By: Bryan Thiel
After the London Knights dominated the Ontario Hockey League playoffs to the tune of a 16-2 record and 13 straight wins, they’re OHL champions for the third time since 2011 and off to their fourth Mastercard Memorial Cup in that span.
Now, as with any dominating playoff run, there were a number of stars: Mitch Marner was the recipient of the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award as playoff MVP, Matthew Tkachuk led the league in goals, Christian Dvorak had a very pedestrian 35 points in 18 games, and Tyler Parsons backstopped the team to all 16 of their wins (which is important, considering 22 different goalies recorded decisions in these playoffs).
If you were to do some more digging, it’d be very easy to find a pair of defencemen to round out an all-London Knights playoff All-Star team. But where’s the fun in that? While the Knights will be well-represented across the first and second All-Star teams, we did our best to gather up a handful of other OHL’ers to round out both squads, for Across the OHL’s (Delayed by an ill-timed vacation) playoff All-Star team.
Mitch Marner, LONDON (GP: 18; G: 16 A: 28)
When you win the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award, it’s pretty difficult to be left off of an All-Star team.
Marner ended up leading the playoffs in scoring (44 points), assists (28) and plus/minus (+30), recording at least a point in 17 of 18 playoff games. He scored a single point in just four of the 17 games he scored in, and recorded a goal and six assists in four games against Niagara in the Rogers OHL Championship Series. Marner also mixed in seven games where he recorded three or more points. Needless to say, Toronto Maple Leafs fans are pretty excited right now.
Josh Ho-Sang, NIAGARA (GP: 17; G: 6 A: 20)
Finding a home alongside Pavel Jenys and Stephen Harper, Josh Ho-Sang scored more points in 17 games this year (26 points) than he had in the 15 other playoff games he had played in (19 points). After a troublesome start to the year when he was sent home from Islanders’ training camp, Ho-Sang ended things off with a bang, scoring the most points of any non-Knight in the playoffs (tied with Barrie’s Keven LaBanc). He finished tied for third in the playoffs in assists and first in power play assists with 12, and was held scoreless in just three of his 17 games. Despite that, some still weren’t a huge fan of him during the IceDogs’ run, so he’ll still be interesting to follow throughout the professional ranks.
Justin Scott, BARRIE (GP: 15; G: 17 A: 3)
How’s this for longevity: After the Barrie Colts fell to Niagara in four games in the Eastern Conference Final, Justin Scott led the playoffs in goals until a Game 2 hat-trick from Matthew Tkachuk in the finals gave him a lead he would never relinquish. Scott still sits second after the fact, thanks to a four-goal game against Mississauga and a four-game goal-scoring streak that included a hat-trick in the clincher against the Steelheads. Scott was so good he earned himself an entry-level contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets and has been skating with Lake Erie during their Calder Cup run.
Second Team: Matthew Tkachuk (LDN), Christian Dvorak (LDN), Kevin LaBanc (BAR)
Scout’s Honour: Boris Katchouk, SSM (GP: 12; G: 6 A 4)
Rasmus Andersson, BARRIE (GP: 15; G: 2 A: 13)
While it can probably be attributed to the fact that these OHL playoffs were uncharacteristically short, Andersson finished the post-season as the leading scorer among defencemen despite being ousted in the Conference finals. Although he had just two points in four games against Niagara in the East final, he was held scoreless in just two of the eleven games before that, which included three games of two points or more.
Jacob Graves, LONDON (GP: 18; G: 0 A: 10)
Sure it’s not flashy, but the OA defender ended up leading defencemen in the playoffs in plus/minus (+26) and received the OHL’s final Player of the Week award for 2016. While it’s not a hard feat to accomplish when your team doesn’t lose, Graves never logged a minus rating in the playoffs. Adding in the fact he was a +9 in the finals as he logged big minutes alongside Olli Juolevi, and Graves had a magical end to his OHL career.
Second Team: Victor Mete (LDN), Olli Juolevi (LDN)
Scout’s Honour: Nicolas Hague, MIS (GP: 7; A: 2 +/-: 2)
Tyler Parsons, LDN (16-1-1; GAA: 2.15; SV%: 0.925)
On a team with offensive superstars, high-end draft eligibles, and a penchant for polarizing the OHL, Parsons put up quietly elite numbers. He was first in goals-against average and save percentage by fairly wide margins, but those numbers aren’t falsely inflated either: He also led the playoffs in shots-against and saves. The Knights lost two games on their way to another championship before Parsons backstopped them to 13-straight wins, and he closed out the run by allowing a goal or less in six of his last seven games.
Second Team: Brandon Halverson (SSM)
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who has covered the OHL from rink-side and the broadcast booth. He has also helped produce OHL features for the past four seasons. You can follow him on Twitter @BryanThiel_88.