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Firebirds Unable to Prevail in Back-And-Forth Thriller in Saginaw

February 2, 2019 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) - Flint Firebirds News Release

Saginaw, Mich. - Despite the Firebirds jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first period, Saginaw finished with a 6-4 victory, including an empty net tally, in front of a sold out Dow Event Center of 5,622 fans Saturday night. Ethan Keppen continued his red-hot play, scoring two goals in the contest. Luke Cavallin made 47 saves on 52 shots between the pipes, and Jacob Winterton and Eric Uba each found paydirt.

The Firebirds lit the lamp twice in the first period to take the early lead. First, Cody Morgan won an offensive zone face-off back to Dennis Busby at the left point. Busby rifled a heavy shot into traffic that was eventually deflected by Ethan Keppen in front of the net for his 19th of the season, recorded at 5:38. Next, Eric Uba carried through the neutral zone and along the right-wing boards. He took a hit at the outer edge of the right-wing circle, but maintained control of the puck. He flipped a backhand to Jacob Winterton at the bottom of the circle. Winterton sniped a wide-angle shot that snuck into the top corner of the net, near-side. The goal was Winterton's ninth of the season, scored at 16:48.

Saginaw tallied a pair late in the opening frame to tie things up before the first intermission. Blade Jenkins (New York Islanders) scored his 19th at 17:07 on a redirection from the slot. Defenseman Reilly Webb (Detroit Red Wings) took the slapshot from the right point to earn the first assist. Mason Millman picked up the second helper. Then, Camaryn Baber scored gloveside for his fifth of the season and second against Flint in two nights. Albert Michnac set Baber up for a heavy one-timer high between the circles that resulted in a tie game at 18:34. Jake Goldowski was credited with the second assist.

The Spirit outshot the Firebirds 20 - 12 in the first period.

Baber continued his hot streak against Flint, picking up his second assist while setting up Michnac's 14th of the season at 3:01. Baber was in the left circle and found Michnac with space in the right circle who banked the puck in off the left pad of Cavallin. Cole Coskey increased Saginaw's lead to two scoring his 28th of the season on a backhander from the left face-off dot. Nicholas Porco and Ryan McLeod (Edmonton Oilers) picked up the helpers on the goal, recorded at 10:41 of the second period.

Flint answered with two consecutive goals to the tie the contest. Ethan Keppen cut the deficit to a single goal at 12:53 with his second of the game. Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) flipped a backhand pass from the left half-boards to Busby between the circles. Busby fed the puck to the right circle where Keppen dropped to a knee and scored five-hole. Eric Uba scored his 17th of the season at 17:53 to tie the game. Evan Vierling made a quick touch-pass in the neutral zone to Uba who carried to the top of the left circle before firing the puck off a Spirit defenseman and into the top corner, far side. Riley McCourt had the second assist.

With 56 seconds remaining in the second period, Cole Perfetti found twine for his 22nd of the season, assisted by Brady Gilmour (Detroit Red Wings) and Owen Tippett (Florida Panthers). Second period shots were 17 - 12 in Saginaw's favor, resulting in a two-period advantage of 37 - 24.

The third period was a great physical battle on both ends of the ice. It was 5-4 Saginaw for the duration of the third period. However, in the final minute and change, Flint called Cavallin to the bench for the extra attacker. The Spirit kept Flint off the scoreboard, and managed to put one into the empty net to secure a 6 - 4 decision. Third period shots were 16 - 13 in favor of the Spirit, for a 60-minute edge of 53 - 37. In the face-off circles, Flint won 42 to Saginaw's 34.

Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will play three road games in three consecutive nights beginning this Thursday in North Bay. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. (ET) at the North Bay Memorial Gardens.

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