Pitre’s Hat Trick Propels Firebirds to 7-4 Win
LONDON, Ont. — Coulson Pitre netted a natural hat trick, Braeden Kressler had a goal and two assists and Nolan Dann dished out a pair of assists as the Flint Firebirds cruised past the London Knights, 7-4, on Friday night at the Budweiser Gardens. Markas Samenas netted his first OHL goal and Nathan Day turned aside 26 shots in the win.
The Birds came out flying early in the game and struck twice in the opening period. It began when Jimmy Lombardi carried the puck below the goal line and hit Samenas at the top of the crease. He flicked a wrist shot low through Michael Simpson and the score was 1-0.
Nearly 12 minutes later, Dann flipped a puck skyward to clear the defensive end. As a Knights’ defender positioned to receive the high flip, Pitre lifted his stick, took the puck and carried to the right circle. He sniped a shot low on the glove side for his first of the night.
Dann and Pitre connected again in the middle frame. This time Dann carried into London ice on the right and flipped a backhand saucer past two defenders to Pitre on the far side of the slot for a one-timer. He directed it past Simpson for his second of the night to make it 3-0.
That would be it for Simpson who was pulled after allowing three goals on 22 shots.
Flint kept piling it on and struck again with a power play goal. Kaden Pitre took the puck below the goal line and found Coulson Pitre inside the left circle. He flicked a snap shot through traffic and past Owen Willmore. Pitre completed the natural hat trick and pushed the lead to 4-0.
Shy of the midway point of the game, Jacob Julien picked a Firebird’s pocket at the blue line and created a shorthanded breakaway. He skated left to right across the slot and tucked the puck between the pads to get his Knights on the board. Less than a minute later the Birds struck again with their second power play marker. Kressler sent a shot toward the front of the net and Simon Slavicek tipped it past Willmore for the 5-1 advantage.
Julien netted his second of the night off a rebound from the slot to make it 5-2. Then, Kressler scored his tenth of the season as Gavin Hayes found him wide open in the slot for the 6-2 lead.
Kasper Halttunen brought the Knights back within three on a one-timer from the slot. Then, Sam Dickonson sent a shot through traffic to pull the home squad within a pair.
Willmore was called to the bench with four minutes to go, but a late penalty took the wind out of the Knights’ sails. Hayes was the beneficiary, hitting the empty cage for his team-leading 13th goal to secure the victory.
The Birds went 3-for-5 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill, Pitre’s hat trick was the first of his OHL career and Hayes recorded his 150th career OHL point. The Firebirds improved to 9-8-1-1 while London dropped to 13-6-0-1.
Flint will now return home on Friday night to take on the Owen Sound Attack. It’s 90’s Night at the Dort Financial Center and puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.
Story: Brandon Mills // flintfirebirds.com