Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds were unable to solve goaltender Mack Guzda and the visiting Owen Sound Attack Wednesday night. First-year forward Braeden Kressler scored on a late penalty shot to pull the game within reach, but an empty-netter by the visitors sealed their 5 – 2 victory. Jack Wismer also lit the lamp for the Birds and Anthony Popovich made 32 saves on 36 shots, a few of which were highlight-reel worthy, to keep Flint within striking distance. For the visitors, Mack Guzda made 34 saves on 36 shots to pick up his 24th win of the campaign and Kaleb Pearson potted two goals to lead the charge.
Defenseman Brady Lyle put the Attack on the scoreboard first just 58 seconds into the first period. He picked up the puck behind his own cage and skated coast-to-coast. Lyle lifted a wrister mid-height from between the circles that snuck over Popovich’s glove with his 22nd of the campaign, assisted by the netminder Mack Guzda.
Flint tied the game at 8:27. Evgeniy Oksentyuk carried up the right-wing wall and dished a backhand pass through the legs of a defenseman to Cody Morgan in the left circle. His one-timer hit a defender’s equipment in the slot and came to rest out of Guzda’s reach. Jack Wismer was the third man in, and was able to poke the puck five-hole for his 27th of the season.
A minute later, Joshua Samanski gathered a loose puck behind Flint’s net and carried to the right corner. He sent a laser pass across the slot to Matthew Struthers, who wasn’t able to get enough lumber on a one-timer attempt. The rebound trickled out between the circles where Kaleb Pearson slapped it glove-side for his 26th of the season, logged at 9:47.
Flint outshot Owen Sound 13 – 9 in the opening 20 minutes, but trailed in the faceoff circle 13 – 4. The Firebirds took the only penalty in the first period and killed it successfully.
The attack went up by two late in the second. Pearson carried from the right point to inner edge of the right circle, shaking a defender with a fake shot in the process. He used patience as he crossed the slot, and tucked the puck inside the far-side post for his second of the night, unassisted.
After two periods of play, the Attack led 3 – 1 on the scoreboard and 27 – 23 on the shot clock. They also had a six-draw advantage, winning 21 of 36 faceoffs through 40 minutes of play. Neither team converted with one power-play opportunity in the middle frame.
The Attack went up 4 – 1 less than 30 seconds into period three. Aidan Dudas (Los Angeles Kings) lifted a strong backhander through heavy traffic from between the circles that found twine for his 15th of the season at 0:28, unassisted.
Braeden Kressler was awarded a penalty shot late in the third. He carried far to the right and used several forehand-to-backhand moves as he approached slowly. Guzda committed to a far-side backhander, but Kressler put ono the brakes and scored on a nifty forehand shot to the near-side for his eighth of the season at 15:47.
Popovich was called to the bench with just over two-and-a-half minutes remaining in regulation and coach Wellwood used his lone timeout at the next stoppage. The Attack hit the post on the empty net twice before finally converting on a two-on-one Aidan Dudas backhanded a late pass to Adam McMaster, who sealed the game with his 19th of the season at 19:12. Matthew Struthers was credited with the second assist on the game’s final tally.
Shots on goal through 60 minutes were 37 – 36 to the Attack’s advantage. They also controlled the majority of faceoffs by a margin of 37 – 26. Flint was scoreless in two total chances with the man-advantage while holding Owen Sound scoreless with four opportunities.
Next up for Flint is a home game this Saturday versus the Windsor Spitfires. Puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.
Photo: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club