Firebirds return bid fails in Crazy Tilt with Spitfires


October 22, 2022 – Ontario Hockey League (OHL) – Flint Firebirds Press Release

Sarnia, Ont. – For the second time in three nights, the Flint Firebirds took on the Sarnia Sting with the series moving to Progressive Auto Sales Arena tonight for the first time this year. Friday night’s action was a heated affair that saw the Firebirds take care of Sarnia in overtime, 4-3. Tyler Deline scored the game-winning goal in overtime while adding two assists to earn First Star honors. In his first game this year, Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs) added a goal and an assist to earn Third Star honors. Sandis Vilmanis was named second star. Just like Wednesday, Will Cranley got the start in net for the Firebirds and Benjamin Gaudreau (San Jose Sharks) for the Sting.

Strong points

The match started with a bang after 19 seconds. After a face-off in the offensive zone, Nolan Burke of the Sting fired a quick shot to tie the game. Cranley didn’t know where he was until he looked for the puck behind him. The replay showed Dmitry Kuzmin kept the puck out of the net behind Cranley and the ice call was originally no score. However, after a review, officials overturned the call, giving Burke his sixth of the year.

The Firebirds wouldn’t let him rest for long. Tyler Deline sent a pass off the boards and to center ice. Simon Slavicek picked up the puck and rounded Chandler Romeo (Ottawa Senators) to find himself alone on Gaudreau. He fired the puck to his backhand and covered it upstairs to tie the game with his first of the year. James Petrovski added the secondary pass on the tying goal at 5:59 from the first.

After being unable to convert with a power play late in the first, Sarnia eventually regained the lead in the final minute of the first. Nolan Burke’s big pass to Ty Voit (Toronto Maple Leafs) on offense ended up on Voit’s stick all alone at the backdoor to bury his sixth of the year at 19:06. Romeo landed the second assist.

Flint outshot the Bees 12-9 in the first quarter and killed the only penalty of the period. Sarnia beat the Birds 13-4.

A fiery middle stanza saw each team grab a chance for a power play, several four-on-fours took place and a few leftovers as well. Finally, the Firebirds tied things up. Amadeus Lombardi (Detroit Red Wings) sent the puck to Gavin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks) at the top of the zone, he turned around and fired one towards the net. Brennan Othmann (New York Rangers) sent the puck past Gaudreau’s right pad to tie the game at 16:34 into the period. It was Othmann’s eighth league-leading goal of the year.

The Sting beat the Firebirds 12-10 in the 2nd while also outscoring them in the point 10-7.

Both teams continued to fill the penalty box early in the third period. Flint had back-to-back powerplay chances in the first 10 minutes of the period, but couldn’t beat Gaudreau.

Finally, they got the green light. During the power play, with less than four minutes left, Luca D’Amato and Tyler Deline remaining played along the blue line. Deline finally let a shot past and Braeden Kressler (Toronto Maple Leafs) tipped it home while crossing the slot to give the Firebirds a 3-2 lead with 3:47 remaining.

Sarnia would not go quietly. In the final minute, the Firebirds found themselves deep in their own end. Sees sent it to the point for Ryan Mast (Boston Bruins) who passed one. As Cranley fought through a screen, the rebound kicked his right leg and ended up on top of the top circle where Sandis Vilmanis found him and blasted him high off the side of the glove to tie the three-way match with 57 seconds remaining.

All that meant for Sarnia was an extra point as both teams headed into a 3-on-3 overtime that didn’t last long. Tyler Deline, Zacharie Giroux and Braeden Kressler executed a perfect breakout play from their own end to enter the offensive zone. Kressler received the pass from Giroux on the other end, skated across the boards and found Deline who slid into the slot and housed the game winner exactly 2:00 into overtime.

The final shots went 36-32 in favor of the Sting, they also won the face-off battle 35-24. The Firebirds went 1-for-5 with the man advantage, making it three straight games where they scored a power-play goal, and went a perfect 3-for-3 by a man.

Next up: The Firebirds return home this Saturday to host the Windsor Spitfires for the first time since dropping out of the Western Conference Finals in Game 7 to wrap up last year’s record-breaking campaign. Saturday’s game will be Hockey Fights Cancer Night, benefiting the McLaren Flint Foundation. 50/50 proceeds will also go to the McLaren Flint Foundation. The Firebirds will wear lavender-colored jerseys recognizing all cancers with different-colored ribbons in the numbers. A live jersey auction will follow the end of the game. Tickets for Saturday’s Rivalry Battle at 7 p.m. ET are available now from Etix.

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The views expressed in this release are those of the organization that issued it and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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