Flint, Mich. – The Firebirds defeated Sault Ste. Marie 4 – 3 at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center Friday night to finish the season with a perfect 3-0 record at home vs. the Greyhounds for the first time in franchise history.
Defenseman Riley McCourt led the offensive charge with two goals and an assist, earning him ‘First Star’ honors in the contest. Jack Wismer was the game’s ‘Second Star’ with one goal and one helper. Between the pipes, Luke Cavallin earned his sixth victory in nine appearances, making 33 saves on 36 shots. With the win, the ‘Birds improved to 9-3-0-0 on home ice and 14-8-0-0 overall.
Riley McCourt continued his hot streak, lighting the lap at 2:09 of the opening frame. Connor Roberts gathered a loose puck in the right offensive corner and passed behind the Soo goal to Jake Durham. Durham carried to the hash marks before feeding McCourt at the left corner. The defenseman stepped around a defender at the point before carrying between the circles and backhanding his seventh goal of the season between the pads of netminder Bailey Brkin.
The ‘Hounds answered quickly, tying the game just two minutes later. Jaden Peca carried up the right-wing wall behind Popovich. He passed up the left wall to Billy Constantinou at the point. Constantinou carried cross-ice along the blue line, then made a drop pass to fellow defenseman Jacob Holmes. Holmes’ slapshot found its way through traffic and into the net for his second of the season at 4:08.
Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) knocked home a rebound on the game’s first power play at 9:39. McCourt took the initial shot from high between the circles, but the rebound slid to Brkin’s left where Keppen pounced and buried it. The goal was Keppen’s eighth of the season, assisted by McCourt and Evgeniy Oksentyuk.
First-period shots were 16 – 7 in Flint’s favor. The Firebirds scored one goal on two chances with the man-advantage, and did not take a penalty in the first 20 minutes.
The Firebirds extended their lead to two early in the second period. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) carried across the blue line up the right-wing side. Jack Wismer paced up the center of the ice and Oksentyuk was on the left. Dellandrea passed cross-ice to Oksentyuk who quickly fed Wismer in the crease for a one-timer just inside the right post for his sixth of the season.
Riley McCourt carried from the left point to the high slot before dishing the puck to his right. Wismer launched an intentional fake-shot to the left of the cage where McCourt connected for a redirection just inside the near post for his second of the night. Hunter Holmes was credited with the second assist.
Jaromir Pytlik scored the Soo’s second goal from point-blank range at 12:30. Constantinou took the initial shot, but a rebound fell in the crease and Pytlik got a stick on it before the sprawling Cavallin could recover. The goal was Pytlik’s tenth of the season.
Kartye pulled the ‘Hounds within one at 16:51. Pytlik won an offensive faceoff back to Jacob LeGuerrier (Montreal Canadians) at the right point. LeGuerrier’s slapshot was a routine save for Cavallin, but the rebound went to the netminder’s right. Kartye redirected it into the back of the net for his tenth goal this season, which extended his goal-scoring streak to five games.
The Greyhounds outshot Flint 21 – 8 in the middle frame to take the 28 – 24 edge through 40 minutes. Sault Ste. Marie went scoreless on two power-play opportunities in the stanza.
The third period was fast-paced, end-to-end action featuring spectacular saves by both netminders and blocked shots by both defensive units. The Greyhounds pulled Brkin to the bench for the extra attacker with just under two minutes remaining in regulation. The Firebirds defended their zone well and kept the visitors from getting any quality scoring chances as time expired.
Final shots were 38 – 34 in favor of the visiting Greyhounds. Flint ended up one-of-three on the power play while keeping the Soo scoreless on three chances. Flint also won the majority of the faceoffs during the contest by a margin of 37 – 27.
Next Home Game:
After the Firebirds host the Greyhounds Friday, Flint will take on the Owen Sound Attack Saturday at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
Saturday is the Firebirds’ Education Staff Appreciation Night, featuring complimentary Silver Level tickets for all administrators, teachers and staff with valid identification, courtesy of Sovita Credit Union and Michigan Education Association. Discounted tickets at $10 are available for family members who accompany the education professionals. Tickets must be picked up at the Dort Federal Credit Union Event Center Box Office.
Single game tickets for all Firebirds games are $12 Bronze, $16 Silver, $20 Gold and $26 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 Event Center Box Office or online at ticketmaster.com here.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club