Category Archives: OHL Championship

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Ottawa 67’s Goalie Cedrick Andree Propels Team to OHL History

OTTAWA– For the Ottawa 67’s this postseason, their mantra has been “No Quit.” It’s not just a convenient hashtag. It’s a mindset that the Ottawa 67’s adapted in Game 2 in their OHL Championship Series against the Guelph Storm.

The Guelph Storm were pouncing on the league-leading 67’s early on. With two goals from Alexey Toropchenko and Keegan Stevenson in the span of a minute, the Storm was looking to surge their way to secure Game 2. To make matters worse for Ottawa, their starting goalie, Vancouver Canucks prospect Michael DiPietro, went down with a lower-body injury and was done for the game.

Enter 18-year-old Cedrick Andree. The Ottawa 67’s goalie who had 34 wins, a 2.48 goals-against average and a 0.91 save percentage this season, came in relief and stole the show. Generating 26 saves and surviving the onslaught of chances from Guelph in the third period, Andree would propel his team to history. With the Game 2 win Saturday afternoon, the Ottawa 67’s become the first team in OHL history to go 14-0 to start the playoffs.

A moment that young Cedric will never forget.

“I always say one thing in my head: watch the puck,” said Andree after the game. “While the fan support was awesome, I was tuning it out as best I can to watch the puck and make big saves for my team.”
Cedrick Andree Patiently Waited for His Moment And Got It
Getting over 8,000 fans to chant your name was not in the cards for Cedrick Andree. There was a moment, where he was considering leaving the game of hockey altogether.

Growing up as a Dutch Canadian in the town of Orleans, Andree dreamt of the opportunity to sport the red and white jersey of the Ottawa 67’s. But he did not grow up in a family that eats and breathes hockey. His father was a skier, and that influence to pursue competitive skiing weighed on young Cedrick. But when the goalie got selected to play for the Cumberland Jr. grads, he solely focused on the game of hockey. And the rest is history.

In 2016, Andree was a 12th round pick in the OHL Draft. He joined the Ottawa 67’s in the 2017-2018 season, only to finish the season with a 1-10 record as the backup goalie. This adversity did not hinder Cedrick. He invested tremendous time and energy to get better and to improve. This season, with being one of a handful of OHL goalies to get over 30 wins, Andree proved that not giving up was well worth the obstacle-ridden journey.

“I never thought I could play competitive hockey at this level,” stated Andree.
Cedrick Andree Shines in Relief for Ottawa 67’s
It’s never easy for a goalie of Cedrick Andree’s caliber to hear that they are going to be a backup. But Andree never complained or whined about his position. He was a teacher and a supportive teammate for DiPietro, allowing him to transition effortlessly into the Ottawa 67’s locker room. It is no wonder why Ottawa 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny is proud of his two stellar goalies.

“We have great depth in net. Two number one goalies,” said Tourigny after Game 2. “Cedrick is a top CHL goalie. He proved it again today the quality of goaltender he is.”

When Andree was substituted into the net, the Ottawa 67’s immediately galvanized. They started playing their physical brand of hockey. Four different 67’s scored goals today, including Dallas Stars prospect Tye Felhaber and San Jose Sharks prospect Sasha Chmelevski. Despite only registering nine shots on net in the second period, the Guelph Storm picked up their play in the third period. Their intensity and ability to win faceoffs meant that Cedrick Andree was facing more shots on goal.

In the dying minutes of the third, Andree made not one, but two, remarkable, championship worthy saves. Sending TD Place in Ottawa into a frenzy. It is the kind of saves in big games that a young kid would dream of. For Cedrick, he was able to make his dream become a reality.

“After the first save, I was shocked I got it,” said Andree. “There was puck luck on my side. I found a way to make those saves. It was pretty special to hear all the fans chanting my name and to have the support of my teammates.”

The 67’s, fresh off of making history, head to Guelph hoping to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. The Storm is looking to repeat the recent history of coming back from series deficits. For Cedrick Andree, his goal is to help his team win. And with the way he performed under tremendous pressure on Saturday afternoon, perhaps a Memorial Cup is in his sights in the not too distant future.The post Ottawa 67’s Goalie Cedrick Andree Propels Team to OHL History appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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San Jose Sharks Prospect Sasha Chmelevski Relishing in OHL Final

OTTAWA– The Ottawa 67’s and San Jose Sharks have been on similar paths. While one organization may be junior and the professional, they share the common joy of competing in their respective postseasons. And since 2017, the Sharks have invested into young forward Sasha Chmelevski, drafting him and watching him develop with the 67’s. In Game 1 of the OHL Championship Series, Chmelevski was a star on the ice. He got the scoring going for Ottawa in the first period. He would eventually generate two goals, propelling the 67’s to a 7-2 victory over the Guelph Storm. Despite taking nine penalties, Chmelevski was ecstatic with his team’s ability to handle the pressure of playing in a Championship series.

“The best thing about this team is we always live in the present,” said Chmelevski after the game. “We did a good job responding to adversity. You don’t just win 13 games by accident.”
Chmelevski Has Showcased Offensive Abilities Since OHL Draft
Sasha Chmelevski isn’t your ordinary hockey story. He didn’t grow up in the snowy hills or frozen ponds of Canada. Instead, he was born in Huntington Beach, California, a place marked by sunny skies and surfing.

Growing up in California could present an obstacle to breaking into hockey. But not for Chmelevski. From early on, Sasha demonstrated tremendous ability to break out into the offensive zone. His stick handling and ability to control the puck are second to none, and from an early age, he showed an affinity to score goals. This is what attracted the Sarnia Sting to initially draft the young forward in the 2015 OHL Draft. But 29 games played with the Sting, Chmelevski struggled to adjust to the pace and physicality of the OHL. Only generating nine goals and eight assists, the Sting traded Chemlevski to the Ottawa 67’s.

A move that according to Sasha’s Father, Tal, made all the difference for the forward to become a prolific scorer in the league.

“Ah, Ottawa has been very good to us,” Tal said. “Sasha is having a blast here.”
Chmelevski Relishing Opportunity to Help Ottawa 67’s Win OHL Championship
It appears that the choice to draft Sasha Chmelevski has paid off for the San Jose Sharks. Last season, Chmelevski has a career-high 76 points for the 67’s (35 goals, 41 assists), earning him a chance to play six games for the Sharks’ AHL affiliate squad. This season was a mirror to last year, generating 35 goals and 40 assists in 56 games. Despite a slower start to the season, Ottawa 67’s coach Andre Tourigny has been impressed with Chmelevski’s development offensively and defensively.

“He’s not a fast starter, but this year he took over a little bit earlier,” said Tourigny. “It was in late November when he started getting the points like he is now.

“The big thing about Sasha is his best asset can be the worst enemy as well. His best asset, for me, is his competitiveness. You play ping pong with Sasha, and if he loses, he will want to fight. At the start of the year, he was pushing a lot to get points.”

When it has mattered most, Chmelevski has risen to the expectations. This postseason, where the Ottawa 67’s have gone a perfect 13-0 thus far, Sasha has eight goals and 17 assists in 23 games played. In Game 1 of the OHL Championship Series against the Storm, Chmelevski scored the game’s first goal and was an anchor on an Ottawa 67’s powerplay that generated four goals.

With his stellar play in the OHL Playoffs, Chmelevski will likely have a full-time role for the San Jose Sharks AHL team, the San Jose Barracuda. The San Jose Sharks are currently in the heart of the NHL Playoffs, looking to advance to their second Western Conference Final in four years. For Sasha Chmelevski, his sole focus is helping the Ottawa 67’s qualify to the CHL Memorial Cup in Halifax. And to emulate the performance of his current NHL team in the playoffs.

 The post San Jose Sharks Prospect Sasha Chmelevski Relishing in OHL Final appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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Season-Long Domination vs. Come Back: An OHL Championship Preview

The 2019 OHL Championship Series is a battle of contrasts. A team marked by season-long domination taking on a team entrenched with the come back mantra. The Ottawa 67’s, a franchise who is undefeated this postseason, are taking on the Guelph Storm, an organization who has won back to back game 7’s on the road.

While both teams have taken starkly different journeys to get to the Final, it doesn’t diminish what’s at stake. For both Ottawa and Guelph, not only is it a spot in the annals of junior hockey history. But an opportunity to compete among the best junior teams in Canada at the Memorial Cup in Halifax.

After a long, grueling season that began in September, it’s time to drop the puck on what should be a thrilling OHL Championship Series.
Ottawa 67’s Relying on Consistent Dominance in OHL Championship
From early on in the season, the Ottawa 67’s were the best team in the OHL. Finishing the season with a league-leading 106 points, the 67’s were in a class of their own, led by forwards Tye Felhaber and Austen Keating, as well as Vancouver Canucks goalie prospect Michael DiPietro. Felhaber, who went from being undrafted to signing an NHL contract with the Stars, was third in the OHL in scoring with 109 points (59 goals, 50 assists). Keating would be the primary winger to set up Felhaber consistently throughout the season, racking up 22 goals and 67 assists.

But it was when the 67’s acquired goalie Mikey DiPietro in a trade with the Windsor Spitfires, when Ottawa became a legitimate championship contender. DiPietro led the season in goals against average (2.40) and was third in save percentage (0.911). Having these star players, as well as a deep roster, has allowed Ottawa 67’s coach Andre Tourigny to implement a strategy of physicality and speed on the ice.

“Our guys are hard-working guys,” Tourigny said. “They practiced hard every day during the season, and we didn’t change our approach in the playoffs. The biggest thing is to stay physical during practice. You don’t want bad habits.”
Ottawa 67’s Using Flooding Emergency as Unifying Moment
As the Ottawa 67’s embark on this championship series, they are looking to make OHL history. Currently 12-0, the 67’s have swept the Hamilton Bulldogs, Sudbury Wolves and Oshawa Generals en route to the Final, and are one win away from breaking the record for longest consecutive playoff winning streak.

But the city of Ottawa is currently dealing with severe flooding. People in the surrounding cities and towns have been forced to leave their homes. What may seem like adversity has provided a bonding opportunity for the 67’s players to help the community.

“We do a lot of community service,” stated Tourigny. “When I presented the idea to our leadership of helping the community they were happy for us to contribute.”

A couple days ago, several Ottawa 67’s players and coaching personnel were critical in providing support and help in the flooding recovery effort. From lifting sandbags to interacting with Ottawa citizens, this team is providing hope and optimism for a city ravaged with destruction and uncertainty.

“These players stay on the ball. Even if they have success, they have fun together,” says Tourigny. “Many of the players stayed around longer, helping with sandbags. Sure, we want to win a hockey game. But when you help the community and do good things, the impact goes much farther.”
The Storm of Guelph is Filled with Comebacks
When Isaac Ratcliffe was drafted to the Guelph Storm two years ago, he had high hopes that playing in the OHL would accelerate his hockey development. While Ratcliffe was improving his high hockey IQ and creating scoring opportunities, unfortunately the Storm did not make the playoffs in his first two seasons.

For Ratcliffe, the even-tempered Philadelphia Flyers prospect finally released his emotions, after the Storm captured their second consecutive Game 7 against the Saginaw Spirit. To make his first OHL Championship Series has made the journey even more special.

“Coming into the OHL I didn’t know what to expect,” said Ratcliffe. “We knew two years ago that this would be our year. To see us improve and to stick by this team all the way, it means a lot. We aren’t done yet.”

Guelph Storm Head Coach and General Manager George Burnett should be credited for bringing in the quality players that provided the impetus for this playoff run. Chicago Blackhawks prospect Mackenzie Entwistle has provided solid big-game experience for the Storm, generating 15 goals and 15 assists in 28 games played. Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, also acquired at the deadline, has been the anchor for Guelph’s offence in the postseason, leading the OHL with 31 points.

“It’s his IQ,” Tourigny affirmed. “If you give him something, he will make the right decision. For us, it will be important to play him right (and to) be on the right side of the puck against him. It will be a good challenge.”
Prediction: Expect a Highly Competitive Series
The Guelph Storm have already made history. No team has come back in back-to-back series, down 3-0 and 3-1 respectively, and win them both on the road. But their toughest test ahead is against the Ottawa 67’s, a team that is physically built and conditioned to endure a potentially long Championship series.

“Pretty crazy series to go down like we did and need Game 7 again,” said Ratcliffe, who has 21 points in 18 playoff games. “We hope we can bring that to the next series against a strong Ottawa team.”

Ottawa hasn’t faced a team that is deep in the forward position as Guelph. It will take a full team effort for the 67’s to slow down the offensive onslaught of Ratcliffe, Suzuki and Entwistle. But in junior hockey, solid goal-tending often is the difference in a short series. While DiPietro has been superb, Guelph needs a strong performance from goalie Anthony Popovich, who is ranked 7th in goals against average (2.87) and tenth in save percentage (0.902).

For both teams, they are looking to add another championship banner to their rafters. The 67’s haven’t won the J. Ross Robertson Trophy since 2001; for the Guelph Storm, it was 2014. The series will be highly competitive and feature high-quality, stellar junior hockey.

While the Storm’s postseason run has been nothing short of spectacular, the Ottawa 67’s have been on a whole other level this entire season. The Final will be close, but I see the 67’s clinching it and advancing to the franchise’s sixth Memorial Cup.

Prediction: Ottawa 67’s in six games.The post Season-Long Domination vs. Come Back: An OHL Championship Preview appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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