Firebirds’ Riley Piercey starts strong in bid to catch Red Wings’ eye at prospects tourney

Flint Firebirds forward Riley Piercey came to the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City hoping to make a name for himself.

He did just that on Friday, scoring four goals in the Detroit Red Wings’ 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Center ICE Arena.

Like other undrafted free agents invited to this tournament and training camp, Piercey, 20, is hoping to impress scouts and team personnel and eventually earn an NHL contract.

“It’s highly known there’s a lot of eyes (here),” Piercey said. “It’s a great experience. Just come in and take it day by day, see what life throws at me and we’ll go from there.”

Piercey (6-2, 212) was second on the Firebirds in goals (27) and third in points (58), behind Brennan Othman, drafted 16th overall by the New York Rangers in 2021, and Amadeus Lombardi, the Red Wings’ fourth -round pick this year who also is taking part in this tournament.

Piercey scored in a variety of ways Friday – a deflection in the first period, a snipe in the second period and a breakaway and short rebound in the third. It is the first time he has scored four goals in a game at any level.

“I guess it was just one of those nights,” Piercey said. “Puck bounces were there. I capitalized on my opportunities when I had them. It’s just hockey. It’s just one of those games. I thought I did well.”

Grand Rapids Griffins coach Ben Simon, who is coaching Detroit’s prospects, said of Piercey: “Obviously a night like that you don’t get too often. I’m happy for him. Hopefully, that will breed some confidence and lead into training camp. Good for him having a good first game and let’s see what that leads to.”

The Red Wings face the Dallas Stars tonight at 6 (live-streamed at DetroitRedWings.com).

The Red Wings invited Piercey to development camp at Little Caesars Arena in July and he played well enough to earn an invite to the main camp.

“Now I’m just here trying to make a good name for myself,” he said.

Piercey’s development was set back when he didn’t play in 2020-21 after the OHL season was scrapped due to the pandemic. He is trying to make up for lost time.

“It’s definitely mentally tough,” he said. “It was one of those things where it’s either you put hockey in the back of your mind or you put hockey ahead in your mind, so I chose the second option and put my nose down and went to work in every aspect I could. It was tough with everything being shut down, but there’s guys doing things on their own and you have to take the initiative.”

Piercey said after camp he will return to the Firebirds for his overage season.

“I’m a big guy, so skating is definitely the big thing for me, and I think I had a good last few summers kind of growing in that aspect but with hockey there’s always room for improvement everywhere,” Piercey said. “So, it’s one of those things where you go back to junior hockey and step into that bigger role.”

More: Seven Red Wings prospects to watch at Traverse City tournament

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