Firebirds Add Two Forwards and a Goaltender in U18 Draft
Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds added three more players to their prospect pool in Wednesday night’s 2023 OHL U18 Draft.
The Firebirds kicked things off with the 13th overall pick and selected left-winger Ethan Smith from the U18 Renfrew Wolves of the Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO). The 5-foot-11 168-pound forward out of Ottawa, Ont. produced 25 G and 19 A in 44 GP this season with the Wolves and added 4 G and 5 A in nine playoff games.
“We saw solid improvement in him from the previous season,” Firebirds scout Sean Howard said. “He got faster and stronger as well as displayed a solid 200-foot game.”
With the 33rd overall pick, the Firebirds selected goaltender Evan Malherbe also from the U18 Renfrew Wolves. He went 16-2-0 in 19 GP for the Wolves this year and posted a 2.10 GAA and .913%. The 6-foot-1, 179-pound netminder out of Cochrane, Ont. saw his GAA rank 3rd among all goaltenders in the U18 HEO this season.
“Evan had a solid season,” Howard added. “He displayed real good quickness not only with his hands but his lateral movements. He also doesn’t give up on pucks and has the ability to make a big save at the right time.”
Because the Firebirds selected a goaltender with one of their first two picks, they were awarded a third-round pick. With the 48th overall pick, they selected right-wing Dane Thompson out of the U18 Windsor Jr. Spitfires. The La Salle, Ont. native scored 6 G and 6 A in 29 GP this year.
Dane is a hard worker right winger,” Flint Firebirds scout Joe McCann said. “He plays whatever role he is given and goes to the dirty areas. He never stops competing and is a very hard player to play against.”
The concept for the OHL Under-18 Priority Selection was developed in 2017 with full support from Hockey Canada’s three Ontario Branches including the Ontario Hockey Federation (OHF), Hockey Eastern Ontario (HEO), and Hockey Northwestern Ontario (HNO), to assist in the growth of U18 AAA hockey and provide further opportunities for players at different stages of their hockey development.
Notable OHL U18 Draft picks include Firebirds defenseman Matthew Jenken (17th overall, 2022), Arizona Coyotes prospect Anson Thornton (3rd overall, 2020), Dallas Stars prospect Gavin White (47th overall, 2019) and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Daniel D’Amato (2018, 4th overall).
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Flint Firebirds Hockey Club