by Connor Williams via OHLCup.ca
Toronto, Ont. – In front of a big Monday night crowd at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, the Toronto Jr. Canadiens capped-off a perfect 2023 OHL Cup Showcase, defeating the Vaughan Kings 3-0 to be crowned OHL Cup champions for a third time.
With three points in the game, Luka Graziano (4) opened the scoring for the Jr. Canadiens at 6:10 of the first period with a shot from the point on the power play.
“We’ve had a very good power play,” said Graziano. “I was in the right spot at the right time, did what I was meant to do, and I’m happy it went in.”
At 2:58 of the second period, captain Jake O’Brien (7) would extend the Jr. Canadiens lead with a shot from the right circle. A top prospect for the 2023 OHL Priority Selection, O’Brien received the Tim Adams Memorial Trophy as OHL Cup MVP, setting a new Jr. Canadiens OHL Cup scoring record with 17 points.
“Our team came to play today. This is the biggest tournament of the year and we knew what we had to do to pull this one off. I’m proud of this team and happy we could pull out the win,” said O’Brien, speaking about his multi-point performance.
Evan Malkhassian (2) picked up his second point of the contest potting home the empty-netter at with a minute and a half to go in the game.
Making some big saves down the stretch including a big stop against a Vaughan two-on-one, Jr. Canadiens goaltender Alex Armellin stopped all 21 shots he faced in the game as he picked up his second shutout. Twin brothers Alex and Nico Armellin combined to surrender just three goals in the tournament, helping the Jr. Canadiens establish a new OHL Cup record.
Armellin praised his defence as he discussed his shutout in the biggest game of the year saying, “My defence made it pretty easy for me, I didn’t really get tested too much, and all tournament our forwards and defence were great in the defensive zone. It’s just unbelievable to get the win.
The loss ends a cinderella run to the final for Vaughan as they became the first team in OHL Cup history to reach the big dance following an 0-2 start to the showcase. They defeated the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs 4-0 to enter the showcase as a wild card team. Forward Carter Kostuch was named to the OHL Cup Gatorade All-Star Team, leading Vaughan in scoring with 11 points.
The Toronto Jr. Canadiens played to a perfect 7-0-0 record, outscoring their opponents 32-3. JRC defeated Vaughan in the Round Robin, as well as the the Thunder Bay Kings, York-Simcoe Express, and the Sun County Panthers to finish as the top seed heading into the Quarterfinals.
The Jr. Canadiens would follow a successful round robin up with dominant victories over the London Jr. Knights and Waterloo Wolves to advance to the Championship Final, capturing the third OHL Cup title in their history.
For more on the OHL Cup, visit OHLCup.ca.