Ottawa, Ont. – The Firebirds skated to a 5 – 4 shootout defeat against the league’s first-place team in front of more than 5,000 fans Friday night in Ottawa. Brennan Othmann, Braeden Kressler, Evgeniy Oksentyuk and Jake Durham scored in regulation for Flint. With his tally, Oksentyuk extended the league’s longest active point-streak to 17 games (13G, 16A). Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) also extended his point-streak to six games (7G, 9A) with an assist. Between the pipes, Luke Cavallin played stellar in his second-consecutive start, making 26 saves on 30 shots. On special teams, Flint scored one power-play marker on two chances and the OHL’s top-ranked power play scored twice in three opportunities with the man-advantage.
The first goal of the game wasn’t scored until nearly 18 minutes into the opening frame. Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) made a perfect breakout pass from deep in the Flint zone that sprung Brennan Othmann on a breakaway at the offensive blue line. As he skated between the circles he faked to his backhand before lifting a quick wrister inside the right post, glove-side. The marker was his ninth of the season at 17:53, assisted by Kolyachonok and Cody Morgan.
Ottawa had seven first-period shots to four by the Firebirds. Neither team took a penalty in the first 20 minutes of play, and faceoffs were 7 – 6 in Flint’s favor.
Ottawa responded in the second period with a trio of goals. First, it took the league’s top team only 32 seconds into the middle frame to tied the game. Flint attempted a breakout pass in their own end, but a bouncing puck resulted in a turnover. Mitchell Hoelscher (New Jersey Devils) took control above the left-wing circle and carried to the top of the right circle before launching a shot through traffic that hit the top corner of the net, far-side for his 22nd of the campaign, unassisted.
Next, the league’s best power play found paydirt on the game’s first power play to give the 67’s their first lead at 7:59 of the second period. Jack Quinn and Joseph Gareffa made a few short passes back and forth on the right side of their offensive zone before Quinn moved the slot and one-timed a pass past Cavallin down low on his blocker side for his 31st of the season.
Gareffa also set up the third goal for Ottawa by backhanding a pass from deep in the right corner to the OHL’s points-leader Marco Rossi on the doorstep. Rossi one-timed the pass under Cavallin, scoring five-hole for his 27th of the season at 11:13.
The ‘Birds fought back to tie the game before the second intermission. First, Jack Phibbs controlled the puck in the right-wing circle and hit the brakes to feed Riley McCourt streaking through the slot. McCourt’s one-timer was kicked aside by the goaltender, but Braeden Kressler was in position to redirect the puck behind Andree for his third of the season. Then Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) fed Evgeniy Oksentyuk across the high slot on a 2-on-1 and the Belarusian forward lit the lamp for his 21st goal at 17:00.
Second period shots favored Flint 14 – 11 to even both clubs 40-minute totals at 18. Faceoff wins were 20 – 16 to the 67’s advantage, and Ottawa scored one goal on the game’s only power play through the first two periods.
With five minutes left in regulation and the 67’s on their third power play of the game, Gareffa scored his 25th of the season. Noel Hoefenmayer (Arizona Coyotes) was centered just inside the blue line, and he passed to Rossi near the bottom of the left circle. Rossi sent the puck back to Hoefenmayer who blasted a slapper. The shot hit a body in front of Cavallin and deflected to Gareffa on the right for the one-timer.
The Firebirds called Cavallin to the bench on a late power-play opportunity. With the extra attacker on the ice, Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) made a point-to-point pass from the right side to Jake Durham on the left. Durham launched a howitzer on goal that found its way through traffic and just inside the near post for his 16th of the season, tying the game at four with only 93 seconds left in the third period. Shots-on-goal after regulation were 27 – 26 in the Firebirds’ favor.
The two goalies put on an absolute clinic in the five-minute three-on-three overtime period. Both clubs had quality scoring chances in fast-paced, end-to-end action but they were backstopped with incredible saves. The clubs went to a shootout to determine who gets the win and the extra point. Overtime shots were four for Ottawa and three for Flint.
Shootouts are scheduled for three rounds. If the scoring is tied after three, additional rounds are added until a winner is determined. It took seven rounds before the 67’s earned the second point with a goal from Alec Belanger.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will travel to Peterborough for a Saturday-night tilt with the Eastern Conference’s second-placed Petes. Firebirds’ broadcaster Dominic Hennig will call the play-by-play action on the Firebirds Hockey Radio Network. Pregame coverage will begin 30 minutes prior to puck drop at 6:30 p.m. on US 103.1 FM, online at www.us103.com or by downloading the US 103 app here.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club