The Mississauga Steelheads returned to action at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre on Friday evening. It was a chilly night outside the rink, however, inside was a different story in this high scoring tilt. 13 goals would be tallied in total.
The Flint Firebirds arrived at the Steelheads home rink looking to continue riding the momentum from a big win over Sarnia in their previous game. Mississauga, looking to get things back on track along the ice, were without a win in their last five games heading into the Friday night match-up.
Since the trade deadline, things have seemingly headed south for the Fish in recent days and therefore have slowly started falling down in the OHL standings. Mississauga now sits eighth in the Eastern Conference and only remains four points ahead of ninth place where the Barrie Colts currently stand. The Steelheads are only one point behind the seventh place Hamilton Bulldogs so the implications in the standings for Mississauga each game is crucial to say the least.
To the game action now and there was plenty of it between the two teams desperately in need of a registered victory. The Steelheads kicked off the offensive showdown just over five minutes into the contest. Newly acquired Nick Isaacson misses his shot wide of the net, however the puck caroms off the end boards right to Adam Varga and he banks it off Flint goaltender Emanuel Vella to make it 1-0 early in.
Playing with a one goal lead does not last long, as a minute and a half barley ticks off the clock and Jack Wismer ties things up for the Flint Firebirds. Plenty of pace to this game with both teams trading chances and at the half way mark of the period, the trio of Carter, Lyszczarczyk and Aidan Preuter with a pretty tic-tac-toe passing play regains the lead for Mississauga early on. The Flint Firebirds, not to be outdone, come right back two minutes later to answer on a goal from Emmet Pierce, ultimately tying the game up at 2 apiece after the first twenty minutes of play.
The action packed, four goal period ended even at two goals apiece and both teams headed to the dressing rooms to regroup for the second frame. Period two commences and these two teams get right back to where they left off. Six minutes pass by before Nick Isaacson finds himself alone in front of the Firebirds goal and deposits his first goal with his new club and makes it 3-2 Mississauga. The play seemed to settle down a little bit for a stretch of about five minutes until Jack Wismer buries his second of the game and once again ties things up for Flint at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.
If you sat in the crowd for this game, you got a work out standing and cheering with the amount of goals scored in this one, no matter what team you root for. The back and forth play resumes as a tie game at three’s until James Hardie cashes in his ninth goal of the year, once again regaining the one goal lead for the Steelheads making it 4-3. This time it would stick as the Steelheads on a night of firsts would add another to the list. With twenty seconds remaining in the second period of play, C.J. Clarke in his first game against his former team, the Flint Firebirds, deposits his first as a Mississauga Steelhead on a quick shot from the slot.
With the score 5-3 now heading into the third period, the Firebirds wasted no time cutting the lead in half. Forty-five seconds in, Vladislav Kolyachonok tallies the fourth goal of the game for Flint. Steelheads fans, there is no need to panic when Captain Cole Carter is playing and he buries his team leading twenty-seventh goal of the year making it 6-4. A few minutes later, Richard Whittaker would add some insurance for Mississauga as he adds his sixth goal of the year unassisted to make it 7-4.
Credit to the Firebirds who never quit in the game and kept answering the bell, Evan Vierling being their last source of production, scoring his second of the year with three minutes remaining. This would make it a little more interesting if it wasn’t already, trailing by two points in the dying minutes of the third and final frame. The Steelheads would put out the fire on the Firebirds in Mississauga as left-winger James Hardie tallies his second of the game and tenth of the year to make it 8-5 Steelheads.
That’s how it would end in a wild, offensive onslaught from both teams making it a very entertaining night for the fans, which got their money’s worth undoubtedly. The Steelheads put forty-three shots on net in their first win since before the trade deadline. Joe Ranger turned away twenty-three of twenty-eight shots for his second win of the season, his first of what may be many more wins to come in 2019.
Nick Isaacson and C.J. Clarke both tallied their first goals since joining the Steelheads while C.J. Clarke played against his former team for the first time since being dealt. All three stars of the game were awarded to Steelheads players. The first star was Aidan Prueter with a goal and assist in the game, the second star was awarded to Alan Lyszczarczyk who had two assists in the contest and the third star goes to James Hardie for his two goal effort in securing the win.
All in all, it was an exciting night for all Mississauga fans both in attendance and watching on TV, meanwhile, a confidence booster for the Steelheads heading into Sunday’s matinee against the Sting.