Guelph, Ont. – The Flint Firebirds have won three-consecutive games 10 times in franchise history since 2015. Never have they won four-straight, until Friday night. Down 2-0 in the second period, Flint fought back to post a 4-3 overtime victory over the Guelph Storm and set a franchise record in front of 3,425 fans at the Sleeman Centre. The Firebirds are off to their best start in franchise history with a 4-1 record through five games.
Former Storm goaltender Anthony Popovich was honored in his first visit back to Guelph on the video board during the pregame ceremony and was awarded his OHL Playoffs championship ring prior to puck drop. When the captains were called to center ice for the ceremonial puck drop, a class-act move was shown by Firebirds’ captain Ty Dellandrea who remained on the bench so Popovich could take the puck drop, something goaltenders rarely do in the game of hockey.
The Storm started the scoring 9:04 into the first period. While at the left-wing point, Pavel Gogolev slid the puck to the right-side to Daniil Chayka who fired a one-timer, farside, blockerside. Eric Uba was credited with the second assist.
The score remained 1-0 after the first 20 minutes but the Firebirds led in shots 13-8.
2:00 into the second period, the puck was dumped into the Firebirds’ zone. As Popovich skated behind the net to retrieve the puck, it took a awkward bounce off the end boards and caromed off the side of the goal to the slot before Jacob Roach tapped it in. Andrei Bakanov and Nico Daws earned the assists.
The Firebirds scored the next three. First, Connor Roberts fed Evgeniy Oksentyuk for a partial breakaway who buried from the left-wing circle, shortside at 2:41 of the second period. Oksntyuk increased his point-streak to five-consecutive games, finding the scoresheet at least one in all five games to start the season.
Then, Flint tied it while on the power-play. Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) fired a puck on net from the left-point and Roberts was on the doorstep to light-the-lamp at 2:11 of the third period. Evan Vierling earned the second assist.
The Firebirds earned the lead with 8:48 remaining in the regulation when Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) fed a pass to Jake Durham who was streaking up the right wing. Durham fired the puck five-hole to earn Flint a 3-2 lead.
Guelph pulled their goaltender to add the extra attacker on the ice with two minutes remaining. Chayka was able to strike with 1:46 left in the game from the point to force overtime. Fedor Gordeev (Minnesota Wild) and Gogolev were credited with the assists.
After regulation, the game was tied 3-3. Flint led in shots 34-22.
Finally, Riley McCourt scored the franchise record breaking goal at 2:56 of extra frame. Popovich made the save and made a smart, heads-up play to pass the puck to Oksentyuk to develop a 2-on-1 play. Oksentyuk made a skilled sauce-pass to McCourt who buried farside to earn the Firebirds their fourth-straight victory. Final score presented by Joe Hamo of The Hamo Group, rated Best in State by Forbes.
Flint outshot Guelph in all four periods, for a total of 37-23. The Firebirds won 39 face-off draws compared to Guelph’s 26. Flint was 1-for-4 on the power-play and were 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Roberts was awarded Ascension Genesys Health Club’s second-star honors and Oksentyuk was tabbed as the game’s third star.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will travel to Owen Sound Friday night for a Saturday contest against the Attack. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. (ET) at the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre.
The Firebirds return home to Flint for the club’s 5th-annual “Pink Out The Rink Night” next Saturday, October 12th. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center and great seats are still available! Click here for more information.
Photo Credit: Garrett FitzGerald
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club