Pontiac Firebirds MLD Team Thread Topic

- firebirdshockey.ca -
November 3/08 - Season 13 Preview
As Season 13 dawns in the MLD, what can we expect from this iteration of the Pontiac Firebirds? "Hopefully more of the same" says Coach damag. "This is the deepest roster I've had since I took over this franchise. We're coming off a pretty good season. Let's hope that means something going forward." Indeed, Firebirds fans can expect to see many of the same familiar faces on the forward lines during this campaign.
Having lost two of the teams best defencemen to retirement, one might expect damag to be nervous about turnover in the back six... but this season finds him excited about his corps. "We've been able to replenish through the draft much better than I'd hoped. I think we have an excellent blend of youth and experience." Indeed, even though the team drafted in its lowest slot ever during damag's tenure, the returns were very encouraging.
Round One saw an early run on right wingers, and the Firebirds caught the tail end of it tabbing Rick O'Shea at number 20. O'Shea will give the Firebirds four first-round picks playing right wing this season. "Not an elite-skills guy, but Rick has an all-round game which will let him complement any of our lines" says damag. In the second round came D Jesse Liikkanen. "A surprise. He'd have been a first rounder in other seasons" says damag. "Jesse may not start right away, but he'll definitely contribute." Rounds Three and four brought in checking C Randy Ladd, and no-frills D Adam Skonback.
"For the first time since I've been here, there's no one on the roster I'm carrying just to be an extra body. The depth chart is full." Late-round picks RW Rory Martineero and D Emory Mangolin were not able to stick, and veteran cuts include D Patsy Dus and former New West Bruin Curtis Pohjoisaho. "Pohjo never really nailed down a spot", says damag. "We gave him chances, but the guy just couldn't stay healthy."
And the MLD's new goaltender eligibility rules will bring a change to the Firebirds net. Leo Xavier has been number one the past few seasons, but he'll have some hard-earned free time this season. Says damag, "Bo Darville has been stunning at times, but I've never let him have the number one job to himself. It's time to see what the Bandit's got."
Opening night, come honour our new franchise player and team captain on Jim Rockford Bobblehead Night! For tickets, call 1-888-SCREECH.
Firebirds draftees:
(1) - RW Rick O'Shea
(2) - D Jesse Liikkanen
(3) - C Randy Ladd
(4) - D Adam Skonback
(5) - RW Rory Martineero
(6) - D Emory Mangolin
11/3/2008 2:09 PM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
November 29/08 - Surges, Slides and Surprises - the Midseason Report
With the Pontiac Firebirds in a fight to stay above .500 at the midway point of MLD Season 13, the remainder of this campaign appears totally unpredictable. And as we joined Coach damag in his office at La Centre Guy Lafleur, we received word of a late-breaking trade between the Firebirds and the Kingston Crooks. Former second-round draft choice Maxime Gagnon goes over to the Crooks in exchange for troubled winger Rob Nokimaki. Coach damag cracked open a bottle of Crown Royal last night to analyze the deal, and the season, with us.
firebirdshockey.ca: Tell us about Gagnon-for-Nokimaki.
damag: We've had some success in the draft picking up young centers the past few seasons. Howie (Hamayomama) and Randy (Ladd) have really stepped up for us. And we've got a few retirement issues coming up with our veteran wingers. So this was a depth chart move for next season, not this one.
firebirdshockey.ca: But Max has been a fan favourite here... and a former Firebirds top rookie.
damag: Yeah, without a doubt he's the best player I've traded away since I've been here. But with Max... we felt like we knew what he was going to give us. Honestly, for the way I want this team to play, he never felt like a great fit for our system. And with, frankly, his complete ineptitude in the faceoff circle, I had him on right wing most of the time anyway. Yes, Max has talent, but it's up to him to make the most of it with the Crooks.
firebirdshockey.ca: You know most people would say Nokimaki is an odd fit for the Firebirds. You've never had a player like him here.
damag: Robbie is... misunderstood. We had an eye on him way back when he came out, could have had him but he went a round earlier than we thought. He can skate, he's responsible in his own end...
firebirdshockey.ca: But most in MLD circles consider him a loose cannon, coach. Even the Crooks. There have been rumours you've been after Nokimaki for awhile. Is this personal? Does this have anything to do with your relationship with his family?
damag: (Silence) You guys know... I played with the late Jeff Nokimaki back in the Niagara league. Kelli Nokimaki has always been a great... friend of mine... since Jeff's chopper went down on that fishing trip. Robbie was never the same since. The night he was traded to the Crooks, Kelli called me on the phone, and she was crying. "Do you know what those bastards will do to him? Please, get him out of there." I tried, man. For three seasons, we kept it quiet, under the table. The kid's been through a lot, but there's still a hockey player in there.
firebirdshockey.ca: You said this is a trade for next season. Nokimaki hasn't played at all this season, and there are plenty of rumours why.
damag: I'll be straight with you. The Crooks "medical" staff have had this kid overprescribed on painkillers for the past few seasons. They drugged him up, messed with his head, tried to turn him into an animal. So we're going to clean him up. He goes straight into rehab tomorrow. My vets, Jimmy Rockford and Mel Smiley, are going to take him under their wings. Next time he hits the ice, the MLD will see a whole different Rob Nokimaki.
firebirdshockey.ca: Fair enough. So what can we expect to see that's different from the Firebirds in the second half of this season?
damag: Really not a whole lot. We had a great start. The team has really cooled off lately. With the exception of the Knights absolutely destroying everyone, and the Ogopogoes playing all their rookies, this is one of the most competitive MLD seasons I've seen yet. My rookies have been playing really well but they've been nicked up and are hitting the wall a little. And it sure would be nice to have one of our goalies take the ball and run with it. But I'm still optimistic that we might have a shot at picking things up over the second half.
11/29/2008 12:18 PM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
December 23/08 - Pontiac Firebirds Season Thirteen Recap
Regular Season Record - 36-32-10-4 (8th POW Conference; 4th Patrick Division)
Playoffs Round 1 - Lost to Gotham City Knights 0 - 4
Season 13 was a frustrating one for the Pontiac Firebirds, as the team's tremendous progress at the offensive end of the rink coincided with uncharacteristic defensive instability. None of the team's goalies ever stepped up to claim the number one slot; as a result every team success was short lived. This team won five games in a row but once, never lost more than four in a row, and squeaked into the playoffs as an Eight seed. The nondescript season ended conclusively with a four-game sweep by the MLD's dominant team, Gotham City.
Season Thirteen Leaders:
Goals - Duke Snyder / Lowell McDaniel (19)
Assists - Paul Seppola (44 - 2nd MLD)
Points - Seppola (51 - T9 MLD)
+/- - Paul Seppola / Marc Tiala (+17)
PP Goals - Andreas Manna (3 - T2 MLD)
SH Goals - none
PIM - Jesse Liikkanen (20)
Shots on Goal - Snyder (225)
Shooting % - Darryl Riskala (13.4%) - min. 50 shots
Games, Goalie - Bo Darville (42)
Shutouts - Darville (8 - 6th MLD)
Wins - Darville (15)
GAA - Darville (1.85)
Sv% - Darville (93.41) - min. 20 games
MVP - Ante Krkac
Top-three status in most team stats plus top-pairing icetime in all situations makes Krkac the Firebirds' most dominant defenceman since Ilya Moltsi.
Top Forward - Lowell McDaniel
A breakout season for the young winger, leading the Firebirds' forwards in goals and plus-minus rating.
Top Defenceman
- Paul Seppola
Strong puck-mover led the team in points, assists and plus-minus rating.
Top Goalie - Bo Darville
Inconsistent this season, Darville still showed his trademark shutout flair at times.
Top Rookie - Jesse Liikkanen
After a strong start Liikkanen's rookie season tailed off, but he's yet another fine addition to a strong and young Firebirds defence corps.
Retiring Firebirds after Season 13
RW Tony Montana (93/72/65/47/65)
477 games played... 57-58-115... 0 career rating... steady and strong, Montana became a lineup fixture, always honest and hard working.
D Paul Seppola (86/100/100/1/100)
485 games played... 30-173-203... -9 career rating... supremely skilled but injury-prone in his first MLD seasons, Seppola became an assist machine in the Firebirds' system after arriving in a trade from the Yorkton Millers.
LW Jim Rockford (100/59/70/1/72)
573 games played... 116-65-181... +53 career rating... the fourth Franchise Player in Bruins/Firebirds history. First draft pick ever by Coach damag after the relocation of the franchise. A prolific gunner in his early MLD career, Rockford became a sound defensive forward in later seasons. He voluntarily vacates the Franchise Player slot in favour of Melvin Smiley.
12/23/2008 9:33 AM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
January 10/09 - Season 14 Preview
After one of the most hectic offseasons in Pontiac Firebirds history, MLD Season 14 promises to bring major changes to the team's lineup. The Firebirds' discouraging luck continued through the offseason, culminating in the controversy of the MLD Season 14 Draft. "I let things get away from me", says Coach damag, "but it started long before the draft. I'd fire me if I weren't the only one here."
Despite holding the ninth pick in the draft, damag could find no single prospect he was truly bullish over, save for the obvious top player in the draft. "So I played it safe, hoping for a good solid defensive forward. Nothing spectacular." But just like last season, an early run on right wingers ensued and the Firebirds were reaching for hard-working Gunnar Sundman. "Nothing about his game stands out", says damag, "but he's a strong kid; his work ethic will make or break him."
The second round erupted in controversy when damag had to leave the draft table. "Too many chili dogs for lunch. I loves me some chili dogs" says damag ruefully. Leaving instructions for his scouts to draft the best available defenseman, damag was outraged to find that they'd tabbed flamboyant Carl Risto with the pick. Only intervention by fellow MLD GM yogsloth kept damag from firing the entire scouting staff and cutting Risto on the spot. "Honestly, Carl was not a guy I would have chosen on my own. He simply doesn't fit the mold of what I think an MLD defenseman should be. But on further reflection, I realized that for my own prejudices, I've never had a defenseman like him on the roster. Who knows? Maybe what we need is exactly a guy like him."
That thought process led to the biggest realization of the offseason for damag. "We expected a lot last season, we thought we were ready to contend, we were coming off a division championship, we got a lot better at scoring goals, and we ended up fourth in the division. What that tells me is that I simply haven't done as good a job of player development as the other managers in the Patrick Division. And that means it's time for big changes."
This season gives a shot to players lower down on the Firebirds depth chart, including rookie goalie Darren Tallberg, the team's third-round pick. Other draft picks Luciano Sjoman, Rags Pernaa and Otto Uunila were let go in training camp, with no room on the roster for them. Veterans Ante Krkac, Andreas Manna, and perhaps even Darryl Riskala will receive some time off this season in the name of player development.
New franchise player and team captain Melvin Smiley leads the new-look Firebirds into action on opening night! For tickets, call 1-888-SCREECH.
Firebirds draftees:
(1) - RW Gunnar Sundman
(2) - D Carl Risto
(3) - G Darren Tallberg
(4) - LW Luciano Sjoman
(5) - D Rags Pernaa
(6) - RW Otto Uunila
1/10/2009 3:09 PM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
January 21/09 - Breaking News: damag Steps Down
Only 14 games into MLD Season 14, and with the Pontiac Firebirds having only two wins to their record thus far, Coach damag today stepped down from day-to-day operations of the team, with a brief statement.
"In light of my horrific mismanagement of this team, and my complete lack of understanding of the competitive balance of the MLD at this point in time, I consider myself unfit to operate this team right now. Coach Karlis Ottavainen immediately assumes all control of the Pontiac Firebirds' daily affairs. I will make myself available to the MLD Head Offices in the event of any league matters, but other than that, the bloggers at firedamag.com won't have me to kick around till next season."
A stunning turn of events, in a season gone horribly wrong for the floundering Firebirds. Coach Ottavainen addressed the situation, "Well, you never know what transmogrifications a man may eludidate... Coach damag obviously felt that the statius of this enfranchisement was beyond his capacity to evolute. So my mandrake now is to devolve the talent we have here, to slow the seeds if you will, for better days ahead... a new elocution of our doctrine."
1/21/2009 6:02 PM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
January 26/09 - Sundman-for-Nurro: Shocker
In a remarkable departure from convention, and an unexpected turn of events given damag's apparent absence from the team's operations, the Pontiac Firebirds yesterday traded first-round draft pick right wing Gunnar Sundman to the Okanagan Ogopogoes for rookie center Lou Nurro.
Coach Karlis Ottavainen was unable to dissect the deal for us. "I got back to my office after practice and found the offer from Okanagan waiting for us. And then a two-word message from damag on my Blackberry: "Do it."
We can only speculate as to the intent of the trade, but damag's instruction to Coach Ottavainen, to develop the younger players on the roster, the team short of one natural center. Nurro, the Ogopogoes' second-round draft pick, profiles as a similar prospect to Sundman but with possibly higher upside. damag has shown a strong belief in developing talent at the center position, but this marks the first time a first-round pick has ever been dealt away in this franchise's history.
All speculation at this point, as the Firebirds' curious Season 14 continues.
1/26/2009 9:23 AM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
January 28/09 - Invisible GM Runs Wild; Storm Moves In
Yet another surprising trade has brought veteran LW Gaetan Storm into the Pontiac Firebird ranks. D Alvin Vihkola was swapped to the injury-riddled NY Junk Yard Dogs today, a move that sees the longest-tenured Firebird skater finally escape the trading block purgatory that has marked his run with this franchise.
Storm, a former high draft pick of the Yorkton Millers, has never established himself as a frontline skater in his MLD career, but he'll get his best chance now as he steps into the inexperienced Firebirds lineup immediately.
1/29/2009 8:50 AM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
March 5/09 - Pontiac Firebirds Season Fourteen Recap
Regular Season Record - 26-39-15-2 (10th POW Conference; 3rd Patrick Division)
Season Fourteen Leaders:
Goals - Scot Borenius / Rick O'Shea (18)
Assists - Duke Snyder (20)
Points - Borenius (34)
+/- - Carl Risto (+7)
PP Goals - Darryl Riskala / Rick O'Shea (2)
SH Goals - none
PIM - Jesse Liikkanen (20)
Shots on Goal - O'Shea (171)
Shooting % - Borenius (13.1%) - min. 50 shots
Games, Goalie - Darren Tallberg (53)
Shutouts - Tallberg (4)
Wins - Tallberg (17)
GAA - Viteszlav Leru (2.16)
Sv% - Leru (92.40) - min. 20 games
MVP and Top Forward - Melvin Smiley
Franchise forward led by example in all phases of the game. Simply the most consistent player on the team.
Top Defenceman and Rookie
- Carl Risto
Heavily criticized draft pick turned out to be the Firebirds' most consistent defenseman this season.
Top Goalie - Darren Tallberg
Rookie showed flashes of brilliance and strength to handle a full schedule of games.
3/5/2009 1:22 PM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
March 20/09 - Season 15 Preview
"Four home runs, two solid singles... in baseball terms, that's a big rally." So goes General Manager damag's assessment of the Pontiac Firebirds' Season 15 draft haul, potentially one of the best draft classes in franchise history. Picking in the fourth slot, the Firebirds were positioned to take advantage given a few breaks and they did not disappoint.
The first round landed immediate starter RW Jeff Clinton at a need position, one the Firebirds haven't truly filled since the retirement of Karel Blomm. In the second round, a future mainstay of the club was unearthed in G Jesse James Dean. The next two rounds shored up future depth with RW Vadim Stroganov and LW Jean-Sebastien Sinjoi. And rounds 5 and 6 landed developmental prospects D Colin Elvis and D Risto Sinilaakso.
"We think we've made the roster a lot younger, with a lot more upside" says damag. Indeed, for the first time in many seasons, all six draftees will make the final roster, as four veteran players have been given their release to clear roster slots.
In addition, voluntary retirement has been taken by RW Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, who finishes his MLD career with 34 goals and 63 assists in 344 games; and G Vitezslav Leru, who posted a record of 99-94-29 in 255 MLD games, with a career GAA of 2.10 and save percentage of 92.6.
Don't look for many of the new kids in Firebirds uniforms soon, though. Several Firebirds veterans have been itching to return to the lineup. More than one longtime fan favourite may play out his final MLD campaign this season. For the team's fans, the familiar names can't return too soon.
Leru moves onto the team's coaching staff immediately as the new Firebirds goaltending coach. Karlis Ottavainen will remain behind the bench this season, as damag has chosen to focus exclusively on GM duties going forward.
Firebirds draftees:
(1) - RW Jeff Clinton
(2) - G Jesse James Dean
(3) - RW Vadim Stroganov
(4) - LW Jean-Sebastien Sinjoi
(5) - D Colin Elvis
(6) - D Risto Sinilaakso
3/20/2009 1:51 PM
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5/15/2009 2:39 PM
- firebirdshockey.ca -
June 6/09 - Season 16 Preview
The crushing disappointment of last season's catastrophic playoff flameout has given way to cautious optimism in the Pontiac Firebirds camp heading into MLD Season 16. This will be the first season played under the MLD's new rule revisions, and there is widespread speculation that the referee's handling of game situations may lead to a wider-open style of play.
In the past offseason, due to their franchise-best finish holding the first seed in the Prince of Wales Conference, the Firebirds held the 23rd pick in each round of the MLD Draft. With replacements for last season's retired veterans already on the roster acquired in the Season 15 Draft, the Firebirds took advantage of the controversial new drafting format and tabbed surprise pick C Brian Tarvas in round one. "Brian is purely a developmental player at this point" says GM damag, "but what we saw in workouts was amazing. He flashes incredible potential for long term growth, and with that pick we just didn't want to chance losing out on him." Rounds two and three brought depth additions RW Darrel Myllyntaus and D Enio Jassu, and with a fully stocked roster at hand, the final three rounds were essentially for ceremonial purposes.
So what to expect for Season 16? "Hard to say" replies damag. "This is still the most competitive league in simhockey, and any team can rise up to compete or even dominate in any season. At least we're returning a veteran core, and frankly our lineup looks better right now than I'd expected, even with several rookies in play."
Firebirds draftees:
(1) - C Brian Tarvas
(2) - RW Darrel Myllyntaus
(3) - D Enio Jassu
(4) - LW Maxim Mattus
(5) - D Cristobal Pouttu
(6) - D Obs Mallinen
6/7/2009 9:56 AM
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10/11/2009 11:52 AM
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3/1/2010 12:36 PM
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