FLINT – The Ontario Hockey League’s Flint Firebirds seemed like they were in a world of trouble heading into this past Saturday’s OHL Priority Selection. Many of the top American and Canadian players had stated that they would not report if selected by Flint, but after the league suspended meddling owner Rolf Nilsen for five years last Thursday, it appears the attitude regarding the Firebirds has changed a bit.
That at least seems to be the case with Flint’s first-round pick, fifth overall, Ty Dellandrea. Dellandrea was seen posing in pictures, in a Firebirds’ jersey and draft hat, with an enthusiastic smile spread across his face.
“It is truly an honor to be selected fifth overall by the Flint Firebirds,” said Dellandrea. “I have full confidence in the Flint organization and the changes they are making that will lead to much success. To all the Flint fans and supporters, I am really looking forward to what is to come.”
Dellandrea grew up in Port Perry, Ontario and scored 35 goals in just 35 games this past season as a member of the Central Ontario Wolves Midget Minor AAA hockey team. He was then called up to the Ontario Junior Hockey League by the Whitby Fury, where he registered six points in only three playoff games.
“We’re really excited to bring a player like this. We really believe that Ty will fit right in to our hockey club instantly,” said Firebirds’ general manager Terry Christensen. “He’ll be a very talented center iceman for us and bring offense to the table from the start. The best thing about him is that he has great character, is a real good citizen and comes from a good family. Ty is someone we’re very excited to have as part of the Firebirds’ hockey family.”
In the second round, 22nd overall, Flint also selected Hunter Holmes from St. David’s, Ontario, and with the very next pick, Dennis Busby of Barrie, Ontario. At 41st overall, the Firebirds picked up Jack Wismer of Stoney Creek, Ontario before claiming Ryan Littlejohn at 48th overall in the third round out of New Market, Ontario.
Littlejohn was one of the players noted for saying he would not report to Flint prior to Nilsen’s suspension, but may not have much of a choice after falling to the third round. Flint’s next pick wasn’t until the sixth round when it added Braydon Leeking out of Kirkfield, Ontario and then in the seventh round selected Joel Farabee from Cicero, New York.
The eighth round brought the selection of Alex Jerome of Stoney Creek, Ontario, followed by Kitchener, Ontario’s Eric Uba in the ninth round. Flint took Curtis Hall in the 10th round from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and in the 13th round snagged Owen Smith of Minden, Ontario.
Jack Babbage was the next pick in the 14th round from Tully, New York, and in the 15th round the Firebirds selected Ty Glover of London, Onatrio and Evan Morrison of Stirling, Ontario.
“The one thing about the City of Flint is that they have done a very good job for us all year long,” added Christensen. “Taking into consideration that our last game had a near capacity crowd of 4,200 people in the building, the fans were cheering, doing the wave; it was an incredible atmosphere. We now have people renewing their season tickets. We’ve got people calling to renew their advertising and now we have athletes that were drafted and want to play in Flint. This is a great day for everybody in our community.”