Flint, Mich. - Connor Roberts and Ryan Littlejohn each recorded a goal and rookie goaltender Luke Cavallin made 37 saves against the Sarnia Sting Friday night. However, the second-place Sting put forth a strong offensive effort to defeat the Firebirds 6 - 2 at the Dort Federal Event Center. Four Sarnia players, each with NHL ties, put up multiple points in the contest. Flint scored one power-play goal and killed five of seven short-handed situations.
The first shot of the game made its way through traffic and found twine above Cavallin’s right shoulder. The goal came 53 seconds into the first period. For Cam Dineen (Arizona Coyotes), it was the 16th of the season, assisted by Adam Ruzicka (Calgary Flames) and Michael Pezzetta (Montreal Canadiens).
The Firebirds would battle back and tie the game at 12:42. Jake Durham made a pass from behind the Sarnia goal that caromed around the boards to Jalen Smereck (Arizona Coyotes) at the left point. The high-scoring defenseman fired a shot that was blocked by a Sting player. Smereck controlled the deflected puck at the half-wall, then found Ryan Littlejohn racing in on the right-wing side. The tape-to-tape pass connected near the faceoff dot inside the right circle where Littlejohn one-timed it home, lighting the lamp for his third goal of the season.
The Sting held the edge in first-period shots 10 - 7.
The visitors would score a trio of goals in the middle frame. The first came with the man-advantage. Jordan Kyrou (St. Louis Blues) passed the puck down low to Sean Josling, who stick-handled to the right side of Cavallin. He attempted to pass the puck through the goal crease to his awaiting teammate, but the puck bounced off a Firebird defenseman's stick and through Cavallin's five hole at 4:36. The goal was Josling’s 20th of the season, assisted by Kyrou and Dineen.
Rookie defenseman Marko Jakovljevic scored his first career OHL goal at 9:51 of the second with a hard slapshot from the point. Again, the puck got past Cavallin after bouncing off a Flint defender in the crease. Jordan Ernst and Franco Sproviero were credited with the assists.
The final tally of the middle stanza came at 14:30 off the stick of Drake Rymsha (Los Angeles Kings), his 28th. Kyrou and Salinitri picked up the helpers after a Kyrou wrap-around that was initially denied by Cavallin with the right pad. Shots on goal after 40 minutes favored Sarnia 27 - 22, and Flint trailed 4 - 1.
Michael Pezzetta scored twice in the third, extending the Sting’s lead to 6 - 1. His first came just 51 seconds into the third period on a deflection, assisted by Ruzicka and Dineen. His second was also on a deflection recorded at 16:26, assisted by Ruzicka and Kyrou. Both goals were earned at even strength.
With exactly two minutes remaining in regulation, Connor Roberts picked up a power-play tally on a tic-tac-toe goal for his 16th of the season. Roberts, Ty Dellandrea and Maurizio Colella broke in on a three-on-one rush into the offensive zone. Colella carried the puck in the zone on the left-wing side before dropping the puck to Dellandrea in the high-slot. Dellandrea sent a quick pass right back to Colella, who then dished the puck cross-ice to Roberts. With Hughes trying to move laterally from his right to his left, Roberts was able to find space to bury the puck above the left pad.
Next up for Flint, the Firebirds host the Oshawa Generals Saturday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. Saturday is United Automobile Workers (UAW) / United Way Night. All UAW members will receive a $5 discounted silver level ticket with valid ID at the Dort Federal Box Office. Detroit author, Cynthia Lambert will be selling and signing copies of her book ‘Power Play: My Life Inside the Red Wings Locker Room.’ Fresh out of college, Lambert reported on the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL for The Detroit News for (12) seasons from 1986-1998. A portion of all book sales will be donated to the United Way of Genesee County. Additionally, there will be a T-shirt toss, sponsored by HAP.
Saturday's game also features the final contest for the HAP “Boots for Kids” donation drive. Fans who donate a new pair of kids boots to the Firebirds’ Merchandise Store will receive a complimentary sponsored silver level ticket to either game this weekend, sponsored by HAP.
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