February 21, 2015, Mississauga, Ontario – The Ontario Junior Hockey League’s 2014-15 regular season officially wrapped up this weekend with its first award winners being announced.
OJHL Regular Season Champion – Aurora Tigers
OJHL Top Scorer – Steve Hladin, Georgetown Raiders
OJHL Top Goaltender – Stefano Durante, Cobourg Cougars
The Aurora Tigers, Georgetown Raiders, Toronto Patriots and Trenton Golden Hawks were champions of their respective divisions, while the Aurora Tigers brought home the regular season crown for the third time in franchise history and the first time since winning a National Championship in 2006-07. The battle went right down the wire with the Tigers defeating the Golden Hawks 4-2 on Friday night to clinch the crown. This also marked the Tigers third consecutive North Division crown with a 44-7-3 record for 91 points to clinch the number one seed throughout the duration of the OJHL post-season. Runner-up Trenton, who captured the regular season title two years ago, clinched their third East Division title in four seasons on the strength of a 41-10-3 record for a .787 winning percentage. Finishing third in the OJHL standings was the West Division champion Georgetown Raiders, who clinched their first West Division title since 2012 with a .759 winning percentage. Perhaps the tightest of the Division races was South, where the defending OJHL champion Toronto Patriots claimed their second consecutive Division title during the final days of the season.
After finishing as the runner-up in the OJHL scoring race last season, Georgetown Raiders captain Steve Hladin picked-up where he left off and led the league for most of the 2014-15 season, finishing the year with a league high 63 assists and 104 points in 52 games played. Hladin becomes just the second member of the Raiders to clinch the scoring race, joining Stace Page, who led the league with 54 goals and 123 points in 1998-99. He is also the first 100 point man in the OJHL since CJHL Player of the Year Christian Finch of the Stouffville Spirit hit the milestone in 2011-12.
Brady Wiffen of the Trenton Golden Hawks was runner-up to Hladin for the OJHL Top Scorer Award, but was the OJHL’s top goal scorer, burying 53 goals in 52 games played. Wiffen becomes the first 50 goal scorer in the OJHL since Tyler Gjurich of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres in 2012-13 and is in elite company by becoming the 65th player since 1970-71 to hit the magical mark, joining the likes of Steve Thomas, Brian Gionta, Adam Oates and George McPhee. He is also just the second player in franchise history to notch 50 goals, joining Mark Prentice who recorded 56 goals in 2005-06 as a member of the Port Hope Predators. Previously in Trenton history, Noel Burkitt of the Trenton Sting tallied 52 goals in 1997-98.
The defensive scoring race was as tight as ever with Christian Lloyd of the Trenton Golden Hawks leading the league with 52 points in 51 games played on the strength of 17 goals and 35 assists. Eric Williams of the Aurora Tigers was runner-up to Lloyd with 50 points, while also leading all rearguards with 22 goals, including 17 power play goals that was second among all players in the OJHL. Niko Kovachis of the Toronto Patriots was tops in assists with 39 helpers.
Rookie netminder Stefano Durante of the Cobourg Cougars takes home Top Goaltender honours by leading the entire OJHL with a spectacular 1.79 goals against average. The Top Goaltender Award is presented annually to the goaltender that leads the OJHL with the lowest goals against average. Durante joins the OJHL record book with the fourth best goals against average in league history, behind the record setting 1.40 by Dayne Davis of the Wellington Dukes in 2002-03, He is also the first member of the Cougars to win the award. Daniel Mannella of the Oakville Blades was runner-up to Durante, posting a 2.08 goals against average on the season. Other league leaders include Andy Munroe of the Aurora Tigers with 30 wins and Durante with a .937 save percentage. While there was a three-way tie with five shutouts between Durante, Mannella and Georgetown’s Marc Williams.
The 2014-15 OJHL playoffs begin on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 and the Conference Quarter-Final match-ups are as follows:
North-East Conference: (1) Aurora vs. (8) Newmarket
(2) Trenton vs. (7) Wellington
(3) Cobourg vs. (6) Whitby
(4) Kingston vs. (5) Stouffville
South-East Conference: (1) Georgetown vs. (8) Buffalo
(2) Patriots vs. (7) St. Michael’s
(3) Oakville vs. (6) Orangeville
(4) Jr. Canadiens vs. (5) North York
About the OJHL – “League of Choice”
The Ontario Junior Hockey League is the largest Junior ‘A’ league operating under the auspices of the Canadian Junior Hockey League with 22 member clubs. A proud member of the Ontario Hockey Association, the OJHL was originally named the Ontario Provincial Junior ‘A’ Hockey League and it was formed out of the Central Junior ‘B’ Hockey League in 1993-94. With a long and storied history of developing players for the next level, including the CIS, NCAA, CHL, Minor Pro ranks and the NHL, the OJHL had more than 150 commitments in 2012-13, including 56 NCAA Division I scholarships.