Ratcliffe, Storm overcome four-goal deficit, fall in OT to Firebirds

There was certainly no quit in the Guelph Storm on Friday night at the Sleeman Centre.

Down 3-1 to the Flint Firebirds at the end of the first period, and then 5-1 by the second, not many saw the Storm grabbing a point in the match-up.

However, a steady third period comeback fuelled by a hat trick from Philadelphia Flyers prospect, Isaac Ratcliffe, saw the Storm turn a four-goal deficit into a tie game, pushing the contest into extra time.

Despite the effort, the Firebirds scored 35 seconds into the overtime period, taking home the two points.

In a well-rounded effort that saw nine different players contribute a point for the Storm, rookies Keegan Steveson and Mason Primeau had the other goals for the home squad, while Liam Hawel registered two assists.

In the blue paint, Anthony Popovich started the game, but was relived by Nico Daws 7:28 into the contest following three goals on six shots. Daws, playing the remainder of the game, turned away 16 of 19 attempts.

For the Firebirds, Ty Dellandrea led the way with one goal and two assists, with Jake Durham not too far behind with two points on the night (one goal, one assist). Luke Cavallin was between the pipes, facing 41 Storm attempts, and turning aside 36 in the win.

The Firebirds opening the scoring just 1:38 in, only to double up on the lead 52 seconds later with goals from Maurizio Colella and Durham respectively.

Five minutes later, Dellandrea made it 3-0 for the Firebirds, prompting a goalie change for the Storm.

In the last minute of the period, Stevenson got the Storm on the board by crashing the net, making it a 3-1 contest with his third of the season.

Mirroring the opening of the first, though, the Firebirds scored 1:38 into the frame again – this time a tally from Ethan Keppen to restore Flint’s three-goal lead.

Just over three minutes later, the Firebirds seemed to be running away with the game as C.J. Clarke potted an unassisted tally to make it a 5-1 game before the mid-way point of the second.

Moving into the third, Ratcliffe subtly took control of the contest, starting with his first of the game 4:28 into the frame, capitalizing on the man-advantage for his 33rd of the year.

Before the end of the period, the six-foot-four, 204-pound winger would record his 35th goal of the season.

Although, not before Primeau got in on the action, registering his fifth of the season to make it a 5-3 game before the 10-minute mark of the third.

Next up in the comeback effort was back-to-back goals from Ratcliffe less than a minute apart, starting at the 12:43 point of the period, followed by his second power play marker of the game, making it a 5-5 tie – and completing the comeback – with under seven minutes remaining in the contest.

Falling just short of the storybook ending, however, the Firebirds secured the win 35 seconds into the three-on-three overtime period as Jalen Smereck potted his 10th of the season.

The Storm return to action on Saturday afternoon, visiting the Owen Sound Attack for a 2pm puck drop, followed by a return to the Sleeman Centre on Sunday for a matinee match-up with rivals, the Kitchener Rangers.

Flint Firebirds 6 (OT) at Guelph Storm 5 – Status: Final OT
Friday, March 2, 2018 – Sleeman Centre

Flint 3 2 0 1 – 6
Guelph 1 0 4 0 – 5

1st Period-1, Flint, Colella 20 (Dellandrea, Roberts), 1:38. 2, Flint, Durham 8 (Pilon, Keppen), 2:30. 3, Flint, Dellandrea 24 (Roberts, Colella), 7:28. 4, Guelph, Stevenson 3   19:13.

Penalties-Alexandrov Flnt (tripping), 3:15; Smereck Flnt (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 3:15; Ratcliffe Gue (unsportsmanlike cnd.), 3:15; Merkley Gue (interference), 10:30.

2nd Period-5, Flint, Keppen 8 (Alexandrov, Durham), 1:38. 6, Flint, Clarke 15   4:57.

Penalties-Harris Flnt (delay of game), 11:23; Poirier Gue (tripping), 14:09.

3rd Period7, Guelph, Ratcliffe 33 (McFadden, Hawel), 4:28 (PP). 8, Guelph, Primeau 5 (Lalonde, Woolley), 8:56. 9, Guelph, Ratcliffe 34 (Hawel, Toropchenko), 12:43. 10, Guelph, Ratcliffe 35 (Merkley), 13:35 (PP).

Penalties-McCourt Flnt (high sticking), 3:30; Roberts Flnt (roughing), 12:43; Collins Flnt (boarding), 16:29.

OT Period-11, Flint, Smereck 10 (Dellandrea, Colella), 0:35. Penalties-No Penalties

Shots on Goal-Flint 12-8-4-1-25. Guelph 15-7-19-0-41.
Power Play Opportunities-Flint 0 / 2; Guelph 2 / 5.
Goalies-Flint, Cavallin 6-15-0-1 (41 shots-36 saves). Guelph, Popovich 26-18-3-3 (6 shots-3 saves); Daws 1-6-1-1 (19 shots-16 saves).
Referees-Ryan Elbers (9), Mike Cairns (34).
Linesmen-Jean-Francois Menard (52), Mac Nichol (93).

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