Flint, Mich. – The Flint Firebirds Hockey club added two European players to the organization today through the 24th annual CHL Import Draft. General Manager Terry Christensen and the Firebirds hockey operations staff selected defenseman Vili Saarijarvi in the 1st round, 9th overall followed by forward Matyas Kantner in the 2nd round, 69th overall.
Saarijarvi, a native of Rovaniemi, Finland, is a 3rd round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings (NHL) and played for the Green Bay Gamblers in the United States Hockey League (USHL) last season.
"We're very, very excited to have been able to draft him in our import draft today," said Christensen. "I had an opportunity to go to the U18 world championship and watch Vili play and he had a great tournament.”
Saarijarvi was also chosen as the Most Valuable Defenseman in the prestigious 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championships in April, where Team Finland captured the Silver Medal in the championship contest played against Team USA.
"I talked to Vili afterward and we expressed to him how excited we were to have been able to draft him,” added Christensen. “He was very excited that we drafted him and looks forward to having an opportunity to play in the Ontario Hockey League with the Flint Firebirds.”
Kantner, a native of Plzen, Czech Republic played for HC Plzen U18 last season and recorded 46 points in 42 games. Kantner was also a member of the U17 Czech Republic National Team Development Program scoring two goals while adding an assist for three points in three games played.
“We were looking for a player that could add offense to our lineup before the draft and we ended up being really fortunate to have the opportunity to select Kantner,” said Christensen. “Last year, he scored over a point a game for his team and we think that will translate into offensive output here in Flint.”
Firebirds season tickets for the 2015-16 inaugural season are currently on sale and can be purchased at the Perani Arena & Event Center Box Office, Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET). More information on season tickets can be found at FlintFirebirds.com or by calling Mary Nagy at the Perani Box Office at (810) 744-0580. Individual game tickets will go on sale Friday, Aug. 7, at 10 a.m. (ET). Opening night is Saturday, Sep. 26, at 7:30 p.m. (ET) versus the Saginaw Spirit.
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