Flint, Mich. - Ty Dellandrea scored the tying-goal with 54 seconds remaining in regulation before Fedor Gordeev lit-the-lamp for the game-winning tally 49 seconds into overtime en-route to a Firebirds' 3-2 victory over the Saginaw Spirit at the Dort Federal Event Center Wednesday. With the win, Flint improved to 11-9-0-2 all-time against Saginaw and are 7-2-0-2 on home-ice vs. the Spirit.
The Firebirds scored the first goal of the night for the second time in as many games. They scored on the power play for the 11th time in the past 14 games. Ty Dellandrea notched two regulation goals. Gordeev added an assist for a two-point night from the blue line. Between the pipes, Garrett Forrest made 37 saves on 39 shots from Saginaw’s high-powered offense.
Less than five minutes into the game and with the man-advantage, Hakon Nilsen headmanned the puck to Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) up the left-wing wall. Gordeev stick-handled past a defender at the blue line and skated in on goal. Dellandrea rushed in from the right-wing side. Gordeev made the tape-to-tape pass that snuck between the defender and netminder Evan Cormier (New Jersey Devils). Dellandrea banged it home for his 19th of the season, extending his point-streak to three games. He immediately pointed to Gordeev, acknowledging the set-up pass. Hakon Nilsen picked up the second assist on the same night that he was awarded the Firebirds' “OHL Academic Player of the Month.”
The first period concluded with Flint in the lead 1 - 0. The shots-on-goal favored the Firebirds 14 - 11.
Saginaw would tie the game, also on the power play, early in the second period. Keaton Middleton (Toronto Maple Leafs) took a shot from the left-point that was saved by Flint goaltender Garrett Forrest. The rebound remained in the slot where Cole Coskey managed to take three separate shots before knocking it out of midair and into the net for his 24th of the campaign. Middleton and Hayden Davis collected the assists.
At the 11:11 mark of the middle frame, Damien Giroux scored the first even-strength goal of the game, putting the Spirit ahead by one. Duncan Penman fired the puck toward the net from the blue line on the left-wing that was blocked in front. Giroux picked up the loose puck and held on with patience before sliding the puck on the ice past Forrest on the right-side of the goal.
Shots on goal in the second period favored the Spirit 16 - 14. Cormier made several big saves for Saginaw that included stone-walling breakaways by Maurizio Colella, Connor Roberts and Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes).
The score remained 2 - 1 in favor of the visiting Spirit until the final minute of regulation. Coach Ryan Oulahen called Forrest to the bench for the extra attacker. From the Firebirds' blue line, Smereck fired the puck up the right-wing wall to Connor Roberts at the Saginaw blue line. Roberts quickly dished a pass to a streaking Dellandrea just inside the left-wing circle. He controlled the puck long enough to cannon a wrist shot that beat Cormier between his left pad and glove.
At the end of regulation, shots on goal favored the visitors from Saginaw by a narrow margin; 38 - 37. On special teams, the Firebirds and Spirit were each one-for-four on the power play. Flint held the advantage in face-off wins 30 - 27.
In the five-minute sudden-death overtime period, Forrest made another big save that led to a two-on-none breakaway the other way. Gordeev and Roberts sprung out of the Firebirds' zone with no defenders ahead. Gordeev carried the puck across both blue lines and into the offensive end. Roberts stayed a half pace behind as they crossed the circles. The left-handed defender Gordeev deked from the forehand to his backhand before lifting the puck above Cormier's left pad, below his glove, and into the net. Flint needed just 49 seconds to seal the home-ice victory. For Gordeev, it was his second point of the night.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will host the Sarnia Sting this Friday night. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.