They may be based in mid Michigan but the Flint Firebirds have a firm player and scouting connection to northern Ontario.
The Firebirds not only have 2003 birth year forward Zacharie Giroux and 2004 birth date forward Samuel Assinewai but their head scout and a regional scout both have northern Ontario roots.
Hailing from Greater Sudbury, Giroux was a third round pick by Flint at the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft. And at the 2020 priority selections draft, Flint was able to come away with a sleeper of sorts by snagging Manitoulin Island native Assinewai in the 13th round.
Giroux has netted four goals, two assists, six points in 14 games thus far this season while Assinewai, who is a year younger, has one goal, one assist, two points in 11 outings.
Meanwhile, on the scouting side, Firebirds head scout Mike Oliverio is based in Sault Ste. Marie. And Freddie Coccimiglio, who was born and raised in the Sault, is the Golden Horseshoe area scout for the Firebirds.
The 54-year old Oliverio and the 40-year old Coccimiglio are veteran OHL scouts who both have high level backgrounds as players.
Oliverio was an OHL standout over five seasons as a high scoring center with his hometown Soo Greyhounds. Coccimiglio, meanwhile, was a star forward with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League before going on to play four full years of Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association hockey at Buffalo’s Canisius College.
As for the 2021-2022 edition of the Firebirds, they are more than holding their own in the five team West Division of the OHL under first-year head coach Ted Dent.
Flint has a record of 7-6-1 and is seven points back of the division-leading Soo Greyhounds with four games in hand.