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 Flint Firebirds

Firebirds Outlast Spitfires 3-2 in a Shootout, Remain in First Place in the West

February 19, 2022 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL)
Flint Firebirds News Release

Flint, Mich. - After five previous meetings without a victory, the Firebirds finally defeated the Spitfires on the year tonight, 3-2 in a shootout. Sahil Panwar and Samuel Assinewai scored in the shootout to give the Flint Firebirds the victory over the Windsor Spitfires on Youth Sports Night at Dort Financial Center. Ryan Abraham and Will Cuylle (New York Rangers) scored for the Spitfires, while Tag Bertuzzi and Riley Piercey found the back of the net for the Firebirds. Luke Cavallin made 51 saves en route to winning Second Star of the game awards.

The first period was meticulous as both teams were only able to carve out a few chances throughout a physical and penalty-ridden first frame. Flint found themselves on the power-play 3:23 into the first period when Windsor's Wyatt Johnston went to the penalty box for tripping. However, the Firebirds were only able to put one shot on Spitfires goaltender Mathias Onuska. Flint would eventually be outshot 15-9 in the frame.

Windsor would have two power-play opportunities early in the period but were unable to put anything past Luke Cavallin. Windsor, who scored two power-play goals in the first period last night, got a few good looks on Cavallin but were stymied by one of the league's best shot-stoppers. The Flint penalty-kill, which ranked third in the league heading into Saturday night's matchup, was a perfect three-for-three on the night.

With just under five minutes remaining in the first period, the Spitfires came within inches of making it 1-0 when Alex Christopoulos fired a shot off the post. Christopoulos received a pass just outside the Firebirds zone, skated towards the right faceoff circle and fired a shot that went past the glove hand of Cavallin and hit iron. Christopoulos' chance was the best for either team as the score remained 0-0 heading into the first intermission.

Windsor would open the scoring 1:31 into the second period when Ryan Abraham went around the entire Flint defense and snuck a shot through the legs of Cavallin. Abraham entered the Flint zone and skated past multiple Firebirds defenders before lowering his shoulder and barreling in on Cavallin who was unable to close the five-hole in time.

The Firebirds would answer four minutes later when Tag Bertuzzi found twine. Bertuzzi was able to receive a pass from Sahil Panwar along the boards and fired a sharp-angle shot past the left ear of Onuska and into the back of the net with just under six minutes played in the second period. The goal was Bertuzzi's second of the weekend after scoring the third goal in last night's contest.

Will Cuylle would reclaim the lead for Windsor when he scored his 28th goal of the season halfway through the second period. Cuylle, who was left alone in the slot, tipped in a shot-pass from Nathan Ribau past the glove hand of Cavallin to make it 2-1 with 10:30 left in the frame. Andrew Perrott would get the second assist on the goal for his second point of the game.

Flint would tie the game with 1:41 left in the second period when Riley Piercey scored his 21st goal of the season on the power-play. Flint would get their third power-play opportunity as Windsor's Oliver Peer would head to the box for tripping. After sustained pressure in the Windsor zone, Piercey received a cross-ice pass from Gavin Hayes and fired a wrist shot past the glove of Onuska and into the top right corner of the goal. Piercey's goal would be the last action of the second period as the teams heading into intermission tied 2-2.

The Firebirds were outshot in the middle frame 21-13 as Windsor amassed a 36-22 advantage in shots through the first 40 minutes. Both teams got on the power-play, but the Firebirds were the only team to capitalize on their opportunity.

Windsor would come out strong in the third period but were unable to capitalize on the sustained pressure in the Flint zone. Halfway through the period, Flint would have a chance to break the tie as Hayes sent a shot that fooled Onuska but hit the post and stayed out and the score remained 2-2.

Late in the third period, the Firebirds had the opportunity to take the lead. After matching unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were assessed to Windsor's Abraham and Flint's Hayes, the Firebirds took advantage of the open ice. Brennan Othmann had a breakaway opportunity and Amadeus Lombardi had a stuff attempt, but both chances were denied by Onuska. Those would be the final chances of the period as the score remained 2-2 after 60 minutes and headed to overtime.

Both teams would have their chances to end the game early into the overtime period. Windsor had a two-on-one as Pasquale Zito and Matthew Maggio entered the Flint zone, but Maggio was unable to put a return feed into the back of the net. The miss sprung Othmann forward for Flint on a breakaway but he was denied by Onuska. Onuska would later rob Tyler Deline on another breakaway as the game went to a shootout.

After both teams failed to score in the first round, Windsor's Daniel D'Amico scored to put the pressure on the Firebirds who were shooting second. In the third round, Flint's Sahil Panwar scored to extend the shootout into sudden death. The Firebirds would win the game in the eighth round when Samuel Assinewai fired the puck through the legs of Onuska, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and giving the Firebirds their first win over the Spits this year.

The Spits outshot the Firebirds 53-34 but went 0-for-3 with the man-advantage. Flint countered going 1-for-5 with the man-advantage. Windsor also outdrew Flint 35-32.

Next Up: The Firebirds will travel to Sarnia for a pair of road games Monday afternoon and Friday evening before returning home next Saturday to host the Sting in game three of three consecutive meetings. It will be Flint Generals Night at the Dort Financial Center with more information coming out early next week. Tickets are on sale NOW here: ETIX.

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