Some New Flames in Flint Firebirds Attack
The Flint Firebirds are having a stellar season seeing them jump from the bottom of the 2018/19 OHL standings to a threat to win the West Division, league championship and competing for a Memorial Cup in Kelowna, B.C. this spring. One player many fans were excited to see in Flint this past fall was the second-overall pick at the 2019 OHL Priority Selection Brennan Othmann.
Selected last spring out of the then recently-crowned Don Mills Flyers OHL Cup Championship team, Othmann has come well-advertised. With some great seasons from returning players along with some astute additions by GM Barclay Branch, the bolstered team has vastly improved and won 15-straight games from Jan 19 to Feb 21.
CHL Import selection Evgeniy Oksentyuk has been a huge boost for the Firebird attack with 32 goals and 74 points to lead the team. Braeden Kressler and Tyler Deline have also contributed in their first-year with the club playing in 43 and 40 games respectively.
The highly-touted midget-prospect scored in overtime for the Flyers OHL Cup championship-winning goal versus the Toronto Red Wings capping off an impressive 2019 post-season seeing him score 14 points in seven games during the winning run.
— NHL Prospects Watcher (@Prospects_Watch) March 19, 2019
Teammates Shane Wright and Brandt Clarke assisted on that overtime winner, fitting as the duo would join Othmann on the podium as the first three picks at last springs OHL Selection. Joining them in the first round from Don Mills was Liam Arnsby of North Bay Battalion, who also selected Alex & Paul Christopoulos later. Francesco Arcuri was selected in the second round teaming up with Wright in Kingston with seven other Don Mills players selected throughout the rounds for an impressive 14 in total.
The Pickering ON native was part of a high-powered offence in Don Mills during the 2018/19 regular season amassing 66 goals and 80 assists for 144 points in just 72 games. The Flyers were undefeated in 33 regular-season games and then went 7-0 at the OHL Cup for a historic season.
OHL Rookie Season:
With 33 points in 53 games, Othmann has acclimated himself well to the OHL becoming a pivotal asset for the Firebirds. Along with his 17 goals, he’s set new franchise-records along the way. “Othmann is becoming a dynamic player in this league,” says Dominic Hennig, Director of Broadcasting and Communications with the Firebirds. “He’s already set Flint’s rookie goals record in 11 fewer games and the club’s rookie points record in seven less games. There is a continued bright future ahead for him and the Flint Firebirds.”
He appeared in his first game as a Firebird during the pre-season Aug 31, 2019, in Guelph netting a pair of goals before finishing the exhibition series with 6 points in four games. Playing in his first regular-season game on versus the Greyhounds on Sep 20 in the Soo, he registered his first OHL goal a night later in Saginaw.
2nd overall pick in the #OHLDraft, Brennan Othmann, got his 1st OHL goal earlier tonight in his 2nd game vs Saginaw. The rookie has been a dangerous goal scoring threat from the first preseason game this year.
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) September 22, 2019
The left-shooting winger went on a four-game point streak from Sep 29 to Oct 12 scoring six points including the first multi-point game of his career on Oct 4 in Guelph. He had a second two-point game rounding out the stretch on Oct 12 in Flint vs Peterborough.
He scored his first multi-goal game on Feb 28 at home versus Hamilton with two second-period tallies giving the Firebirds a lead helping them to a 6-4 win after trailing 2-0 early. His shot has proven to be of exceptional status showing off an ability to quickly fire a puck off from multiple angles.
The dynamic forward has an ability to beat you with his quick-hands, saucer a pass to a teammate in traffic, or beat you to the net with his hockey-IQ. Othmann’s scouting reports coming into the OHL remain accurate. With continued strength and enhancement to an already accurate shot, his goal totals will only increase projecting to be a high pick at the 2021 NHL entry draft.
We were fortunate to catch up with the budding star before his Firebirds were set to take on the Kingston Frontenacs and ex-Flyer teammates Arcuri and Wright on Feb 29 in Flint for their second matchup against each other. We had to ask about the incredible 15-straight games without a loss. “It was an unbelievable run we’ve had,” said Othmann recalling the streak. “We came up short against Kitchener last weekend, but we’ve grinded here, we have worked hard, everyone’s coming together and we are seeing results and it’s been a really good run winning 17 of our last 18 we played (heading into Saturday’s game), so it’s been really good for us”
Playing with fellow first-year Oksentyuk he added: “He is a helluva player. He’s quick, he’s fast and he’s really agile out there and keeps defenders on his toes and we’re lucky to have him on the team.” His thoughts facing former mates Wright and Arcuri: “We played them in Kingston and we won that one there. Even though they are in the lower part of the standings, we seem them as a threat, they have some high-offence guys over there. Playing those two guys is going to be good. On the same team with them last year was something really special and those two will be my friends for life and I’ll be theirs, so it’s always special playing against them.”
Commenting on Wright: “He’s a high-end talented player. Playing with him last year and watching him play this year is really special and hopefully, I can play with him one day again. He’s a great player and that is why he is tied with the record (Kingston rookie-franchise goals).” When asked about Arcuri being the player in the league at 100 percent in shootouts Othamnn isn’t surprised saying “He’s really deceptive and watching him practice last year I can see the move he does. Four-for-four is pretty good so it’s working for him.
Like most first-year players, the five-foot-eleven, 165-pound skater continues to get better every game. He is learning the faster-paced OHL style and adapting to larger players he’s facing on a game-to-game basis. With size and mobility, he’s been able to not only compete on the scoresheet but gets involved in puck battles regularly and is not afraid of physical areas on the ice while on the forecheck.
Othmann: “It’s a hard adjustment to make. You are used to being a goal scorer and you come in here the goalies are better and defenceman are bigger, stronger, and quicker. Same with forwards you are playing against. There are some high-end forwards in this league. Once you get to used to it and playing a few games, start jumping in getting your feet wet, you get more comfortable and it’s been fun.”
Kingston head coach Kurtis Foster is impressed with the talent Othmann provides. “He is capable of beating you in many ways,” he said after the teams had played in Kingston earlier in the year, “and already someone you have to watch for in prep.”
Othmann is certainly a player to watch over the next couple of seasons and alone is worth the price of admission. Displaying a wide array of hockey abilities combined with a hockey mind makes him a potential top-NHL player in the future. Playing on a powerhouse team should expose Othmann to the hockey world even more as he draws closer to a first post-season run as the Firebirds look to win the West Division.