January 2, 2018 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Flint Firebirds
Saginaw, Mich. - Playing their third game in three nights, the Flint Firebirds earned a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes of play but Saginaw rallied for five unanswered goals en-route to a 6-2 victory before 3,953 fans at the Dow Event Center Saturday.
With the win, the Spirit captured the I-75 Divide Cup, presented by Coors Light, for the first time in the three year history between the in-state rivals.
Kyle Harris and Connor Roberts scored for the Firebirds and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) added a pair of assists. Rookie goaltender Luke Cavallin made 32 saves.
Kyle Bollers scored twice for the Spirit and Blade Jenkins added a goal and two assists. Cole Coskey, Ryan Stepien and DJ Busdeker scored once each. Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils) turned away 29 of 31 shots.
Saginaw came out with jump early, hitting a goal post and forcing Luke Cavallin to make a good stop from in close. The Spirit continued the pressure and Kyle Bollers, with a re-direct off his skate, opened the scoring for Saginaw at 3:59. Marcus Crawford and Hayden Davis drew the assists.
The Firebirds tied the game on a nice play from both Max Kislinger and Kyle Harris at 13:02. Racing down the left wing, Kislinger sent a pass in front of the crease and Harris banged it in for his fourth goal of the season. Jalen Smereck also assisted on the play.
Flint wasted no time to earn the lead as they then scored on a two man-advantage. Following a broken stick, Firebirds' equipment manager Mike Hildenbrand was prepared with Smereck's backup stick to keep him on the ice. Then, Nicolas Mattinen (Toronto Maple Leafs) from the left point faked a shot and slid the puck to Smereck who wasted no time getting back into the play. The rearguard from Detroit, Mich. took a shot from the high slot, which Spirit goaltender Evan Cormier stopped, the puck came loose and Connor Roberts was on the spot to tap home the rebound at 16:22. It was Robert's seventh goal of the year and fourth with the Firebirds. Nicolas Mattinen drew the second assist.
Flint scored an apparent third goal on the back end of the power-play but the goal was disallowed after it was ruled that the whistle had blown the play dead before the puck crossed the net.
Bollers' second of the game evened things up 42 seconds into the second period. Bollers converted on a terrific pass while in front of the Firebirds goal from Brady Gilmour (Detroit Red Wings).
Cole Coskey scored a highlight reel goal that put the Spirit up 3-2 and proved to be the winning tally, making a nice deke on a Firebird defender before moving in on goal and finishing the play from his back-hand, beating Cavallin on the glove side at 16:02.
With five seconds left in the middle period and the Spirit on the power-play, Cavallin made the save of the game robbing Nicholas Porco on the door-step with a great pad save. Keaton Middleton's shot from the left point was stopped by Cavallin and Porco was there for the rebound. Cavallin stretched his left pad out to stop the scoring chance, sending the Firebirds into the intermission down by only one goal.
Jack Wismer made a bid to tie the game early in the third period and was stopped by Cormier who was spread on the side of the net. It was a big stop and the Spirit fed off the save by scoring twice, 25 seconds apart. Ryan Stepien scored at 8:35 and DJ Busdeker followed at 8:50.
Jenkins made it 6-2 at 14:08 beating Cavallin on the glove side to finish off the scoring in the game.
The Firebirds scored the only power-play goal going 1-for-5 and were a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty-kill. Saginaw out-shot Flint 38-31.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will play their third consecutive road game when the club faces-off on the road against the Sarnia Sting next Friday, Jan. 5. Puck drop is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena in Sarnia, Ont. Fans unable to attend the game can listen live on the radio throughout mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and worldwide online at www.us103.com. Pre-game coverage with Dominic Hennig begins 35 minutes prior to face-off at 6:30 p.m.
Next Home Game:
The Flint Firebirds return home to the Dort Federal Event Center next Saturday, Jan. 6 to start off the Firebirds' Fight Hunger month. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) vs. the Erie Otters. In partnership with the Foodbank of Eastern Michigan, fans can bring in five non-perishable food items to any Firebirds' home game in the month of January to receive a complimentary sponsored silver level ticket, limit of four tickets per person.
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 ticket information, flex tickets or group outings, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (810) 701-8536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To book a private suite, please contact Karla Turner at (810) 744-0580 ext. 213 or email email@example.com.
Images from this story
Spirit Capture I-75 Divide Cup with Come-From-Behind Victory