GUELPH, Ont. — Ty Dellandrea has always tried to represent the Flint Firebirds to the best of his abilities after the Ontario Hockey League team drafted him fifth overall two years ago.
Dellandrea did his part by scoring twice in record time as Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 7-4 at the CHL Top Prospects Game on Thursday.
“I think Flint is going in a great direction,” said Dellandrea who has a team-leading 17 goals in 44 games for the Firebirds this season. “Every opportunity I get to represent the Flint Firebirds in a way like this or in any tournament, I try to represent them the best way I can. I think this is a great step in the right direction.”
The 23rd annual game, being held this year at the Sleeman Centre featured 40 of the top draft-eligible skaters ranked for June’s NHL Draft in Dallas. Team Cherry coach Don Cherry earlier in the day had told members of the media that he didn’t like Europeans being allowed to play in the CHL.
Aidan Dudas and Filip Zadina also added two goals each while Egor Sokolov had the other for Team Cherry. Olivier Rodrigue and Jacob Ingham combined to make 22 saves in the win.
Serron Noel, Kevin Bahl, Cole Fonstad and Dmitry Zavgorodniy responded for Team Orr. Alex Gravel made 16 saves before being replaced by Kevin Mandolese, who stopped 18 shots.
Team Cherry defenceman Evan Bouchard matched a Top Prospects game record for points with four assists and was named player of the game for his squad, while Bahl was named player of the game for Team Orr.
“I think just communication,” said Bouchard of his offensive output. “Once we came together, everyone was really coming together as a team. We all wanted to win so that really helped us.”
Dellandrea set a Top Prospects game record, scoring twice in a 20-second span to give Team Cherry a 4-0 lead. That beat the previous record for fastest two goals by one player set by J.P. Dumont in 1996 (3:22).
The Firebirds forward beat Gravel with a shot from the slot on a feed from Vladislav Kotkov at 16:22 of the opening period. Then at 16:42, Dellandrea redirected Nico Gross’ point shot past Gravel giving Team Cherry a four-goal cushion.
“He had a good night where a lot of things went well for him there,” said director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr. “He was playing with a lot of jump, a lot of energy, you could tell that he was up for the game. They’ve had some tough nights in Flint this year and it’s been a tough haul for that team. They dug themselves into a hole and they’re coming out of it now.
“I hope this is going to be a good boost for him to go back and have a strong second half.”
Ranked 76th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, Dellandrea is looking to become just the fourth player selected out of the Firebirds organization after Will Bitten (Montreal), Nicholas Caamano (Dallas) and Fedor Gordeev (Toronto).
“I just tried to take every shift that I got and make the most out of it,” said Dellandrea. “You only get so many, I just tried to prove myself and every shift have fun, but I wanted to make the most out of it and maybe turn some heads.”