Kitchener, Ont. – Florida Panthers’ prospect Vladislav Kolyachonok scored the game-winning goal 2:00 into overtime to lift the Flint Firebirds (6-3-0-0) to a 4-3 victory over the Kitchener Rangers before 6,472 fans at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium Friday night. With the win, Flint snapped Kitchener’s home undefeated streak of five games to start the season. Flint is now 3-1-1-0 in their last 5 games at ‘The Aud’ and are 5-3-1-0 all-time in Kitchener.
Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks), Riley McCourt and Cody Morgan both recorded two point games, Anthony Popovich made 27 saves on 30 shots and Braeden Kressler tallied an assist in his debut in his hometown of Kitchener.
Riley McCourt started the scoring for the Firebirds at 8:19 of the opening frame. Keppen initially kept the puck inside the Rangers’ zone at the left-wing point before dishing a pass to Kressler. Kressler made a skilled move to fend-off two Rangers’ defenseman, where McCourt picked up the loose puck at the top of the left circle and scored far-side over the left shoulder of Jacob Ingham.
Kitchener’s Jonathan Yantsis scored the next two goals. First, Yantsis scored shortside from the right circle at 12:31 of the first period. The game was tied 1-1 after 20 and shots were even at 13. Then, Riley Damiani fired a shot from the left-wing point while on the power-play that Yantsis redirected into the goal while positioned in front of the net to earn the Rangers their only lead of the game 41 seconds into the second period.
The Firebirds were next to score on the power-play. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) collected the puck on the left-wing half wall and slid it to McCourt at the left point. McCourt fed Othmann for a one-timer who fired a one-timer the right circle, shortside to tie the contest 2-2 at 14:38 of the middle frame.
The game was again tied after the second period but Flint outshot Kitchener in the middle period 14-8 for a two-period shot total of 27-21.
Evan Vierling scored the go-ahead-goal for Flint at 11:41. Morgan broke up a play at the Firebirds’ blue line to force a 2-on-o rush with Vierling. Morgan made a perfect pass from the middle of the right circle to a streaking Vierling in the slot who scored past the outstretched right pad of Ingham.
Ville Ottavainen tied the contest for Kitchener with 5:46 remaining on a shot from the right circle that found an opening through Popovich to force overtime. Flint outshot Kitchener 10-7 in the third period for a 37-28 Firebirds’ lead after regulation.
Flint scored the game-winning goal 2:00 into the extra frame. Ethan Keppen picked up a loose puck in Kitchener’s right wing corner. He skated behind the net and up the left-wing wall and left the puck for Morgan. Morgan worked his way to the bottom of the left circle and found Kolyachonok at the top of the left circle, who fired farside, gloveside to earn the victory.
Flint was 1-for-5 on the power-play and were 1-for-2 on the penalty kill. Face-offs were tied at 27-27. The Genesys Athletic Club’s three stars of the game were Kolyachonok (1st), Yantsis (2nd) and McCourt (3rd).
The Firebirds return home to Flint this Saturday to host the North Bay Battalion. Saturday marks the club’s 5th-annual “First Responders Appreciation Night” sponsored by Dort Federal Credit Union. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center and great seats are still available!
Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 for Bronze, $16 for Silver, $20 for Gold and $26 for 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 Credit Union Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
Photo Credit: Todd Boone / Flint Firebirds
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club