Keppen Records 100th-Career OHL Point in 8-5 Victory Sunday
Kingston, Ont. - The Firebirds picked up three points in three days, capped by an 8 - 5 triumph over the Frontenacs in Kingston Sunday afternoon. Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) lit the lamp for the first time since joining Flint at the trade deadline. Ethan Keppen (Vancouver Canucks) scored twice, earning his 100th and 101st career points in the OHL. Jake Durham scored, bringing him just two pots from tying former Firebird Ryan Moore for the second-most all-time (72), and he added three assists. Defenseman Riley McCourt also lit the lamp, and is now just one-point shy of the all-time record among Flint rearguards at 90. It was the captain Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) who led the offense, however, with a five-point game (2G, 3A).
Luke Cavallin made 20 saves on 24 shots before Anthony Popovich entered the contest and stopped 7 of 8 shots-against. Flint's penalty-kill remained perfect, while special teams scored two power-play markers.
The game's first goal was initiated by a great kick-save from Luke Cavallin against an odd-man, shorthanded rush. The puck was gathered on the right wall by Ty Dellandrea, and he carried ahead through the neutral zone. At the right-wing half-boards, Dellandrea hit Riley McCourt streaking up the middle and the defenseman lifted a wrister into the top corner, glove-side. The power-play goal was McCourt's 12th of the season, assisted by Dellandrea at 12:47 of the opening frame.
Next, Riley Piercey fed Dennis Busby (Arizona Coyotes) at the right point just past the 17-minute mark. Busby walked the line toward the center of the zone before snapping a low shot toward the net that was deflected by Jake Durham in front. It was Durham's 17th of the season, logged at 17:19.
First-period shots favored Flint 23 - 9, as did the faceoffs by a margin of 20 - 8. The 'Birds scored once on five power-play opportunities in the opening 20 minutes, and they held the Front's scoreless on one chance.
The OHL's most recent recipient of 'Exceptional Status' Shane Wright cut the deficit to one early in period two. Zayde Wisdom made a cross-ice pass from the right boards to Martin Chromiak on the left. Chromiak carried to the outer edge of the left-wing circle before centering the puck. Wright redirected it over Cavallin's outstretched right pad from the slot for his 21st of the season at 1:38 of the middle frame.
Less than three minutes later, Wright emerged on a two-on-one break with Chromiak to his left. Wright held on to draw the Flint defender before flicking the puck to his left, where Chromiak redirected it up and over the diving netminder for his fourth of the campaign at 4:21.
Kingston scored their third and claimed their first lead of the afternoon just past the game's midway point. Francesco Arcuri carried into the zone along the right wall. As he stickhandled through the circle a Flint rearguard knocked the puck loose briefly. Arcuri was able to regain control and snap a shot far-side and in for his fifth at 10:37. Lucas Rowe and Braden Hache combined for the assists.
Then, Arcuri knocked down a Firebirds' clearing attempt and chipped the puck right to Kallaway Mercer all alone in the left-wing circle. Mercer skated on goal uncontested and lifted the puck into the near-side top corner from point-blank range for his second of the season at 14:12. Anthony Popovich took over goaltending duties immediately following Mercer's tally.
Flint captain Ty Dellandrea decided to take control of the tilt, scoring two unanswered to tie the game at four before the second intermission. First, he picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated to the right around a defender before lifting a wrister back to his left. The puck went just inside the far post for Dellandrea's 19th of campaign at 15:29, unassisted.
Then, in the final half-minute of the second period, Owen Lalonde pinched in on the play on the right point, which stymied the Frontenacs' clearing attempt. He poked the puck to Durham in the right corner, and Durham sent it behind the cage to Dellandrea on the left. The captain carried up the left-wing wall to point and then walked the line across the top of the zone. From the top of the right circle, Dellandrea wristed a hard shot across his body, through traffic and just inside the far post at 19:44 that knotted the game at four.
Kingston outshot Flint 16 - 12 in the second period, but still trailed 35 - 25 through 40 minutes of play. Draws were tilted in favor of the 'Birds 30 - 18, and Flint's penalty-killers stayed hot, shutting down two Frontenacs' opportunities with the man-advantage.
The Firebirds reclaimed the lead at 4:05 of the third period, and scored three-in-a-row in less than four minutes. On the power play, Busby attempted a backhand pass from the top of the right circle that was deflected in the slot to Cody Morgan just right of the net. Morgan's initial shot was saved but Ethan Keppen redirected it under netminder Christian Propp for his 14th.
Three minutes later, Dellandrea took a pass from Busby and centered to a charging Tyler Tucker (St. Louis Blues) on the left-wing side. Piercey lifted a wrist-shot that found paydirt top-shelf, far side for his first as a Firebird, logged at 7:09.
Keppen scored his second, again assisted by Morgan at 7:46 to earn Flint the 7 - 4 advantage. Morgan found Keppen open at the top of the right circle, and the Canuck's prospect dropped to one knee to get all the mustard on a one-timer that beat Propp far-side. Busby picked up the second helper on the goal.
Jakob Brahaney scored his third of the season on a wrister from the inner edge of the right-wing circle to pull the Front's within a pair at 10:19. The assists went to Nick Wong and Dustin Hutton.
Riley Piercey scored the eighth goal for the 'Birds at 15:15 in similar fashion to Keppen's second marker. Dellandrea carried across the blue line on the left side and fed Durham along the wall. Durham made the cross-ice pass that led to Piercey dropping to his knee and rifling a one-time home for his 12th of the season and third in a Firebirds' sweater.
Flint finished one shot shy of tying the franchise's all-time record of 47, compared to Kingston's 32. The 'Birds' final advantage in the faceoffs was 41 - 27. In total, Flint scored on two-of-eight power-play chances, and kept the Front's scoreless in three.
Ty Dellandrea was named the game's 'First Star,' with Dennis Busby getting 'Second Star' honors. The 'Third Star' went to Kingston's Francesco Arcuri.
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