Sarnia, Ont. – The Sting ended the Firebirds’ five-game winning streak with a closely-fought 7 – 5 victory in front of more than 3,200 fans in Sarnia Friday night. For Flint, Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Evgeniy Oksentyuk, Jack Wismer, Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) and Connor Roberts all lit the lamp. Luke Cavallin made 30 saves on 36 shots and picked up his first assist of the season. For the Sting, Sean Josling scored a hat trick, Ryan Roth picked up two goals and two assists, and Jamieson Rees (Carolina Hurricanes) had four helpers to lead the offensive charge. Jordan Kooy (Vegas Golden Knights) earned the victory in his first game between the pipes for Sarnia.
The Sting scored just 32 seconds into regulation. Jamieson Rees (Carolina Hurricanes) skated out of the right-wing offensive corner and passed through the slot to Kelton Hatcher far-side for the back-door play. Hatcher’s first of the season was assisted by Rees and Ryan Roth.
Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) tied the game at 4:29 on the power play. Goaltender Luke Cavallin passed to Busby deep in his defensive zone, and Busby carried across both blue lines and split a pair of Sarnia defenders. He sent a rising wrister that found twine over netminder Jordan Kooy’s (Vegas Golden Knights) right shoulder. The goal was Busby’s second of the campaign, scored on the ‘Birds first power play of contest. Cavallin was credited with the lone assist.
Sarnia’s second goal of the first period was a tic-tac-toe goal. Roth passed from the left circle to Rees on the right. Rees quickly found Josling back to the left on the doorstep for the one-timer behind Cavallin. Josling’s 11th of the season was scored at 15:28 of period number one.
The Sting led 2 – 1 after the opening 20 minutes. Shots were 12 – 10 in Flint’s favor. The Firebirds scored one goal in two opportunities with the man-advantage, and Sarnia’s power play wasn’t tested.
Evgeniy Oksentyuk tied the game 4:20 into the middle frame. Fellow Belarusian Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers) made the cross-ice pass to Oksentyuk below the hash marks on the right side. He skated in on Kooy unabated, making a few moves to earn the commitment of the netminder before slipping the puck far-side for his third goal in the past two games, and his seventh of the season. Kolyachonok and Emmet Pierce combined for the assists.
The Sting reclaimed the lead 3-2 on the power play at 9:48 with an unusual goal. Luke Cavallin made an initial save, and the puck rebounded out to his left. A Firebirds’ skater tried to clear a loose puck in front of the Firebirds’ net but it Two sting players made contact with it before the puck fluttered into the crease and deflected off a Flint defender back into the net. Josling was credited with his second goal of the game and fourth of the season, unassisted.
Sarnia took the 4 – 2 lead on another unfortunate bounce in front of Cavallin. A Flint defender attempted to clear a rebound, but Sam Bitten swung and made contact with the clearing attempt and redirected it into the back of the net. Bitten was credited with his fifth of the season at 17:21, unassisted.
Jack Wismer scored the third goal for Flint with only five seconds remaining in the second period. Riley McCourt launched the puck from the right point and Wismer deflected it from the high slot and between the pads of Kooy. It was Wismer’s fifth of the season, and all five of his goals have been scored in the last five games. McCourt picked up the solo assist.
The Bee’s led the ‘Birds 4 – 3 after 40 minutes. Sarnia outshot Flint 15 – 12 in the second period for the 40-minute edge of 25 – 24.
Early in the third period, Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) picked the pocket of a Sarnia defender and sent a pass between two defenders to Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) in the left circle. Keppen’s left-handed shot found twine just inside the near post for his fifth of the campaign at 3:13 of period three. Owen Lalonde picked up the second assist on the tally.
Josling completed the hat trick to reclaim the lead 5 – 4 at 10:42. Rees took the first shot on goal from point-blank range to Cavallin’s left. He got his own rebound in front of the net and Cavallin also stopped the second shot. Josling was able to knock home the third attempt out of mid-air between for his third of the night and 13th of the season. Rees collected his third helper of the evening on the play.
Connor Roberts buried Flint’s second short-handed marker of the season to tie the contest at five less than a minute later. The Firebirds’ defense blocked a shot in front of Cavallin and Roberts was off to the races up the left-wing wall. He made a move around a Sting defender in the left circle and snapped a quick shot just inside the near post. It was the fourth time Roberts has lit the lamp this season, logged at 11:28.
Ryan Roth scored a pair of goals in the final 90 seconds of the game to seal the 7 – 5 victory. First, he dropped to one knee in the slot to one-time a pass from Rees for Roth’s eighth of the season. Flint called Cavallin to the bench for the extra attacker in the final minute. The puck bounced over a rearguard’s stick and escaped the zone, where Roth picked it up and scored on a backhand shot from the neutral zone for his ninth of the campaign at 19:43.
Final shots-on-goal were 36 – 33 to Sarnia’s advantage. With the road defeat, Flint’s winning streak was snapped at five games. The Firebirds finished one-for-three on the power play while holding the Sting to just one-for-six with man-advantage.
Next Home Game:
The Flint Firebirds (10-4-0-0 overall | 6-0-0-0 at home) return home this Saturday afternoon for the club’s ‘Grandparent’s Day!’ Puck drop is set for 3 p.m. (ET) at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center in Flint.
Grandparent’s day features up to two free kids’ tickets (17 & under) with the purchase of a paid grandparent’s ticket at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office.
Fans will be able to see at least eight players that are already drafted and/or signed in the NHL. The Flint Firebirds have four players with NHL ties including first-round NHL pick Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars), Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes), Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) and Vladislav Kolyachonok (Florida Panthers). The Barrie Colts have six players with NHL ties including first-round NHL pick Ryan Suzuki (Carolina Hurricanes), Matthew Hill (Anaheim Ducks), Matej Pekar (Buffalo Sabres), Nicholas Porco (Dallas Stars), Arthurs Silovs (Vancouver Canucks) and Tyler Tucket (St. Louis Blues).
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: Metcalfe Photography
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club