Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds Hockey Club selected 15 players in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection presented by Real Canadian Superstore held Saturday, Apr. 7. Of the 15 new faces added to the Firebirds’ organization, six were forwards, seven were defenseman and two were goaltenders.
“We’re extremely excited and couldn’t be happier with how the draft ended up for our club,” said Flint Firebirds Vice President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Barclay Branch. “We felt it was a very successful day for this franchise and it will be shown moving forward. We were very prepared, we had a plan going in and executed the plan perfectly. I cannot say enough about the work that Joe Stefan, Dave McParlan and our entire staff did. They’re a collection of great people and great hockey people that work extremely hard.”
The Firebirds selected forward Evan Vierling as the second overall pick in the first-round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection. A native of Aurora, Ont., Vierling recorded 63 points (27G, 36A) in 33 games last season with the York Simcoe Express Minor Midget AAA hockey team in the Eastern Toronto Area Hockey League (ETAHL). He also finished third in points among 375 skaters at the 2018 OHL Cup powered by Under Armour in March. He scored five goals and added five assists, totaling 10 points and recorded an impressive four game-winning goals in six games played. Additionally, he was one of six players named to the 2018 Gatorade OHL Cup All-Star Team. He won a tournament-high 63 face-offs, going 57.8% in the circle.
“Being drafted by the Flint Firebirds means everything to my family and I,” said Vierling. “I’ve heard such great things about this organization, the arena, fans and the city. So many great players have come out of the OHL and I’m happy to now be part of it, competing against the top players in the world. I’m so grateful and honored for the opportunity and could not get here without my parents, family, coaches and teammates.”
“We are thrilled to welcome Evan to the Flint Firebirds,” added Branch. “Evan is a skilled forward that possesses excellent speed, skill and plays a complete game. He’s an impactful player that is a significant addition to our program.”
For 14 straight years beginning in 1999, the player taken second in the OHL draft went on to play in the NHL. Also, since 2010, four of the last six players selected second overall in the OHL Draft became first-round draft picks in the NHL.
OHL Central Scouting Report: Evan is a smooth skating center that has very good offensive instincts. He is one of the nicest skaters in the draft, has a long, powerful stride and is very agile on his skates. He has a great skill set and can makes plays at full speed. He is a smart player that understands the situations of a game and makes very few mistakes. He plays a simple but effective game. Evan was a big part of the success his team had in the second half.
Flint then selected Owen Power in the second-round, 22nd overall. The Mississauga, Ont. native played his youth hockey for the Mississauga Reps AAA hockey team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). A 6-foot-5, 210-pound left-defenseman, Power was named the captain of the Reps and recorded 33 points (9G, 24A) in 32 games including 12 penalty minutes.
“It’s a really good feeling to be drafted into the OHL,” said Power. “I have heard really good things about the Firebirds. My cousin Grant Fontyn was invited to orientation camp last year and had nothing but great things to say about the entire organization.”
OHL Central Scouting Report: Owen is one of the elite defenders in this year’s draft. He has the complete package – size, skill, skating, hockey sense and he is hard to play against. At 6’4.5” and 210lbs he is an intimidating presence on defense. He logs big minutes for his team and plays in every situation. He has a great understanding of the game and is rarely out of position. Owen does a good job on the offensive blueline with his pass/shot decisions. He is very hard to beat off the rush or in his own end because of his mobility.
In the third round, the Firebirds tabbed defenseman Michael Bianconi 48th overall. Bianconi tallied 31 points (5G, 26A) in 57 games with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL) AAA hockey team last season. He averaged a point-per-game in the 2018 OHL Cup powered by Under Armour, scoring three times and adding four assists for seven points. Bianconi hails from Toronto, Ont. and played an integral role in helping the Canadiens secure the OHL Cup championship in March. Like Vierling, he was one of six players named to the Gateorade OHL Cup All-Star Team. He finished third among all defenseman with seven points including three goals and four assists over seven games. He led all players in the showcase with a plus/minus rating of plus-15.
Bianconi also played one game with the Toronto Patriots (Jr. A) in the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL).
“It is an honor to be selected in the OHL Draft,” said Bianconi. “I’m looking forward to making a huge impact. The OHL is a league I want to be part of to fufill my dream of playing in the NHL one day.”
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Bianconi is an intelligent, smooth skating defender with two-way attributes. Michael shows impressive poise in possession and plays a mature game. A player who possesses a fluid straight line stride and strong mobility, Bianconi utilizes his skating to elevate his game on both sides of the puck.
The Firebirds picked Christian Linton in the fourth round (62nd overall). Linton spent last season with the Guelph Gryphons AAA hockey team in the South Central Toronto Area Hockey League (SCTA). The Gryphyons who were OMHA (Ontario Minor Hockey Association) finalists. The Elora, Ont. native posted an impressive 2.80 goals against average (GAA) in 16 games. In two games at the 2018 Gatorade OHL Cup, Linton recorded a .935 save percentage (SAV%) and a 2.01 GAA, making 62 saves on 90 shots.
“It means everything to me,” said Linton. “I was really nervous headed into draft day and was super excited to see my name come up. From everything I hear, playing in Flint seems pretty awesome. To play in the OHL would mean a lot. It’s the best league at this age, it’s such high level hockey and would be amazing to be part of.”
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Christian is a very intriguing prospect, he is a big athletic kid standing 6.03. He uses that size to effectively take away the bottom of the net which makes him difficult to beat in tight. Linton has displayed above average lateral movement which keeps him in any play. Christian likes to aggressively challenge shooters coming out to the edge of his crease to cut down the angle. He showed off solid reflexes this year by covering up loose rebounds quickly and tracking the puck over screens in front of the net. Linton does a good job of fighting off shots with his blocker and smothering shots with his glove hand.
Forward Ryan Mansfield (Burlington, Ont) was selected by the Firebirds in the fifth round (82nd overall). He racked up 44 points (28G, 16A) in 31 games last season with the Burlington Eagles (SCTA) AAA hockey team. He was named MVP of the prestigious ‘Tournament of Champions’ in Peterborough, Ont. in January. In 2016, he was named MVP of the CCM Youth Elite Hockey World Invite Tournament in Chicago. Mansfield has won “Athlete of the Year” in grade school multiple times and was an honor role student at Assumption Catholic School in Burlington with an 87% average. He also played four games with the Ancaster Avalanche in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) this season.
“When I was drafted by Flint, my dad came up to me and said congratulations,” said Mansfield. “I was super happy and didn’t know what to say. After everything I worked for, I was just happy to be drafted by such a great organization. I heard that they have great facilities and great people surrounding everyone and that they are a great hockey organization in a great hockey town. The OHL is a stepping stone to a better career and a place to improve and play against the best of the best in such an elite league.”
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Ryan plays a very effective two-way game. He is a big body with above average skating that allows him to attack the neutral zone with speed using his positioning to find middle ice. He is most effective when he’s using his strong compete level and above average hockey I.Q to create turnovers in all three zones. Mansfield is one of the best in the league in transitioning those turnovers to offense. When in the offensive zone Ryan utilizes a heavy accurate shot to beat goalies or drives the net hard with the ability to finish in tight with above average deking skills. Mansfield is a smart player that reads the game very well, he can create offensive chances all by himself and does so with regularity. Along the boards Ryan is very hard to knock off the puck because he protects it so well with his strength. On the defensive side of things Ryan back checks hard providing significant back pressure every shift. Mansfield has shown great potential this year.
Flint selected Tyler Deline (pronounced Dee-Line) with their sixth round, 102nd overall pick. As a defenseman, Deline tallied 19 points (5G, 14A) in 35 games with the Peterborough Petes AAA hockey team last season. He earned two points in eight playoff games. The Peterborough native earned the Peterborough Minor Hockey ‘James Johnston Memorial Award’ which is presented annually to a minor Petes player who exemplifies James Johnston’s character and skill.
“I’m very excited to join the Firebirds,” said Deline. I feel pure excitement and overall happiness to get things going with a great world-class organization.
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Deline is an intelligent, two-way defender with good mobility. Tyler was a consistent presence for the Petes throughout the season, showing reliable three zone play and effectiveness in various situations. Displaying strong hockey sense, Deline was poised in possession and consistently made strong reads both in possession and away from the puck. Tyler shows good foot-work and mobility which allows him to not only defend with above average effectiveness, but push the pace in transition at the appropriate times. Deline’s strength is currently on the defensive side of the puck were he shows excellent awareness and utilizes his ability to anticipate to enhance his defensive game. On multiple occasions his strong neutral zone reads allowed him to step in front of opposing players and create turnovers.
Jack Harper was selected in the seventh round (122nd overall) by the Firebirds. He played for the Guelph Jr. Gryphons (SCTA) last year and posted 36 points (12G, 24A) in 35 games. Jack was an assistant captain with the Gryphons who were OMHA finalists this season. He was also named to the OMHA Bantam All-Star Team a year ago. Harper finished the season playing three junior games in the GOJHL with the Guelph Hurricanes.
“I’m really honored to be drafted by Flint,” said Harper. “I’ve been looking forward to the draft for a long time and now that it actually happened, I couldn’t be happier. I was looking through the Firebirds’ website and saw pictures of the dressing room and it looks really nice. I heard there’s a great atmosphere there too. Its definitely an honor to be drafted in the OHL.
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Harper is a smooth-skating defenseman for the Guelph Jr. Gryphons. The puck-rushing defenseman has an explosive first step to separate himself when in possession and close the gap quickly on opposing forwards. He has good two-way abilities with great gap control. Harper is mindful of the open man when the second defensemen back and hustles back hard when not in possession to pick up a man. He regularly squares off puck carriers trying to gain the zone by keeping them outside before pinning them to the boards. In front of the net, he keeps opponents in check and actively supports teammates when needed along the boards in the defensive zone. In board battles, he is relentless with a quick stick and aggressiveness that allows his team to come away with the puck more often than not.
Jacob Bedal became the first Flint local player to be selected by the Firebirds in four years of participating in the OHL Draft. Badal, a Flushing, Mich. native, was picked in the eighth round (142nd overall). The forward played his youth hockey with the Detroit Honeybaked AAA hockey team in the High Performance Hockey League (HPHL). In 59 games with Honeybaked last season, Badal posted an impressive 70 points (29G, 41A). He’s spent the last two seasons with Honeybaked after playing two seasons with the Little Caesars AAA hockey team.
“I was super excited to be picked by my hometown team,” said Badal. “I typically attended around 10 Firebirds’ games a year and playing for them has been something I’ve always wanted to do. The OHL is a great league, it’s great for player development and something I’ve always wanted to be part of.”
Williamsville, NY native Chase Clark was selected by Flint in the 9th round (162nd overall). Clark played AAA hockey last season with the Toronto Nationals in the GTHL. The 6-foot-3, 190-pound goaltender was the second netminder picked by the Firebirds in the 2018 OHL Draft. Clark secured a shutout in his stint at the 2018 OHL Combine. He was invited to the GTHL Top Prospects Game powered by Under Armour and received the Tyler Cragg Memorial MVP Award. Before playing for the Toronto Nationals, Chase played for the Buffalo Regals for four seasons.
“It feels amazing to be drafted by the Firebirds,” said Clark. “I don’t know how to put it into works, I’m just excited to get ready to try to prove myself at camp.”
The Firebirds then selected Evan Boucher (pronounced Boo-Shay) in the 10th round (182nd overall). Boucher hails from Ottawa, ON and played for the Rockford Nationals in the Hockey Eastern Ontario League (HEO) last year where he was named to the HEO All-Star team. As a left-winger, Boucher tallied 31 points (11G, 20A) in 41 games. In two playoff games with the Nationals, he scored twice. He also earned one assist in four Jr. A games with the Rockland Nationals in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL). Additionally, Evan was named MVP at the 2018 Telus Cup Regionals.
“I’m really happy to be drafted by the Flint Firebirds,” said Boucher. “They’re a great organization and I’m really excited. I know it’s a big step to be drafted into the OHL and it has been a dream of mine since I was a kid.”
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: He possesses blazing speed which he often utilizes affectively to win races to loose pucks or to create scoring opportunities off the transition. He is highly skilled and a fun player to watch when he has control of the puck in the offensive zone because he plays with a lot of confidence. Not an overly physical player but can surprise with his physicality and can catch his opponent’s off- guard. A versatile player, he was used in all situations over the course of the season.
Owen Holmes, the younger brother of current Firebird Hunter, was selected by the Firebirds in the 11th round (202nd overall). A native of Niagara on the Lake, Ont., Holmes tallied 26 points (9G, 17A) in 34 games. In the last three years, he has won one OMHA silver medals and two OMHA bronze medals.
“When I was drafted by Flint, I was like wow,” said Holmes. “It’s pretty cool I may have a chance to play with my brother. I feel really comfortable with Flint and the Firebirds having been to the Dort Federal Event Center multiple times already. Being drafted in the OHL means a lot, theres a lot of prestige players that have come out of this league and I cannot wait to get started.”
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Owen is an undersized smooth skating center that generates consistent offense with his impressive playmaking abilities. Although undersized Owen owns a strong compete level and excellent overall strength, he can out muscle much bigger opponents to win puck battles but he also has the above average ability to protect the puck. He utilizes his skilled hands to deke through traffic opening up time and space for his line. Owen demonstrated great patience and a high Hockey I.Q in our viewings, he follows up his shots aggressively, creates turnovers consistently, wins a high percentage of face-offs and also comes back hard defensively to apply back pressure and an outlet for his defensemen.
Defenseman Brandon Chabrier (pronounced Shab-Ree-A) was selected by Flint in the 12th round (222nd overall). The Bayville, NY native earned 21 points (5G, 16A) in 15 games with Portledge High School in Local Valley, NY. He also played in 20 game with the Long Island Gulls in the Atlantic Youth Hockey League (AYHL) where he was named an All-American defenseman. Additionally, Chabrier was a National Championship finalist last year with the New Jersey Colonials AAA hockey team.
“It felt great to be drafted by Flint, it’s such a great organization,” said Chabrier. “I’m just honored to be drafted by the Firebirds. As I pursued my hockey career, I started hearing more and more about how the OHL produces a lot of NHL players. I’ve heard they have a great fan base in Michigan and I’m looking forward to seeing how that is.”
HockeyProspect.com Scouting Report: Chabrier is a rangy, offensive minded defender with strong skating abilities. A converted forward, Brandon is still somewhat raw defensively, however shows intriguing potential and already possesses strong offensive skill from the back-end. He handles the puck well and shows a confidence in possession as he pushes the pace in transition, utilizing a fluid straight line stride to generate a good top speed and attack the offensive zone. Chabrier is aggressive once gaining the zone and will look to take the puck to the net or look to find a trailing/attacking teammate with a pass. Offensively Brandon is active along the blue line, using his feet to open shooting and passing lanes, appropriately sneaking down from his point position to activate as fourth forward.
Chris Colavecchia (pronounced Kole-Luh-Veck-E-Uh) was picked by the Firebirds 242nd overall in the 13th round. As a defenseman, the Toronto native tallied 20 points (8G, 12A) in 62 games with the Don Mills Flyers in the GTHL. He was named MVP of the De La Salle College Varsity Hockey team, who play in the Conference of Independent Schools Athletics Association (CISAA). For the past five years, he was named to the De La Salle College Honor Roll (2012-present) and achieved ‘highest academic standing’ in 2015.
“It was amazing news, I was excited when I heard I was picked by Flint and am looking forward to getting started by the Firebirds,” said Colavecchia. “I know it’s a great organization and that I will be treated right there.”
Buffalo, NY native Austin Robinson was the Firebirds’ 14th round pick (262nd overall). The left-winger earned 13 points (3G, 10A) in 27 games with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in the Tier One Elite Hockey League (T1EHL) last season.
“I was truly honored to be selected in the OHL Draft and especially by the Firebirds,” said Robinson. “I’ve heard a lot about them, it’s a great organization. It seems like they have a really good fan base. I know the OHL is a great league and that the players are treated very professional. It will be a fun experience.”
With the Firebirds’ final pick in the 2018 OHL Draft, they selected Ronan McQueenie (pronounced Roh-Nin, Mick-Queen-Ee) 282nd overall in the 15th round. The defenseman from North York, ON, played for the Vaughan Kings in the GTHL where he notched 16 points (2G, 14A) in 50 games played. He was an OHL Cup finalist this season in March, won the 2017 “Battle of the Border” championship in Windsor, was an OMHA finalist in 2016 and has been named an honor student twice in the past three years.
“It felt unreal, just amazing honor to be drafted by the Firebirds,” said McQueenie. “It is such an accomplishment to be drafted to Flint and a huge confidence booster as well. To be drafted in the OHL has always been a dream of mine. I’ve always looked up to the guys in this league. I’m really excited to get to camp and see what everything is about.”
2018 U-16 Priority Selection (April 7th, 2018)
||York Simcoe Express (OMHA)
||Mississauga Reps (GTHL)
||Toronto Jr. Canadiens (GTHL)
||Guelph Gryphons (SCTA)
||Burlington Eagles (SCTA)
||Peterborough Petes (ETAHL)
||Guelph Gryphons (SCTA)
||Detroit Honeybaked (HPHL)
||Toronto Nationals (GTHL)
||Rockland Nationals (OEMHL)
||Niagara North Stars (SCTA)
||Niagara on the Lake, ON
||Long Island Gulls (AYHL)
||Don Mills (GTHL)
||Buffalo Jr. Sabres (T1EHL)
||North York, ON
Fans can meet the newest Firebirds at the annual orientation camp April 20-22 at Iceland Arenas on Elms Rd. in Clayton Township. Firebirds’ newly drafted prospects from the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, prospects from previous OHL Priority Selections, as well as free agent invites and current Firebirds will be in attendance. Join us Saturday April 21 for the ‘Firebirds Tailgate Party’ from 2 p.m. – 6 p.m. featuring complimentary hot dogs and drinks, a kid’s fun zone and a special player meet and greet. Fans are invited to attend the Firebirds Blue vs. White scrimmage at 3:30 p.m. at Flint Iceland Arenas. This event is free, open to the public and will happen rain or shine.
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.
Early bird ticket packages for the Flint Firebirds 2018-19 OHL season are on sale now. $50 reserves your seat for next season! Special early bird price deadline is Monday, April 30th. Purchase at the Dort Federal Event Center Box Office or the Firebirds front office, Monday thru Friday from 9AM to 5PM. For additional pricing and ticket information, contact Dominic Gutierrez at (810) 701-8536 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information:
Director of Broadcasting & Communications
Flint Firebirds Hockey Club