Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds defeated the OHL’s third-place team for the second time on home ice this season. Flint has now won four of their last seven contests and have won three of the last four home games. Goaltender Luke Cavallin won back-to-back games for the second time this season, stopping 36 of 40 shots for his fourth win between the pipes. Special teams produced three goals on six power-play opportunities and stopped Sault Ste. Marie twice on four chances with the man-advantage.
Michael Bianconi and Vladislav Kolyachonok each scored their first-career OHL goals in the contest. Kolyachonok also added three assists to earn ‘First Star’ in the contest. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) earned four helpers to claim ‘Second Star’ of the game. Jake Durham score twice to complete Flint’s sweep of the ‘Three Stars’ for the second straight game.
Durham initiated the scoring with a power-play tally 5:13 into the opening frame. Kolyachonok sent Durham a point-to-point pass just inside the blue line. Durham fired a wrister from the right circle that sailed over netminder Ethan Taylor’s right shoulder. The goal was Durham’s team-leading 25th of the season, and second goal in as many games. Kolyachonok and Ethan Keppen were credited with the assists. Just over a minute later, Michael Bianconi intercepted a clearing attempt, maintaining the offensive zone. He settled the puck high between the circles before snapping a rising shot that beat Taylor top-shelf over his left shoulder. The goal was Bianconi’s first career OHL tally, scored at 6:45, unassisted. Durham lit-the-lamp for his second of the period and 26th of the campaign at 15:28, lifting a backhanded shot behind Taylor from below the goal line and to the side of the cage. Kolyachonok picked up his second assist of the night on the play, as did the captain Dellandrea.
The Greyhounds replaced the first-year netminder Taylor with the veteran Matthew Villalta (Los Angeles Kings) after Flint’s third score. In the face-off circle, the Firebirds won 18 of 26 draws, with Dellandrea winning 10 of 12 in the frame. Shots-on-goal favored the home team 13-7.
Just past the five-minute mark of the second period, Flint capitalized on another power play. Eric Uba, Ty Dellandrea and Riley McCourt put on a passing clinic across the top of the zone. Finally, McCourt fired a slapper from high between the circles that found its way over Villalta’s right shoulder. The goal was McCourt’s fifth of the season, assisted by Dellandrea and Uba.
The ‘Hounds scored their first goal of the game on the power play with 1:22 remaining in the middle frame. Defenseman Jordan Sambrook one-timed a pass in the slot for his 13th of the season, assisted by Tye Kartye and Ryan O’Rourke. Second-period shots were 15-13 in Sault Ste. Marie’s advantage, but Flint held the two-period edge 26-22.
The ‘Hounds cut the deficit to a pair at 5:24 of the third period on Mac Hollowell’s 13th of the season, assisted by Jaden Peca. Flint answered with their third power-play tally of the game, just over one minute later. Dellandrea found Kolyachonok with space near blue line, Kolyachonok skated toward the slot before releasing a wrister that painted the top left corner of the twine from between the circles. Sault Ste. Marie would cut the deficit to two at 13:26. Ryan Roth scored his 13th of the season from the right circle, assisted by Kartye and Alex Johnston. Then, with a Firebirds’ player in the penalty box, the Greyhounds called Vella to the bench and utilized a six-on-four skater advantage to narrow the gap to a single goal. Ryan O’Rourke muscled his fifth of the season past Cavallin with 2:38 remaining in regulation, unassisted.
With Villalta on the bench again, Dellandrea and Eric Uba motored up ice on a two-on-one rush. Dellandrea waited until the last second to fire a pass onto Uba’s stick for a quick redirection and an insurance goal. Uba’s 15th of the season would seal the home-ice victory for Flint, assisted by Dellandrea and Kolyachonok with 69 seconds remaining on the game clock. Final shots-on-goal favored the visitors from the Soo, 40-32.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will play the Windsor Spitfires this Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. (ET) at the WFCU Centre.
Next Home Game:
The Firebirds return to the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center to host the Hamilton Bulldogs this Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. (ET). Grab your friends or the family and join the Firebirds for another ‘Firebirds 4 Pack Friday!’ Fans can get 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs and 4 soft drinks starting at just $60. Firebirds 4 Pack packages are only available for Friday games in advance of game day. For more information, contact the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office by calling (810) 744-0580 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday will also continue the “Firebirds Fight Hunger” month. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to the Firebirds’ merchandise store, ‘The Birds Nest,’ at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center for a complimentary sponsored Silver Level ticket to Saturday’s game, and any home Firebirds’ game in the month of January, courtesy of Dort Federal Credit Union, AMD Urgent Care, Captain’s Quarters Lounge, Little Caesars Pizza and Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) Flint.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club