Erie, Penn. – The Firebirds defeated the Erie Otters for the second time in seven days Friday night, this time on the road in overtime 5 – 4. The victory extends Flint’s overall franchise-best winning streak to eight games, and a new franchise best road-game winning streak to five games. Connor Roberts potted the overtime game-winner just 26 seconds into the extra frame to keep the streak alive.Cody Morgan, Brennan Othmann, Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) scored the goals in regulation. Luke Cavallin earned his tenth victory between the pipes, making 23 saves on 27 shots in another stellar performance.
Flint won the opening faceoff, but a turnover in the neutral zone resulted in an early breakaway for the Otters. Daniel D’Amato crossed the blue line a half-step ahead of his defender and traversed the right-wing circle. He faked a shot short-side before carrying across the slot and lifting a short-range wrister far-side for his 16th of the season just 16 seconds into the game. Brendan Sellen was credited with the lone helper.
Flint battled back to tie the contest with a 4-on-3 power-play marker at 11:45 of period one. Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) passed from the top of the right circle to Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) high at the left point. Kolyachonok sent a high-velocity slap-pass to Cody Morgan at the bottom of the right circle for the back-door one-timer behind goaltender Daniel Murphy. The goal was Morgan’s 13th of the campaign.
After 20 minutes, the score was tied at one, faceoff wins were tied at 10 per side and shots-on-goal were 10 – 9 in Erie’s favor. The ‘Birds converted on their lone opportunity with the man-advantage, while holding Erie scoreless with one chance.
The Otters pulled ahead near the midpoint of the game. Elias Cohen made a pass off the left-wing wall to Austen Swankler in the left-wing circle. Swankler turned and sniped a shot top-shelf, short-side that connected for his 13th at 9:04. Cohen combined with Drew Hunter for the assists.
The Firebirds tied the game less than 20 seconds later. Riley Piercey disrupted a breakout attempt by the Otters near his offensive blue line and Brennan Othmann took off on a breakaway from the right point. He faked near the bottom of the right circle before burying the puck over Murphy’s shoulder near-side for his 12th of the campaign at 9:22. Piercey picked up the solo assist.
Flint outshot Erie 17 – 8 in the middle frame, giving them the 40-minute edge of 26 – 18. Faceoffs through two periods were also in the ‘Birds favor by a margin of 23 – 17.
Kolyachonok scored his tenth to give the Firebirds their first lead of the night at 3:06 of the third period. He received a pass from Evgeniy Oksentyuk on the left wall at the point and took a couple strides inside the blue line. He launched a heavy shot into traffic in front of the Erie cage, and the puck deflected off a defender’s equipment and past Murphy near-side. Oksentyuk and Emmet Pierce combined on the helpers.
While shorthanded, Jack Phibbs emerged on a breakaway up the left wall with Ty Dellandrea in tow to his right. Once in the offensive zone, Phibbs slowed and hit his captain with a perfect tape-to-tape pass. Dellandrea went to his backhand and roofed it blocker-side for his 29th of the season at 6:48 of period three.
The Otters fought back and scored two unanswered, starting with a power-play tally less than a minute later. Brendan Sellan scored his sixth of the season at 7:47 on a hard wrister from the right circle, assisted by Drew Hunter. Then Maxim Golod tied the game at 10:27, scoring his 20th of the season on a breakaway. Connor Lockhart earned the only assist for the pass that sprung Golod free.
The ‘Birds outshot the Otters 11 – 9 in the final frame of regulation for a three-period advantage of 38 – 27.
Early in the overtime frame, Erie turned the puck over in Flint’s zone and Connor Roberts emerged with the puck. As he carried across the offensive blue line, he passed to Oksentyuk who drew the defender and then made the return feed to Roberts on the far side of the slot. Roberts one-timer struck paydirt, preserving the winning streak and ending the game in a 5 – 4 victory in front of more than 3,200 fans at the Erie Insurance Arena.
Next up for the Firebirds is a Saturday night battle with the Bulldogs in Hamilton. Of note, Flint has never won a game at the First Ontario Centre.
Photo Credit: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club