neutral-zone heads-up pass from his own end to Brennan Othmann as he crossed the offensive blue line. Othmann made a short backhand pass to Connor Roberts on his left. The Owen Sound native snapped a quick shot from above the left circle that beat Mack Guzda glove-side for his sixth of the season at 2:10.
Then, Popovich sent a long bank-pass from his own crease that hit Evgeniy Oksentyuk in stride along the right-wing wall. Oksentyuk crossed the blue line, then made a left-hand turn and walked the line. As reinforcements crashed the net, Oksentyk lifted a hard wrister high over the goal to Guzda’s left. Cody Morgan was on the doorstep to knock the puck out of midair as it bounced off the end glass back toward the crease. The puck found twine past Guzda glove-side for Morgan’s sixth of the year at 4:36.
While on the power play, Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) carried the puck toward the slot from the right point, and showed patience as he crossed in front of the crease before backhanding a shot. The puck beat Guzda blocker-side just over the outstretched right pad. The power-play marker was Kolyachonok’s sixth of the season, scored at 15:43, unassisted.
Finally, with under 30 seconds to play in the second period, Jake Durham stole the puck at center ice and quickly sent to Morgan streaking up the middle. Morgan carried across the blue line and dished the puck to Oksentyuk on his left. The Belarusian forward didn’t have a clear path to shoot with bodies in front, so he carried behind the cage and finished with a wraparound to Guzda’s left for his team-leading 12th of the season.
Flint outshot the Attack 19 – 9 in the middle frame for a 40-minute advantage of 36 – 19. The Firebirds scored one power-player goal on three chances, while staying out of the penalty box in the stanza.
Riley McCourt scored his third goal and eighth point of the week at 13:16 to bring the fans to their feet. Oksentyuk centered the puck from the right corner. McCourt gathered the pass and made a stutter-step around two Owen Sound defenders that collided and fell to the ice. From between the circles, McCourt sniped a snap-shot into the top left corner. It was McCourt’s ninth of the season, assisted by Oksentyuk and Jack Wismer.
The Attack scored one more with Guzda on the bench and an extra attacker on the ice with 1:48 to play in regulation. Lyle hit the extra attacker Popov as he entered the zone from the left-wing point. Popov found Barret Kirwin between the circles. Kirwin kicked the puck to his stick and launched a shot through traffic that beat Popovich glove-side for his tenth of the season.
Flint’s defense held on to earn the victory and take the 2-1-0-0 season series lead over the Attack. Final shots were 50 – 37 in Flint’s favor. The Firebirds finished one-for-five on the power play while holding the visitors scoreless in two chances with the man-advantage. Flint also won 40 of 64 faceoffs in the contest.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds are back in action Wednesday night as they host their in-state rival Saginaw Spirit. The game is a Food Bank Can Drive, so fans can receive a complimentary ticket for a donation of a minimum of five non-perishable food items, sponsored by Little Caesars. It’s also a College Night featuring $2 beers, hot dogs, pop corn and sodas. The game is also game number two of the I-75 Divide Cup Series. For the fifth consecutive year, the team who wins the most regular-season meetings between the two clubs will take home the coveted I-75 Divide Cup, sponsored by Coors Light. In each of the first two series, the Cup remained in Flint. For the last two seasons, the Spirit claimed the Cup. Flint took the early 1-0-0-0 lead in the series with a victory in Saginaw on September 21.
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: Todd Boone & Emma Phillips
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club