Buffalo, NY – Hunter Holmes, Ty Dellandrea and Kyle Harris were the goal scorers for Flint but Windsor’s Chris Playfair recorded two goals and an assist and Joseph Mizzi added a goal and two assists to lead the Spitfires to a 4-3 victory in the exhibition opener. The game was played at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, NY as part of the inaugural OHL Pre-Season Showcase.
Both teams had 40 shots on goal. Flint scored the lone special-teams goal on a power-play late in the second period.
The Firebirds carried the majority of the play in the opening frame, recording the only tally, although the shots were tied at 12 after 20 minutes.
Hunter Holmes scored the first goal of the 2017 pre-season at 7:16 of the first period after extra-effort attempts from teammates Jake Durham and defensemen Dennis Busby. Busby, made a smart pinching-play to keep the puck in the Windsor zone, which allowed Durham to send a feed to Holmes in the slot from the left corner. As a left-handed shot forward, Holmes moved the puck to his backhand and slid it under the left pad of Windsor’s Brock Baier to earn Flint a 1-0 lead.
Garrett Forrest started in goal for the Firebirds and made three outstanding saves, the best coming with less than six minutes to play in the first period, on his left side, denying a prime scoring chance with his glove.
Windsor scored three-straight goals in the second period before Flint got one back as both teams picked up the pace in the middle stanza.
Windsor forward Chris Playfair scored the first of his two goals at 5:52, tipping-in a shot from the point from Joseph Mizzi. The second assist went to defenseman Nick Gauvin.
Playfair scored his second goal 21 seconds later to go ahead for the first time in the game. Mizzi played a key role setting up the goal with Daniel D’Amico adding an assist.
Flint made a goaltending change at the midway point of the second period as rookie Luke Cavallin was inserted. Forrest was credited with 25 saves on 27 shots.
At 13:06, Mizzi scored the third goal for Windsor, recording his third point of the game, when he was able to backhand the puck over Cavallin’s shoulder to give Windsor a two-goal lead. Playfair drew an assist.
The Firebirds scored the lone power-play goal, just nine seconds into their first man-advantage of the season. Ty Dellandrea notched the tally with 22 seconds remaining in the middle frame, ripping the puck on goal from the left circle and getting his own rebound. Fedor Gordeev and C.J. Clarke added the assists to pull Flint within a goal as time expired in the second period. Windsor outshot Flint 18-13 in the middle frame.
After Cavallin made two nice saves on the door-step, the puck bounced off a Firebird player and into the net, eventually becoming the winning-goal at 1:45 of the third period.
Cavallin then made another good save to keep the Firebirds within striking distance, stopping Playfair on a breakaway while Flint was on the power-play.
Kyle Harris scored the final goal of the contest to bring the Firebirds within one at the 9:01 mark. Ethan Keppen dished a puck from the right corner to Harris at the circle who sent a laser of a shot off the right-connection and into the net. Zack Pilon also earned an assist. Despite a couple of late opportunities which included Littlejohn hitting a goal post and the Firebirds outshooting Windsor in the third period 15-10, Flint came up a goal short.
The Firebirds return back-to-action Saturday night as the club faces off against the Erie Otters. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. at the HarborCenter in Buffalo, NY. The game can be heard live throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and around the world online at www.us103.com.
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