The Flint Firebirds’ 2018-19 season was over pretty much immediately after it began. And with the OHL’s trade deadline passing on January 10, any chance of appearing in the playoffs this year with a different team disappeared.
And yet, without anything really left to play for this season, Firebirds captain and Dallas Stars first rounder Ty Dellandrea continues to perform at a high level and lead by example for his hockey club.
If anything, in fact, his play has only gotten better as of late.
The 200-foot center has scored 13 points over his past four games, including a stellar five-point performance versus the Sarnia String on Saturday.
Dallas Stars’ prospect Ty Dellandrea led the Flint Firebirds to a win over the Sarnia Sting on Saturday night, tallying five points as the Firebirds won 6-2. Here are all five of his points: pic.twitter.com/NxE81BDaRG— let’s go rangres (@DraftLook) January 13, 2019
Unsurprisingly, Dellandrea was named the OHL’s first star for that evening’s heroics.
He has found chemistry all season with linemate Jake Durham (who also happens to be from Dellandrea’s hometown of Port Perry in Ontario), but that chemistry has kicked into overdrive lately. With Dellandrea assuming the role of playmaker (he has 31 assists this season, in contrast to his 15 goals), Durham has taken the role of shooter, potting his 30th tally of the season on Saturday, tripling his previous season high with plenty of hockey still to go.
And it might not seem like much, but lowly Flint is actually 5-4-1 over their past 10 games. That’s nothing short of miraculous considering they’re still 8-33-3 on the season.
It’s easy to be concerned for Dellandrea considering just how awful the Firebirds are this season, but seeing how jubilant he still gets celebrating goals with his teammates, it certainly doesn’t seem like he’s too upset by the whole debacle.
Dellandrea is staring down an insurmountable situation and facing it head on — and is seemingly making himself a better hockey player in the process.
North American Juniors
The Guelph Storm’s Liam Hawel picked up four points over his past four games, including goals in three straight, bringing the six-foot-five forward to 45 points in 40 games on the season. The Storm made some earthshaking trades recently in an attempt to make a playoff push in the spring, and the early returns are promising: they scored a whopping 24 goals over their past four games. Don’t be surprised if Hawel and the Storm challenge for the OHL title this year.
The Stars’ two prospects on the Red Deer Rebels are rolling statistically at the moment. Forward Brett Davis has four goals and 10 points on his current five-game point streak, while blueliner Dawson Barteaux is riding a three-game point streak of his own, with four points in that span.
Over in Kamloops, power forward Jermaine Loewen picked up three goals over his past two games with the Blazers after being held off the score sheet in five straight.
Riley Tufte snapped a recent scoring drought with the University of Minnesota-Duluth by potting a goal in one of two weekend games.
Riley Tufte's goal at 3:13 of the first period gives the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead over the Huskies. pic.twitter.com/JWd7lFaftF— UMD Athletics (@UMDBulldogs) January 13, 2019
Goaltender Jake Oettinger remains red-hot for Boston University, rattling off two more wins. He stopped 25 of 27 shots on Friday night before denying 33 of 36 on Saturday.
Teammates Jakob Stenqvist and Jacob Peterson teamed up in a game last week with Bjorkloven to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat. Stenqivst scored the game’s tying goal with just 2:32 left in the third period before Peterson scored the winning goal about halfway through overtime on a nice individual effort. Video highlights of the two goals can be found at this link starting at the 2:00 mark.
It was another successful week for the Texas Stars, recording three straight wins. The team is 7-1-1-1 in their past 10 games and keeps climbing in the standings. They currently sit in a tie for third in the AHL’s Central Division. More impressive, however, is that their winning percentage of .635 is tops in the division.
Also good news: the squad is primarily being driven by its young prospects.
Rookie forward Joel L’Esperance continues to play like a man possessed, scoring three goals and adding two assists in his past three games. Those points put him in a tie for Texas’ scoring lead with Erik Condra. His 22 goals on the year are second in the entire AHL, while his 35 points put him in a tie for 16th in the league.
Joel L'Esperance's 20th of the season, on the power play: pic.twitter.com/2BcxgZJ6Io— 100 Degree Hockey (@100degreehockey) January 12, 2019
Denis Gurianov keeps impressing after being sent down from Dallas, scoring two goals last week. He also earned some big praise from his head coach:
Full Laxdal quote on Gurianov: "Every goal we get out of Gurianov is great until he goes back [to Dallas]. That's a fast team, and he blew by guys shift after shift. If he can play that way every game with confidence and consistency, he's going to be a long-time Dallas Star."— 100 Degree Hockey (@100degreehockey) January 12, 2019
Rounding things out for the Stars over the past three games: Adam Mascherin had one goal and two assists, Ben Gleason had a goal and an assist, and Dillon Heatherington and Nick Caamano each had two helpers. Landon Bow earned two of the team’s three wins, stopping 28 of 30 and 20 of 23 shots, respectively, while Philippe Desrosiers claimed the other victory by stopping 25 of 27.