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Flint Firebirds fly past Brantford Bulldogs

Brantford BulldogsFlint Firebirds fly past Brantford Bulldogs

It was a rough night for the Brantford Bulldogs as they lost a 3-1 decision to the Flint Firebirds on Saturday, February 10, 2024.

The Bulldogs started the game strong and struck gold early. At the 2:22 mark, centreman Florian Xhekaj took the puck and made the breakaway after the Bulldogs caused a turnover in the neutral zone. Xhekaj then skated toward the Firebirds goal, utilized the Firebird’s defender as a decoy and shot the puck, which got past the right pad side of netminder Jacob Brown for his 21st goal of the season.

In the 7:41 mark, Firebirds right winger Oliver Peer tried to tie the game for the visitors, but Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac stood tall with an excellent left-pad save.

With 8:15 remaining in the period, the Bulldogs believed they extended their lead with a shorthanded goal. Left winger Marek Vanacker fired the puck up close. Brown made the initial save, but forward Patrick Thomas tucked the loose puck in the net, only for the official to waive the goal immediately.

Bulldogs got into penalty trouble for most of the second half of the opening period. The league’s sixth-ranked penalty kill unit successfully prevented the first two sessions.

Bulldogs G Matteo Drobac makes the save as D Cedrickson Okitundu and Flint Firebirds C Markas Samenas look on late in the first period.

Bulldogs defenceman Noah Roberts gave Firebirds right winger Matthew Wang a headbutt behind the Brantford net and was issued a five-minute match penalty. As a result, the Bulldogs had to finish the rest of the game with only five defencemen.

The Firebirds would then tie the game with 1:41 left. Defenceman Roberto Mancini passed the puck to left winger Nolan Dann, shooting the puck that went off the pads of Drobac and into the right side of the goal.

Both teams went into their dressing rooms tied at one apiece after a tight first twenty minutes of play.

Bulldogs RW Calvin Crombie is being checked by Flint Firebirds D Marko Stojkov in front of Firebirds G Jacob Brown (41) early in the second period.

In the second period, the Bulldogs penalty kill averted further damage, finishing the remaining three minutes of the Firebirds powerplay.

Midway through the period, Flint took the lead for good. On the powerplay at 9:44, defenceman Mancini quickly fed the puck to Dann, shooting the puck tipped in the net by right winger Alex Kostov on the screen in front of Bulldogs netminder Matteo Drobac.

The Firebirds thought they extended their lead with under eight minutes left. Centreman Johnny Lombardi’s pass from the centre part of their attacking zone to the left winger Dann, whose shot went upstairs past Drobac. The officials took another look and waived the goal off due to an offside. Despite the no-goal call and good offensive pressure by the Bulldogs, the visitors maintained a one-goal lead after forty minutes. 

Bulldogs D Daniil Sobolev (13) guards Flint Firebirds RW Oliver Peer (94) in front of Bulldogs G Matteo Drobac (45) early in the second period.

In the final period, the Bulldogs continued their barrage of shots against the Firebird’s netminder. The first golden opportunity came sixty-eight seconds into the period. Team captain Lawson Sherk shoots the puck and bounces it off the Firebird’s net. Forwards Adrian Rebelo and Cole Brown tried to capitalize by jamming the bouncing puck simultaneously in the crease, but the Firebirds netminder Brown kept the door shut with two great saves. Their next opportunity came at the 9:14 mark, as centreman Jake O’Brien made an excellent feed to left winger Luca Testa for a shot, only to be bounced off and wide of the Firebirds goal.

The Bulldogs put a great effort in the final frame, but we’re unable to solve the Flint netminder. Firebirds tallied one more with less than a minute left, courtesy of a turnover from the right winger Kostov. The right winger intercepted the puck from Bulldogs’ left winger Patrick Thomas and fired the puck into the empty net.

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