Flint, Mich – The Flint Firebirds Hockey Club selected 16 players in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection held this Saturday, Apr. 8. Of the 16 new faces added to the Firebirds’ organization, nine were forwards, five were defenseman and two were goaltenders.
“We’re very happy with our draft this season,” said Flint Firebirds Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Personnel Joe Stefan. “We were able to acquire a lot of players that were on our radar which is going to set up this organization for success in years to come.”
“First impressions, I know that we’ve addressed some needs that were high on my priority list of what we really we wanted,” said Flint Firebirds Head Coach Ryan Oulahen. “We got size, we got grit, we got guys that are going to play the game hard.”
The Firebirds selected right-winger Ethan Keppen (pronounced kep-in) as the 10th overall pick in the first-round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection. A native of Whitby, Ont., Keppen earned 35 points (14G, 21A) in 33 games played last season with the Toronto Nationals Minor Midget AAA Hockey Club.
“He’s a terrific young man that’s excited to be a Flint Firebird,” said Flint Firebirds General Manager George Burnett. “Ethan is a big, strong, highly skilled player that does a great job along the wall, in the corners and moves the puck very well. He’s really a complete player and is exactly what this program needed.”
“It feels amazing, just getting drafted to a great organization like Flint, it means a lot,” said Keppen. “It’s a good hockey program that has moved a lot of guys onto the professional levels this year. I’m just excited to be part of the Flint Firebirds.”
He also tallied more than a point-per-game in the 2017 OHL Cup, scoring three goals and adding eight assists for 11 points, including a plus-seven rating in eight games played.
“Ethan brings a lot of size to our program and is a power-forward type player that addresses the needs we have,” said Flint Firebirds Head Scout Dave McParlan. “He’s a type of player that is going to block shots for the team and will give a full commitment every shift.”
Flint than selected Marcus Gretz (pronounced Grets) in the second-round, 23rd overall. The Macomb, Mich. native played his youth hockey locally in Detroit for the Belle Tire 16U Hockey Club. A 6-foot-2, 197-pound left-defenseman, Gretz recorded 16 points (4G, 12A) in 32 games including 24 penalty minutes.
“I jumped up with excitement when I found out Flint was the team to draft me, it’s an unbelievable feeling,” said Gretz. “It’s a great organization and I’m excited for the future.”
The Firebirds selected Luke Cavallin (pronounced (cav-uh-lin), who is highly touted as the best goaltender in the OHL Draft, in the second-round, 28th overall. Cavallin, a 6-foot-1, 171-pound netminder recorded an impressive 2.22 goals against average (GAA) including a .920 save percentage (SAV%) in 25 games played with the Kemptville 73s last season. In playoffs with the 73s, he posted a 1.41 GAA and a .952 SAV%.
“I’m very excited and happy to be drafted by the Flint Firebirds,” said Cavallin. “I’ve heard great things about the organization and am prepared to work hard all summer to hopefully earn a spot on the team in September.”
In the third-round, the Firebirds tabbed right-winger Jeff Burridge 49th overall. From London, Ont., Burridge is 6-foot-1, 195-pounds and tallied 35 points (18G, 17A) in 30 games with the London Jr Knights. He scored three times on the power-play and added one shorthanded goal.
“I was watching the draft and when I heard my name, I was like wow,” said Burridge. “Just to go to a prestigious organization like this, it just didn’t seem real. I’m really happy and cannot wait to take my next steps with the Flint Firebirds.”
Burridge racked up an impressive 15 points (5G, 10A) and one power-play goal in 11 games in the playoffs with the Knights.
Right-defenseman Zach Pilon (pronounced pee-lon) was the first-of-three chosen by Flint in the third-round. Picked 49th overall and a 2000-birth year, Pilon played for the Athens Aeros and notched 22 points (6G, 16A) in 44 games.
“I feel humbled that they took a shot at me and I look forward to making a difference for the team,” said Pilon. “I think I can bring a lot to the table, I know I have a lot of work ahead of me but I look forward to it.”
Tanner McEachern (pronounced mick-eck-er-in) was selected in the fourth-round, 73rd overall. The centerman scored 25 points (12G, 13A) in 20 games last season with the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs. McEachern is 5-foot-11, 150-pounds and hails from Stoney Creek, Ont.
“It’s an amazing feeling and I couldn’t be happier to be in such a good organization,” said McEachern. “I’m ready to get started with the team and excited to be a Flint Firebird.”
McEachern also recorded one assist in three games with the Pelham Panthers (Jr. A) in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL).
Flint then chose Zachary Uens (pronounced u-ins) in the fourth-round, 76th overall. A left-defenseman that is 6-foot, 160-pounds from Belleville, Ont., Uens showed up on the scoresheet 21 times, scoring seven goals while adding 14 assists and 52 penalty minutes in 35 games played.
“I feel ecstatic and relieved,” said Uens. “I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of hopefully playing in the OHL with the Flint Firebirds.”
Uens also played two games with the Wellington Dukes (Jr. A) in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL).
The Firebirds picked Kyle Harris (pronounced hare-iss) in the seventh-round, 128th overall. Harris is from East Aurora, N.Y., but played his youth hockey with the Toronto Marlboros last season. The centerman is 5-foot-11, 152-pounds and recorded 26 points (10G, 16A) in 32 games.
Michael Palandra (pronounced puh-land-ra) was also picked in the seventh-round. A native of Markham, Ont., Palandra had 10 points (3G, 7A) in 33 games, including an impressive plus-16 rating with the Toronto Nationals a season ago.
Aidan Pitre (pronounced pee-tree) was the second and final netminder selected by the Firebirds in the 2017 OHL Draft. Coming in at 6-foot-1, 209-pounds, Pitre recorded a 2.02 GAA and a .896 SAV% last season with the Sun County Panthers. The Belle River, Ont. native also recorded one shutout on the campaign.
Joshua Houston was tabbed in the ninth-round, 169th overall. He played his youth hockey for the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs and recorded an impressive 49 points (23G, 26A) in 33 games played. The Carlisle, Ont. native is 6-foot-1, 209 pounds.
Flint picked left-winger Jacob Winterton in the 10th-round, 189th overall. From Markham, Ont., a 5-foot-10, 145-pound forward averaged a point-per-game last season, racking up 33 points (13G, 20A) in 33 games played with the Ajax-Pickering Raiders. Winterton also notched 4 points (1G, 3A) in 4 games in the 2017 OHL Cup Showcase.
Grant Fontyn (pronounced fon-tane) hails from Mississauga, Ont. A 6-foot-1, 164-pound left-winger scored five times and added 14 assists in 31 games played with the Toronto Marlboros.
Matthw Stayshyn (pronounced stay-shin) was the third Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs player to be drafted by Flint Saturday. A 6-foot-1, 164-pound right-defenseman had 16 points and 45 penalty minutes in 31 games last season. Stayshyn also played one game for the Ancaster Avalanche (Jr. B) in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL).
Charlie Dafonseca (pronounced da-fon-sec-uh) tallied 37 points (7G, 30A) in 33 games played with the Markham Waxers. The 5-foot-8, 146-pound centerman also notched 18 points (5G, 13A) in 10 games in the post-season.
Gage Tremblay was the final selection by Flint in the 2017 OHL Draft. Tremblay played for the Belle Tire U15 Hockey Club last season and earned 17 points (7G, 10A) in 16 games played.
For all the latest information on the Flint Firebirds, including videos features, orientation camp details and community appearances throughout the summer, stay tuned to www.FlintFirebirds.com.
2017 U-17 Priority Selection (April 8th, 2017)
||Ethan Keppen (Video)
||Detroit Belle Tire 16U
||London Jr. Knights
||Smith Falls, ON
||Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs
||Quinte Red Devils
||East Aurora, NY
||Sun County Panthers
||Belle River, ON
||Hamilton Jr Bulldogs
||Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs
||Detroit Belle Tire 15U
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club