Brennan Othmann came to Flint with a goal. Two goals, in fact.
The 17-year-old forward, drafted second overall by the Firebirds at the 2019 OHL Priority Selection, had an impressive first season, stamping his place in Firebirds history with a rookie record 17 goals and 33 points.
Before stepping foot on OHL ice, he knew those records were his to set.
“When I got drafted to Flint, the media guy, Dom, was telling me about all the different records and stats and he told me that Ty’s record is 13 goals as a rookie and Vladdy’s point record was at 29. I think he pushed me to beat those goals, and I think that was one of my goals in the summertime, to beat both of their records,” said Othmann. “Just to be able to play in the OHL is special but to be able to break those guys’ records, it means a lot.”
It was an all-around historic season for the Firebirds with club marks set in points (74), wins (40) and goals (274). Riley McCourt became the club’s high-scoring defenceman when he surpassed 91 points with the team. Overager Jake Durham finished out the season with a record 255 appearances in a Firebirds jersey. Tyler Tucker put up seven points in a single game and netminder Anthony Popovich set a new mark with 24 wins.
Overall, an exciting foray into the OHL for Othmann.
“We had a really highly skilled offensive team who could put up five or six goals a game if we wanted to. Everyone seemed to click on the team, we had a good group of vets, and being a part of the individual records was pretty cool. It was a pretty special year for all the guys on that team and the staff and the fans.”
There’s a lot Othmann learned from those vets, captain Ty Dellandrea in particular. Two lessons in particular stand out.
“He’s a big leader, he’s been captain for Flint for quite awhile, he was assistant captain on the World Juniors and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up captain or assistant captain on an NHL team. I was able to learn a lot about having a leader’s perspective,” he said of the World Junior gold medalist and Dallas Stars prospect. “He also taught me not to be so hard on yourself because your first year is always the hardest in the OHL. I think those are the two biggest things I’ve learned from him this year: being a better, stronger leader and not being so hard on yourself through the years.”
Leadership isn’t necessarily anything new to Othmann, having led the Don Mills Flyers to GTHL and OHL Cup championships the year prior with a 146 point finish (66-80–146) over his 72-game Minor Midget season. He credits that Flyers squad – one that featured the likes of fellow OHL rookie talent in Shane Wright, Brandt Clarke and Francesco Arcuri, among others – with teaching him some of the skills that would eventually make his transition to junior hockey that much easier.
“I’m just really thankful I played on that Don Mills team. I think it really helped me going into my first season in the OHL,” he said.
Othmann was the overtime hero in the OHL Cup Championship final; an unforgettable feat, no doubt. But it’s the overall experience that he says helped prepare him for what to expect at the next level.
“When you’re playing minor hockey and you have 2000 people come and watch your games. I think that was the biggest thing we were looking forward to going into the OHL,” he continued. “Our Don Mills team had such a great connection and every player on that team is a brother to me. I love each and every one of them and I think learning from those guys, being able to walk in the room and be comfortable in any different environment I’m in is something that really prepared me going into Flint.”
With a year under his belt, he’s been able to reflect on the biggest challenges that have come with playing on the OHL stage.
“I think the biggest adjustment for me was accepting your role. Hockey Canada has always taught us to accept your role. We had such a high skilled team and you go from playing high minutes in minor hockey to playing 3-4 shifts a period, no power play, no penalty kill, none of that stuff,” he said. “So just accepting that and being able to watch the older guys develop, and watch as they train and ask them questions on how to get better and how to handle it all was the biggest adjustment for me last season.”
Now, heading into his sophomore season, Othmann has a couple more goals in mind. Being a leader in Flint is one of them, with or without an A on his sweater. Helping his team get back in the playoffs and past the first round is another.
Beyond that, the 2021 NHL Draft eligible skater is hoping he’ll be able to turn some heads at the NHL level.
“It’ always exciting thinking about it because you get to see the 2020 Draft coming up, and then as soon as that’s done, they start talking about the 2021 Draft and you can’t believe it’s already here,” he finished. “Obviously I want to get drafted to the NHL and have a good year going into my draft year.”