(photo: Natalie Shaver)
Flint, Michigan – After loading up the bus and setting up shop at the Dort Financial Center, it was finally time to open the Ontario Hockey League season for the Erie Otters. A Saturday night affair with the Flint Firebirds awaited the Otters, looking to continue the success of their preseason. With a mostly-complete lineup together thanks to the returns of Connor Lockhart and Daniel D’Amato from NHL Camps, all that was left was to drop the puck.
Erie came out of the gates flying in the first period, quickly jumping out to a 5-2 shots advantage, but was unable to capitalize on a decent selection of scoring opportunities. As Flint was able to get its feet underneath them, shots started to normalize to the tune of a 9-8 shots advantage at the end of 20. Outside of the heavy offense out of the gate, the period maintained relative steadiness, with puck possession for either side in their offensive-end down the final 10 of the period. In the penalty department, all was clean-sheet aside from a high-sticking from Elias Cohen that came and went with no harm done. After one, the score remained the same as it started, 0-0.
With the second period continuing the scoreless storyline nearly through the full 20, tensions started to flare from either side, and a number of behind-the-play extracurriculars started to amount. An early interference gave the Otters a chance on the power play, but a boarding from Brendan Hoffmann negated it prematurely. The two teams would swap penalties back-and-forth to no prevail, before the Firebirds would commit a late-period high-stick to put the Otters on their second power play of the evening. After a turnover in the offensive end, Braeden Kressler would race down the ice and fire a shot from the top-left circle, beating Nolan LaLonde for the first goal of the evening with 2:11 left in the second. Flint would take a 1-0 lead to the break, having a 23-22 advantage in shots.
Tempers from the previous period would carry over, culminating in Cameron Morton (A) and Riley Piercey dropping the gloves just :24 into the new frame. As a result of the actions leading up to the fight, the Otters would find themselves on a 5-on-3 power play for two full minutes. Erie would go fruitless on the two-man advantage opportunity, leaving the game still a 1-0 Flint lead. With momentum on their side, the Firebirds would strike again, with Coulson Pitre finding pay-dirt just 6:26 into the final period for a 2-0 Flint lead. Things would go from bad to worse. :30 later, Brennan Othmann would be slashed enroute to the net by Spencer Sova, and be awarded a penalty shot – which he would bury for a 3-0 lead. Erie would have another opportunity on the 5-on-3 halfway through the period, but would be unable to score, and ultimately fall in the contest, 3-0.
The Otters finished 0/4 on the power play, but 2/2 on the penalty kill, and outshot the Firebirds 35-33. Erie returns to Flint on Thursday, October 14 for the first of a three-game weekend in Michigan, closing out the trip with a Saturday/Sunday pair in Saginaw to open the Spirit season. The Otters open up the home portion of their schedule on Saturday, October 23 against Saginaw at the Erie Insurance Arena.
For the latest Otters news, visit OttersHockey.com, or follow the team on Facebook (Facebook.com/erieottershockey), Twitter (@ErieOtters), and Instagram (@ErieOtters).
For further information on the Erie Otters and for media inquiries, please contact Shawn Bednard at firstname.lastname@example.org.