Saginaw, Mich. – The Firebirds extended their franchise-best winning streak to 11 games with a thrilling 5 – 4 road victory over the Spirit in Saginaw in front of nearly 5,000 fans Friday. With the win, Flint has now recorded the most amount of wins in a single season with 33 this campaign, making this the most winningest season in franchise history. The Firebirds are only two points outside of first place in the West Division.
Between the pipes, Luke Cavallin posted an impressive performance and is now tied with former Firebirds’ goaltender Garrett Forrest for most career wins (25) by a Flint netminder, making 44 saves on 48 shots. Jack Wismer lit the lamp twice for his fourth multi-goal game in his last seven played, and picked up an assist to finish with three points and ‘Second Star’ honors. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Braeden Kressler and Evgeniy Oksentyuk also scored for the Birds.
The home team found twine first, 4:10 into the opening frame. Dexter, Mich. native DJ Busdeker grabbed a loose puck in his offensive right-wing circle and sent it toward the slot. Cole Perfetti was the recipient, and he quickly lifted a shot over Cavallin’s shoulder for his team-leading 31st of the season.
Flint answered quickly, with Cody Morgan carrying across the blue line and into the right circle. He fed Jack Wismer high between the circles. Wismer made one quick move with the puck before snapping a laser mid-height, glove-side. The goal was Wismer’s 20th of the campaign, and his sixth goal in five games, logged at 5:26. With the helper, Morgan extended his point streak to eight games (2G, 8A).
The Birds found paydirt again at the seven-minute mark. Emmet Pierce shot far-pad from the right circle, and Braeden Kressler was ready for the rebound. A quick back-door redirection resulted in his fifth of the season. Quinn Yule picked up the second helper.
Flint finished the first period with a 2 – 1 lead over the Spirit. Saginaw led in shots 12 – 10 and the Firebirds had the upper hand in the faceoff circle 14 – 9. Neither club took a penalty in the first 20 minutes.
Wismer scored his second of the night at 13:33 of the middle frame. Morgan once again made the setup pass, this time from the right point. With goaltender Marshall Frappier sliding from his left to his right to follow the pass, Wismer one-timed the puck five-hole for his 21st.
The Spirit countered quickly, converting on a three-on-two rush less than a minute later. Perfetti controlled the puck and carried between the circles with a winger to either side. He opted to split the two Flint defenders and sniped a shot top shelf, blocker side. His second of the night was logged at 14:24, with Saginaw native Mitchell Smith picking up the lone helper.
The Birds converted on their first power-play opportunity of the contest to go ahead by a pair. Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) made the point-to-point pass to Riley McCourt on the left. McCourt faked a shot from the left circle, making the cross-ice pass to Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) on the right side of the slot. Dellandrea one-timed it behind Frappier for his 31st of the season at 17:20. With the assist on the tally, Riley McCourt claimed the all-time lead for assists by a Firebirds’ defender (71).
Second-period shots were 15 – 10 to Saginaw’s advantage, leaving them ahead 27 – 20 after 40 minutes. The Birds still led in the faceoff circle 23 – 20. Flint scored on their only chance with the man-advantage and held Saginaw scoreless on one try.
Mason Millman made the third period more interesting by closing the gap at 2:29. He lifted a wrister top-shelf, far-side from the inner edge of the right-wing circle for his 13th of the season. Davis Codd and Grand Blanc, Mich. native Dalton Duhart combined for the assists.
Frappier was called to the bench for the extra attacker with 90 seconds to play. However, a spectacular diving save by Cavallin resulted in an odd-man rush toward the empty net. The initial pass attempt was to Wismer, but he wasn’t able to reel it in. Evgeniy Oksentyuk won a battle along the end boards and wrapped it around for the empty-netter at 18:53, assisted by Wismer and Owen Lalonde.
Saginaw wasn’t done, as Perfetti logged the hat trick at 19:50 with his 33rd of the season over the sprawling Cavallin. Ryan Suzuki (Carolina Hurricanes) and Cole Coskey (New York Islanders) were credited with the assists.
Time expired before the Spirit could create another quality scoring chance. Final shots on net were 48 for Saginaw to 23 for Flint. The Birds won 30 of 61 total faceoffs, and scored the lone power-play goal of the game on their only chance.
Next Home Game:
Get tropical with the Flint Firebirds Saturday, Feb. 15 when the club takes the ice for the fifth-annual “Flint Tropics Night,” sponsored by Diamond Resorts International. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) against the Guelph Storm at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center.
One lucky fan can enter to win a FREE ‘(4) days and (3) nights stay for two’ at any of Diamond Resorts International’s locations in the United States. Fans can sign up at Diamond Resorts International’s table on the concourse. The winner will be selected during the game and will be announced in-house during the third period.
If the Firebirds score 125 goals in the game, everyone in attendance gets a FREE corn dog! Inspired by the movie “Semi-Pro” starring Will Ferrell, the Firebirds will be wearing special themed jerseys, pants and socks throughout the game that are sure to impress everyone in attendance. Immediately following the game, there will be a live jersey auction, giving fans an opportunity to take home the game-worn Flint Tropics jersey of their choice. Proceeds will be donated to the Firebirds Charitable Foundation which benefits local youth organizations throughout Flint, Genesee County and Mid-Michigan.
The first 500 fans through the doors will receive FREE Firebirds’ branded sunglasses, compliments of PFCU and Dort Financial Credit Union will be giving away FREE tropical themed coozies. Additionally, special video clips from the movie Semi Pro, tropical themed music, Flint Tropics merchandise and many more fun and entertaining elements will take place throughout the night.
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: Eric Young / Dream Bigger Media
For more information:
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club