lint, Mich. - Both Maurizio Colella and Connor Roberts recorded two point nights, CJ Clarke increased his goal-streak to four games and five different Firebirds lit-the-lamp but the Barrie Colts hung on to win 5-3 at the Dort Federal Event Center Wednesday night.
The contest was a tale of four streaks. Flint scored two unanswered goals in the first period to claim a two-nothing lead after 20 minutes. The Colts then responded with five consecutive goals in the second period. The Firebirds then scored three straight to tie the game at five. From there, Barrie had another scoring streak, this time with three unanswered to wrap up an 8 - 5 victory at the Dort Federal Event Center.
To launch the scoring, Ethan Keppen made a strong play deep in the left-wing corner along the end boards, winning the battle with the Colts’ defender. He sprung free and tried to muscle the puck home short-side on netminder Leo Lazarev. The goalie held tight to the post, denying the initial shot. Keppen grabbed his own rebound and skated behind the net, attempting a quick wrap-around from Lazarev’s left. Again the attempt was stymied, but this time the loose puck found its way to the top of the crease. Jack Wismer was there to light the lamp, earning his sixth of the season and giving the ‘Birds the lead 12:47 into the opening frame. Keppen earned the assist for his efforts.
Less than five minutes later, Ty Dellandrea gained control of the puck at his own blue line. He passed ahead to Maurizio Colella, who found a streaking Connor Roberts in front of the players’ benches. Roberts gained the zone and fired a long-range low shot from the top of the right circle. Lazarev made the pad save, sending a rebound to the left-wing boards. Fedor Gordeev (Toronto Maple Leafs) pinched in on the play, gathering the rebound at the top of the circle. He stick-handled to the high slot, shaking a defender along the way. He fired a shot that beat Lazarev far-side, above the pad and below glove. It was Gordeev’s sixth of the year, extending his point-streak to three games. Roberts collected the lone assist on the play.
First-period shots favored the visiting Colts early on, but wound up in Flint’s favor 13 - 11.
The Colts took over early in the second period, scoring back-to-back goals 44 seconds apart. First, Ben Hawerchuck logged his 11th of the season 4:53 into the middle frame. Zachary Magwood and Ryan Suzuki assisted on the tally. At 5:37, Lucas Chiodo scored his 20th of the campaign, assisted by Aaron Luchuk (Ottawa Senators).
Over the next 13 minutes of second-period play, Barrie scored three more unanswered goals. Tyler Tucker’s second goal of the season was scored from the point at 10:15, with a helper from Justin Murray. Joey Keane scored his eighth of the season, also from the blue line, to give Barrie a 4 - 2 lead with 5:47 left to play in the second. TJ Fergus claimed the lone assist. The fifth unanswered goal for the Colts came from off stick of Jaden Peca on two-on-one one-timer at the right circle, his 13th. Aidan Brown and TJ Fergus gathered the assists.
As the final seconds of the seemingly endless middle frame ticked down, the Firebirds controlled play in the offensive zone. Maurizio Colella collected a loose puck in the slot, and slid a short-range pass to Ty Dellandrea at the mouth of the goal crease on Lazarev’s glove side. Dellandrea’s shot was disrupted by the Barrie defense, but Roberts found the rebound and struck paydirt with 8.4 seconds on the clock. It was Roberts' second point of the night and 15th goal of the season. With the assists, Colella extended his point-streak to six games.
After two periods of play, the visiting Colts held the lead 5 - 3. Barrie also held the lead in shots by a margin of 28 - 23.
Max Kislinger brought the ‘Birds back within one early in the third, scoring his eighth of the season at 1:15. Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) had dumped the puck into the offensive zone off the right-wing boards. It was picked up briefly by a Colts’ defender, where Kislinger quickly forced a turnover, intercepting a pass. His ensuing wrist-shot was fired past Lazarev far-side, top-shelf. The unassisted goal was the eighth of the season for the Farchant, Germany native.
C.J. Clarke then tied the game at five just 22 seconds later, much to the delight of the fans at the Dort Federal Event Center. Jalen Smereck made the breakout pass to Clarke, who made fancy spin-o-rama move as he transversed the right-wing circle. Before reaching the goal line, he slowed up and fired a wrister that surprised Lazarev and brought the fans to their feet. Smereck and Riley McCourt earned the assists on the tally. Clarke now has goals in four consecutive games.
To say the game became a hard-hitting affair for the balance of regulation would be an understatement. With Jalen Smereck in the box on a slashing minor, Dmitry Sokolov (Minnesota Wild) scored the game’s first power-play goal. It was Sokolov’s 35th of the season, assisted by Luchuk and Fergus at 11:42 of the third. Luchuk would then score his team-leading 41st goal at 15:05, assisted by Sokolov and Chiodo.
With a late power-play opportunity, Flint would pull Forrest and skate six-on-four in hopes of a comeback. Barrie’s first shot at the empty net was stopped with a kick-save by Jalen Smereck. The second shot attempt at the vacant cage found its way home, giving the Colts an 8 - 5 victory. Tucker was credited with his third of the season. The eight goals allowed ties the all-time record for goals-allowed in Flint. The final shots on goal favored Barrie 38 - 28
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds will host in-state rival Saginaw Spirit for the third-annual "Flint Tropics Night" this Saturday, Feb. 17. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. at the Dort Federal Event Center.
Photo Credit: Danen Williams / Flint Firebirds Hockey Club
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