Firebirds Force Overtime with 1.9 Seconds Remaining, Fall in Shootout in North Bay Thursday
North Bay, Ont. - The Flint Firebirds had a dramatic finish to tie the game on a goal scored by Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) with 1.9 seconds remaining in regulation but the North Bay Battalion held on to win by a shootout decision, 4-3, Thursday night in front of 2,307 at the North Bay Memorial Gardens.
Smereck scored twice in the game as part of a three-point night that ran his game point streak to five consecutive games. Smereck opened the scoring in the first period and tied the game at 19:58 of the third period. On his birthday, C.J. Clarke scored the Firebirds’ second goal to put the team ahead early in the middle frame. Ty Dellandrea added an assist on the final goal for the Firebirds to extend his point streak to six games and Colella, who also assisted on the equalizer and scored the lone shoot-out goal for the Firebirds, ran his point streak to three games.
Garrett Forrest was extremely busy as he faced 40 shots and came away with 37 saves.
Luke Burghardt and Matthew Struthers each had a goal and an assist for the Battalion and Kyle Potts, potted a single marker. Adam McMaster and Adam Thilander scored in the shoot-out for North Bay. Goaltender Christian Propp was tough in net as he stopped 25 of 28 shots.
North Bay got off to a fast start, scoring 59 seconds in. Jake Henderson from behind the left corner laid a perfect pass to Kyle Potts in the slot who beat Forrest glove-side. For Potts it was his ninth of the season. Adam McMaster also assisted on the play.
Then, Jalen Smereck with a seeing eye shot from sixty-feet out beat Battalion goaltender Christian Propp. Propp never saw the fluttering shot. Smereck’s seventh goal of the year came at 12:29, tying the contest at 1-1. The goal was unassisted.
Forrest came up with a couple of dandy saves stopping first Adam McMaster on a breakaway and moments later turned the trick on Brandon Coe with a point-blank save from the top of the goal crease. Both saves came with less than six minutes left. Forrest was a rock in net as he stopped all but one of the 18 shots from the Battalion. Flint registered 10 shots in the first 20 minutes.
Smereck and C.J. Clarke combined to put the Firebirds in the lead 2-1 at 2:52 of the second period. Smereck threaded the needle with a pass that put Clarke in the clear, and in-stride, Clarke fired his 10th goal of the season past Propp on the stick side.
Luke Burghardt scored a power-play goal at 18:16 to tie the game. Burghardt’s shot went off Forrest from the left-circle, who was partially screened by Justin Brazeau. Jesse Saban and Matthew Struthers assisted on the play.
Forrest was once again busy as he faced 13 shots in the middle frame as opposed to Flint’s six shots. The Firebirds offense went into defense mode after the go-ahead goal having to face four minor penalties in the period. Flint was able to kill off the first three until Burghardt tied the game with the man-advantage.
Early in the third period and while shorthanded, Ty Dellandrea had a short-handed breakaway and made a nice backhand-forehand move but a stretched out Propp was able to make the acrobatic save.
The goal ahead goal came on a quick 2-on-1 for the Battalion. Burghardt picked up the puck and slid a cross-ice pass past a sliding Firebirds’ defenseman to Struthers who he scored his 15th goal of the year from in front at 9:49.
With 1:30 to play in the game, the Firebirds pulled goaltender Forrest for the extra attacker and then drew a penalty to force a 6-on-4 man-advantage. Smereck was robbed by Propp with less than 30 seconds to play and it seemed the game might be over but the Firebirds didn’t quit and fired the equalizer in with 1.9 seconds remaining. Smereck, when given another chance, scored the power-play marker as he took the puck from Colella at the right wall and let a quick shot go with a screen in front to send the game into overtime. Colella and Dellandrea drew the assists on Smereck’s second goal of the game.
10 seconds into the overtime Brazeau hit the cross-bar and seconds later Forrest made a great save to deny Adam Thilander. The Battalion managed to hit another goal post again by Brazeau. The play was reviewed but stood as no goal. The five minute extended play failed to provide a winner and the game went to the shoot-out.
Colella was the first shooter for the Firebirds and he scored five hole with a shot that went low along the ice.
McMaster tied the shoot-out as the second shooter beating Forrest on the short side.
Clarke failed to score as the third shooter and Brazeau was stopped on a nice glove save from Forrest. Dellandrea was stopped on a highlight-reel trapper save from Propp setting up the last shot from Thilander who he scored the winner glove side.
North Bay out shot Flint 40-28. The Firebirds went 1-for-4 on the power-and were 4-for-5 on the penalty kill. Jalen Smereck was the second star for the Firebirds.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will travel to Sudbury Thursday night for a Friday evening tilt at 7 p.m. The game will be televised live in Sudbury on channel 10 / 610 (HD) for Eastlink TV cable subscribers and across the province of Ontario on channel 447 for both Rogers TV & Cogeco TV cable subscribers. In addition, the game can be heard on the radio throughout Flint & Mid-Michigan on US 103.1 FM and worldwide online at www.us103.com.
Photo Credit: Amanda Ray / Flint Firebirds