Firebirds Add Two New Prospects in Under-18 Priority Selection
Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds added two new prospects to the organization in the second annual Under-18 OHL Priority Selection, Wednesday, Apr. 11. The Firebirds selected two forwards, Markus Paterson and Russell Oldham.
"We are very pleased with our two selections in the U-18 Priority Selection Wednesday," said Flint Firebirds Vice President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Barclay Branch. "We'd like to welcome both Markus and Russell to the Firebirds and look forward to seeing both of them compete for spots on our hockey club moving forward."
The Firebirds selected Paterson in the first round (2nd overall). Paterson has spent the last three years with the Toronto Nationals AAA hockey team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). This season, the Toronto, Ont. native racked up 41 points (19G, 22A) in 50 games and played an integral role in helping the Nationals capture the GTHL Midget Major playoff championship. Paterson, a 6-foot-2, 182-pound left-winger was voted as the most improved player with the Nationals this year and secured back-to-back Kraft Cup championships over the past two seasons. Since 2008, the Kraft Cup has been awarded to teams who hold the best regular season record in their GTHL division. Paterson will also compete for the Telus Cup this Apr. 23-29 in Sudbury, Ont. The Telus Cup is Canada's national midget ice hockey club championship and the Nationals are one of six teams remaining.
“I’m really excited to be selected by the Firebirds, this is a new opportunity for me,” said Paterson. “Being drafted in the OHL is my biggest accomplishment so far. It’s where I want to get to and where I want to play next year.”
Flint than added Oldham in the second round (22nd overall). The St. Thomas, Ont. native tallied 53 points (24G, 29A) in 35 games last season with the Huron-Perth Lakers Midget Major AAA hockey team. A 6-foot-1, 164-pound left-winger, Oldham also scored three goals and added one assist, totaling four points in three regular season Jr. B games with the St. Thomas Stars in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL). Additionally, Oldham has been invited to the ALLIANCE Hockey All-Star Game for the last two consecutive seasons.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be picked 22nd overall by the Firebirds,” said Oldham. “It really is a dream come true. I’ve grown up watching the OHL since I was five years old and it’s always been a dream to play in the league. Now having the opportunity to compete for a spot with the Firebirds is an incredible feeling.”
The Under-18 Priority Selection concept was developed a year ago 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 Midget hockey and provide further opportunities for players at different stages of their hockey development.
“The Under-18 Priority Selection is to the benefit of players who may take some extra time in their overall hockey development,” said Joe Birch, OHL Senior Director of Hockey Development and Special Events. “The long term hope remains that this initiative will bring accomplished players to the OHL, but also grow the exposure of Midget AAA hockey within the province and help the development of this important level for players, goaltenders, and coaches.”
Fans can meet the newest Firebirds at the orientation camp April 20-22 at Iceland Arenas on Elms Rd. in Clayton Township. The Firebirds are inviting fans to the annual tailgate party and ‘Blue vs. White Game’ Saturday, April 21st from 2-6 p.m. Immediately following the game, fans can meet and greet current Firebirds Luke Cavallin, Marcus Gretz and Ethan Keppen as well as 2018 first-round draft pick Evan Vierling, Vice President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Barclay Branch, the coaching staff and all of the Firebirds’ OHL draft and free agent prospects. There will be music, complimentary hot dogs, beverages and a kids fun zone sponsored by Funtastic Inflatables. The event is open to the public and will happen rain or shine.