Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. – Eric Uba scored his first-career OHL goal and Emanuel Vella made 37 saves of 40 shots but the Firebirds were edged 4-1 by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in front of 3,594 fans at the GFL Memorial Gardens Wednesday night. Morgan Frost (Philadelphia Flyers) and Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes) each had a three-point night for the home team.
The first period was even back-and-forth play from both squads, with the netminders Emanuel Vella of Flint and Matthew Villalta (Los Angeles Kings) of the Greyhounds each making huge saves to maintain the balance in the game. Sault Ste. Marie would light the lamp with 1:28 to play for the only marker in the opening. Detroit Red Wings’ prospect Jordan Sambrook fired a shot from the left-wing point that hit his teammate Cole MacKay in front. Vella was in position for the first save, allowing MacKay to tap the puck home from the doorstep for his third of the season. Morgan Frost picked up the second assist.
Shots on goal after 20 minutes favored the Soo 16 – 12. There were no penalties called in the opening frame.
Keeghan Howdeshell, who hails from Brighton, Mich., picked up his second marker of the campaign on an unlikely bounce from behind the Flint net. In what appeared to be a centering-pass attempt from below the goal line, the puck deflected off of the net and Vella’s left pad before finding its way into the goal. Barrett Hayton picked up the first assist for his first point on the season. On Tuesday, Hayton rejoined the Greyhounds after spending the first couple weeks of the season with his NHL club. The second assist was credited to Roman Pucek. After 40 minutes in the books, the Firebirds trailed 2-0.
With a Flint player in the penalty box, Sault Ste. Marie extended their lead to three. Hayton scored his first goal and second point of the season in just his first OHL game on a shot from the right-wing circle. Frost and Mac Hollowell (Toronto Maple Leafs) were credited with the assists.
Eric Uba scored the only goal of the contest for the Firebirds just inside of two minutes remaining in regulation. Ty Dellandrea took the initial shot from the left circle. Villalta made the save, but the puck was left in the crease behind the netminder. Uba was able to pounce before the Greyhound netminder could recover for his first career OHL goal at 18:07.
Coach Oulahen opted to use the team’s one timeout late in the third, allowing the team to pull Vella to the bench for the extra attacker. However, it was the home team that took advantage for their fourth and final goal of the game. Frost was able to find the empty net from center ice for his fifth of the season, assisted by Hayton, at 18:55. The Greyhounds skated to the 4 – 1 victory, outshooting the ‘Birds 41 – 22.
Final shots favored Soo 41-22. The Firebirds were 3-for-4 on the penalty kill and were unable to score on two opportunities. The Greyhounds won 39 face-offs compared to Flint’s 28.
Upcoming Home Game: The Firebirds host the North Bay Battalion for ‘810 Night’ Friday. To celebrate the Greater Flint Area, the Firebirds are offering the lowest individual ticket prices in franchise history, featuring $8 bronze level tickets and $10 silver level tickets. Also, the first 810 fans in attendance will receive a free Firebirds’ ’810’ shirt, compliments of PFCU. Additionally, there will be $8 glassware and a 10% discount in the Firebirds’ merchandise store, The Birds Nest.
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: Rena Laverty
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