Points aren’t everything, but sometimes you can’t help but want to celebrate them.
After the 2018-19 OHL regular season wrapped up on Sunday, only one player stood atop its scoring race: Dallas Stars prospect Jason Robertson.
Robertson, who split his time this season between the Kingston Frontenacs and the Niagara IceDogs, finished the campaign with an incredible 117 points (48 goals and 69 assists) in 62 games.
Unless I’m mistaken, this marks the first time that any Dallas Stars prospect has won a scoring title in any of the big three Canadian junior leagues — the OHL, the WHL and the QMJHL.
With 117 points (48G, 69A) this season, Jason Robertson is the top scorer of the 2018-19 #OHL season!— XY- Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) March 18, 2019
Robertson is the first #IceDog to be awarded the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy.
Congratulations, @JasonRob1999 #BornReady #GoStars pic.twitter.com/sc9urQ9QQv
A big winger with unbelievably precise hands, a laserbeam of a shot and elite offensive instincts, Robertson has been consistently unstoppable all season long. He was named the OHL’s player of the week for this past week, the third time that he’s received that honor this season.
Robertson has something of a reputation for being a humble, focused, team-first player, so when asked recently by Sean Shapiro about potentially winning the OHL’s scoring title he shifted the conversation to his bigger focuses: winning the Memorial Cup and making the NHL.
On whether he was worried about winning the scoring race:
“It’s there, but realistically it’s just a stat. My goal this year is to make the Memorial Cup and my end goal is to make the NHL. I don’t really care if have 20 points this year; if I play in the NHL that’s the long goal, that’s the long marathon and I want to get there.”
While Robertson might not care much about his scoring accomplishment, there’s no reason that Stars fans can’t celebrate it — and celebrate one of their team’s best prospects.
North American Juniors
With the OHL regular season now gone and done, the focus quickly shifts to the most exciting part of the season for the league: the playoffs.
Robertson and his Niagara mates finished in 2nd place in the OHL’s Eastern Conference and are at good odds to beat their opponents, the North Bay Battalion. Niagara made big moves to bolster their roster for the playoffs while North Bay didn’t, so there’s a good chance this series could be quick and painless.
While recently signed free agent Tye Felhaber lost out on the OHL scoring title, finishing third with 109 points in 68 games, his Ottawa 67’s team claimed the OHL regular season title with a fantastic record of 50-12-4-2. They’ll take on the Hamilton Bulldogs starting on Friday.
In a bit of bad luck, two Stars prospects will be facing off against each other in the opening round, as Liam Hawel and the Guelph Storm will take on Riley Damiani and the Kitchener Rangers, meaning that one will go home no matter what. The Storm are the favorites, having finished nearly 20 points ahead of the Rangers.
Curtis Douglas and the Windsor Spitfires will be major underdogs in their opening playoff series against the always-dangerous London Knights.
One of only four OHL teams to miss the playoffs this season, unsurprisingly, is the Flint Firebirds. There will be no OHL playoffs for Ty Dellandrea this year — but there could be AHL playoffs in his future. Dellandrea was assigned this morning to the Texas Stars for their ongoing playoff push.
Like in the OHL, the WHL regular season wrapped up over the weekend.
Red Deer Rebels teammates Dawson Barteaux and Brett Davis are going to have their hands full in the upcoming opening round of the playoffs, as they’ll have to face off against the undisputed top team in the league, the powerhouse Prince Albert Raiders. Making matters worse, the Rebels have been nosediving in the standings over the past two months and are currently riding a four-game losing streak.
Not all Canadian major junior playoff match-ups have been set, however. The Kamloops Blazers, after a miraculous late-season run, managed to tie the Kelowna Rockets with an identical record, prompting a tiebreaker game that will be played tonight. Blazers captain Jermaine Loewen has been a force as of late, helping lead the Blazers to this opportunity. For anyone interested, the game will be broadcast live for free on the WHL’s website.
This is quite a story: the Kamloops Blazers have gone 5-0-1 in their past 6 games to catch the Kelowna Rockets and force a tiebreaker game on Tuesday. Winner makes the playoffs.— Derek Neumeier (@Derek_N_NHL) March 17, 2019
Loewen had two goals tonight and has 8 points in his past 5 games to help spur along this Blazers run https://t.co/EDi3sfMBGB
Jake Oettinger and the Boston University Terriers pulled off a 2-1 series win against UMass-Lowell over the weekend. Oettinger recorded a 25-save shutout on Friday before getting lit up for six goals on 25 shots on Saturday, but he managed to seal the deal on Sunday with an 18-save performance. BU advances to the Hockey East semifinal, where they will be the heavy underdogs against third-seeded Northeastern, who are let by star netminder Cayden Primeau.
Riley Tufte and the 4th-ranked University of Minnesota Duluth swept the University of Nebraska Omaha in back-to-back games this past weekend to advance to the NCHC Frozen Faceoff for the fourth year in a row. Their next opponent is still to be determined. Tufte had one goal in the two victories.
There will be no more NCAA games for center Rhett Gardner, however. Not just this spring — ever. The University of North Dakota was eliminated over the weekend, bringing an untimely end to the NCAA career of Gardner, a senior. However, he signed his entry level contract with the Stars this morning in time to join Texas for their playoff push.
Update: Defenseman Joe Cecconi has also signed his ELC and will join Texas as well. Dallas also signed another free agent prospect, right wing Josh Melnick, to an ELC.
The Dallas Stars have signed C Rhett Gardner, D Joseph Cecconi and RW Josh Melnick to entry-level contracts.— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 19, 2019
The Stars have also assigned C Ty Dellandrea, Dallas' first round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, to the Texas Stars. https://t.co/FKaql6EDqA
Power winger Albin Eriksson and his fifth place Skelleftea club are the slight underdogs heading into their SHL opening round playoff series against forth ranked Djurgardens, which begins on Saturday.
In an interesting twist, forward Jacob Peterson has joined Frolunda in the SHL after his Allsvenskan team, Bjorkloven, failed to make the postseason. Peterson’s rights have always been held by Frolunda, but they’ve loaned him to play with Bjorkloven for most of the past two seasons. Frolunda also has the rights to defenseman Jakob Stenqvist, but with a deep defense group already they appear, at this time, to not be interested in playing him. Frolunda will be the favorites in their upcoming series against Malmo, which also begins on Saturday.
Center Oskar Back is currently trying to help his BIK Karlskoga team advance from the Allsvenskan up to SHL. It’s a bit of a complicated process. Back himself had an assist in a 2-1 loss on Monday.
It was another tough week for the Texas Stars with their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, winning in overtime on Friday but dropping one-goal games on Wednesday and Sunday.
Denis Gurianov once again led the way offensively for Texas, picking up two goals and a helper. Gavin Bayreuther also chipped in with a goal and an assist, while Tony Calderone scored his fifth of the season and Adam Mascherin added his 20th assist.
Texas has six games left in their regular-season schedule and is currently a hair behind the Rockford IceHogs for the last playoff spot in the Central Division.