Attack’s Nick Suzuki named OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Vegas Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack is the OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week for the week ending October 8 with seven points in two games including three goals and four assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-3.

Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Suzuki recorded a pair of multi-point performances last week helping the Attack earn three of a possible four points.  On Wednesday night he scored two goals plus an assist and was named first star despite a 6-5 shootout loss to the Sarnia Sting, then scored once with three assists on Saturday as second star of a 9-2 win over the Windsor Spitfires.  Suzuki now has 10 points in five games as the Attack remain the league’s only team without a regulation loss carrying a record of 3-0-0-2 heading into a Thanksgiving Monday matchup against the Kitchener Rangers.

An 18-year-old from London, Ont., Suzuki is playing in his third OHL season with the Attack who chose him 14th overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  In 2016-17 he finished fifth in league scoring with 45 goals and 51 assists for 96 points in 65 games helping Owen Sound to their best season in franchise history with 49 wins and 102 points.  He was voted the OHL’s Most Sportsmanlike Player of the Year and was later recognized at the national level earning CHL Sportsman of the Year honours.  Suzuki was selected 13th overall by Vegas in the 2017 NHL Draft.

Watch video highlights of Suzuki and the Attack against the Sting and the Spitfires.

Also considered for the award this week was Calgary Flames prospect Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting with four goals and one assist for five points in two games, and 2018 NHL Draft top prospect Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts with five goals in three games.  In goal, Edmonton Oilers prospect Dylan Wells of the Peterborough Petes posted a 1-0-0-1 record with 84 saves for a goals-against-average of 1.92 and save percentage of .955.

2017-18 OHL ‘On the Run’ Players of the Week:

Oct. 2 – Oct. 8: Nick Suzuki (Owen Sound Attack)

Sept. 25 – Oct. 1: Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes)

Sept. 21 – Sept. 24: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)

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Storm’s Ryan Merkley named OHL Rookie of the Year

OHL Announces First and Second All-Rookie Teams

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that defenceman Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm is the 2016-17 recipient of the Emms Family Award presented to the OHL’s Rookie of the Year.

Merkley led all OHL rookies with 55 points in 62 games played scoring 12 goals and 43 assists positioning him eighth overall among all OHL defenders.  He became the first rookie in franchise history to lead the team in scoring, and is the first OHL defenceman since London’s Rick Corriveau in 1987-88 to lead all rookies in scoring.

Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL  Images.
Ryan Merkley of the Guelph Storm. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

“It is an honour to be selected as the OHL Rookie of the Year,” said Merkley. “Knowing that there are so many talented first year players, makes the award extra special.  I would like to thank my teammates and the Storm organization for all their help and support.”

The 16-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., selected first overall by the Storm in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, is just the second member of the organization to earn the award following fellow Storm first overall pick Jeff O’Neill during the 1992-93 season.  Merkley’s 55 points are the most by a Storm 16-year-old since O’Neill’s 79 during his first campaign.

“Being selected as OHL Rookie of the Year is a special honour, but one that Ryan richly deserves,” said Mike Kelly, Guelph’s departing General Manager. “Even as a 16-year-old, Ryan was a critical part of a very young Guelph Storm Hockey team, and he provided our fans, and fans throughout the OHL with some spectacular hockey memories.  As good as Ryan was this past year, he will be even more special in upcoming seasons.”

Merkley joined the OHL after earning GTHL Player of the Year honours with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens and made an immediate impact with recognition as the OHL’s Rookie of the Month for October and December and represented Team Canada Red at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Sault Ste. Marie.  He recorded 16 multi-point performances during 2016-17 and was voted third in both the Best Playmaker and Best Stickhandler categories in the Western Conference Coaches Poll.

First presented in 1973, Emms Family Award recipients include Wayne Gretzky (Sault Ste. Marie 1977-78), Joe Thornton (Sault Ste. Marie 1995-96), Rick Nash (London 2000-01), Taylor Hall (Windsor 2007-08), and most recently Alex DeBrincat (Erie 2014-15), and Alex Nylander (Mississauga 2015-16).  Merkley is the eighth player to earn the Emms Family Award after also earning the Jack Ferguson Award as the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection beginning with O’Neill, Patrick O’Sullivan (Mississauga 2001-02), Rob Schremp (Mississauga 2002-03), John Tavares (Oshawa 2005-06), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2011-12), Connor McDavid (Erie 2012-13), and Travis Konecny (Ottawa 2013-14).

The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton “Hap” Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls, and St. Catharines OHL franchises.  The award is selected by all 20 member club General Managers.  Teams were asked to submit only one nominee from their own club for consideration on the ballot and were not permitted to vote for the player from their own hockey club.  Players received five points for a first vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.

Merkley earned 75 of a possible 95 voting points ahead of forward Akil Thomas of the Niagara IceDogs who finished second with 44 voting points and forward Allan McShane of the Oshawa Generals who finished in third with 24 voting points. 

The Emms Family Award will be formally presented to Merkley at the OHL’s annual Awards Ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto on Thursday June 8.  He will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Rookie of the Year to be announced at the Mastercard Memorial Cup on Saturday May 27.

Merkley was also announced to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team alongside NHL Draft prospect Eemeli Rasanen of the Kingston Frontenacs on defence, and goaltender Jacob Ingham of the Mississauga Steelheads.  First team forwards include McShane at centre, Thomas at right wing, and Kingston’s Linus Nyman at left wing.  Second team honours went to NHL Draft prospects Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting, Alex Formenton of the London Knights, and Greg Meireles of the Kitchener Rangers at forward, while 16-year-olds Giovanni Vallati of Kitchener, and Owen Lalonde of the Sudbury Wolves comprise the defence.  Second team goaltending honours went to Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

The OHL All-Rookie Teams were also selected by the OHL’s General Managers.  Players were voted on initially by position within their conference receiving five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote, and one for a third.  Top vote getters in each position made up the final ballot that was then circulated to all 20 teams. 

2016-17 OHL All-Rookie Teams (voting points in brackets):

First Team:
Centre – Allan McShane, Oshawa Generals (85)
Left Wing – Linus Nyman, Kingston Frontenacs (73)
Right Wing – Akil Thomas, Niagara IceDogs (93)
Defence – Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm (91)
Defence – Eemeli Rasanen, Kingston Frontenacs (74)
Goaltender – Jacob Ingham, Mississauga Steelheads (73)

Second Team:
Centre – Adam Ruzicka, Sarnia Sting (51)
Left Wing – Alex Formenton, London Knights (38)
Right Wing – Greg Meireles, Kitchener Rangers (39)
Defence – Giovanni Vallati, Kitchener Rangers (44)
Defence – Owen Lalonde, Sudbury Wolves (39)
Goaltender – Matthew Villalta, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (70)

Adam Ruzicka – Sarnia Sting – Player Profile

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 202 pounds

Date of birth: May 11, 1999

Hometown: Bratislava, Slovakia

Position: Center/Left Wing/Right Wing

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 2, 107th overall, 2016 CHL Import Draft

Versatile Slovakian and Sarnia Sting forward, who can play all three forward positions, Adam Ruzicka played in the Czech Republic a season ago for HC Pardubice in both the Under-18 and Under-20 leagues. Two seasons ago he competed in the Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20. Last season in the Under-20, he was a point-per-game player on 14 goals and 16 assists in 30 games while also putting up 39 penalty minutes.

Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

Ruzicka also has a wealth of international experience having represented his native Slovakia at the Under-16, the World Hockey Challenge Under-17, World Junior Championship Under-18, World Junior Championship Under-20 and two Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournaments. In total, he has 34 international games under his belt, scoring 18 goals and 16 assists.

It wasn’t a smooth and easy transition into the Ontario Hockey League for Ruzicka with 2 goals and 5 assists (3 of those coming on opening night versus the London Knights) in his first 14 games. But in the 46 games since, he has 23 goals and 15 assists.

The big bodied Ruzicka’s – he already has an NHL frame – number one issue is finding consistency in producing. He scores in bunches, having gone twice without a goal in 7 consecutive games. Scoring in bunches is what most goal scorers do, but prolonged scoring droughts can be a concern for a player known as a goal scorer.

Complimenting his size is the strength he also possesses. Combined, he’s hard to knock off the puck and allows him to keep possession. He needs to become more proficient at using those strengths along the walls. He’s also a very good skater with very good puck handling skills who can take the disc to scoring areas and release a very good shot.

Ruzicka has very good vision and hockey smarts. Earlier in the season he was prone to making some ill-advised decisions but part of that can be attributed to becoming more accustomed to the smaller ice surface. As the season moved along, he has shown some very good improvement in limiting those bad decisions.

Ruzicka was ranked 29th among North American skaters on NHL Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings in January.

Adam Ruzicka

This is the profile page of Adam Ruzicka at Elite Prospects

 

OHL Announces Top Performers of the Month for February

Toronto, ON –  The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for regular season games played in February 2017, including Erie Otters teammates Alex DeBrincat and Darren Raddysh, Sarnia Sting forward Adam Ruzicka and Owen Sound Attack goaltender Michael McNiven.

OHL Player of the Month – Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters):
For the second time this season, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat has been named OHL Player of the Month. DeBrincat led all players with 32 points including 17 goals and 15 assists with a plus/minus rating of plus-10 in 12 games to help the Otters set a new franchise record with 14 consecutive wins. Now in the midst of an 18-game point streak and 14-game goal scoring streak, DeBrincat had eight different multi-point outings in the month of February, highlighted by a stretch of 13 points in three games from Feb. 4th to 11th. DeBrincat had two goals and three assists in an 8-4 road win over Ottawa on Feb. 4th. He followed that effort with a four point (2-2–4) night in a 6-1 win in Kingston the next day. The Otters returned home on Feb. 11th to defeat the Saginaw Spirit 9-4 as DeBrincat registered a goal and three assists. In total, DeBrincat has received star of the game recognition nine different times, including three first star designations. His month of February included several Otters franchise milestones and career accomplishments including becoming the club’s all-time leading goal-scorer, reaching the 300-career point mark, recording his third consecutive 100-point campaign, becoming the second player in league history to register three-straight 50-goal seasons and passing Rob Schremp as the leading American goal-scorer in OHL history.

Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

A 19-year-old native of Farmington Hills, Mich., DeBrincat currently leads the OHL in scoring with 113 points including 55 goals and 58 assists in 54 games, helping steer the Otters into first place in the Western Conference. He is a three-time Pioneer Energy OHL Player of the Week recipient and a two-time CHL Player of the Week during the 2016-17 season. A former CHL and OHL Rookie of the Year in 2015, DeBrincat was Chicago’s second round (39th overall) pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

OHL Defenceman of the Month – Darren Raddysh (Erie Otters):
Veteran Erie Otters rearguard Darren Raddysh is the OHL Defenceman of the Month for the second time this season. Raddysh led OHL defencemen with 17 points including three goals and 14 assists with a plus/minus rating of plus-14 in 12 games. He had points in 10 of his 12 February contests, highlighted by a plus-4 outing in a commanding 5-1 win over the London Knights on Feb. 15th that included a goal and an assist. Raddysh recorded three points (1-2–3) on Feb. 25th as the Otters defeated the Barrie Colts 7-3 on the road. After becoming the Otters’ franchise leader in career points by a defenceman last month, Raddysh surpassed Chris Campoli’s single-season mark of 66 points on Feb. 27th with a pair of assists in a 4-2 loss to the Owen Sound Attack.

A 21-year-old native of Caledon, Ont., Raddysh leads OHL defencemen in points by a 10-point margin, recording 68 points including 16 goals and 52 assists in 53 games with the league’s second best plus/minus rating of plus-59. The fifth-year rearguard recently passed Shawn Szydlowski (2007-11) for fourth on the Otters’ all-time games played list. Though undrafted, Raddysh attended training camp with the San Jose Sharks this past September.

OHL Rookie of the Month – Adam Ruzicka (Sarnia Sting):
2017 NHL Draft prospect Adam Ruzicka of the Sarnia Sting is the OHL Rookie of the Month for February. Ruzicka elevated his game, leading all rookies with 12 points including nine goals and three assists in 12 games to help the Sting in their quest for a Western Conference playoff berth. The Slovakian forward’s month was highlighted by a trio of two-goal performances beginning on Feb. 2nd in North Bay as the Sting fell 7-4 to the Battalion. Ruzicka again scored twice on Feb. 15th against Guelph, earning first star honours as the Sting took a 6-2 win. His latest two-goal showing came in a key 6-3 road win over the Flint Firebirds on Feb. 25th where he again received first star recognition.

A 17-year-old native of Bratislava, Slovakia, Ruzicka sits second in OHL rookie scoring with 41 points including 23 goals and 18 assists in 54 games this season. He represented Team Cherry at the 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Quebec City and is ranked 27th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scoutings’ Midterm Draft Rankings. Ruzicka represented Slovakia at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship and was Sarnia’s first round (14th overall) pick in the 2016 CHL Import Draft.

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 Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month – Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack):
Montreal Canadiens prospect Michael McNiven of the Owen Sound Attack is the OHL Goaltender of the Month for February. McNiven’s outstanding month featured an 8-2-0-1 record with a 1.72 goals-against average, a .936 save percentage and three shutouts over 11 games to help the Attack climb the standings in the Midwest Division. McNiven’s three shutouts placed him ahead of Jordan Binnington on the Attack’s franchise leaderboard, giving him 11 on his OHL career. The first two came in back-t0-back games, beginning with a 26-save effort in a 5-0 road win over the Kingston Frontenacs on Feb. 12th. McNiven then made 16 saves in a 4-0 blanking of the visiting Flint Firebirds on Feb. 15th. His latest shutout came on Feb. 23rd, making 23 saves in a 5-0 road triumph over the division rival Kitchener Rangers. McNiven’s 31-save effort in a 7-3 victory over the London Knights on Feb. 26th was his 33rd win of the season, a new Attack single-season mark for a goaltender

A 19-year-old native of Georgetown, Ont., McNiven leads OHL goaltenders with a 2.13 goals-against average and 34 wins this season. He also features a .921 save percentage and is tied for the league lead in shutouts with six. The third year veteran is currently second behind Binnington on the Attack’s franchise wins list with 70 in his OHL career. McNiven was signed as a free agent by the Montreal Canadiens in September 2015.

2016-17 OHL Performers of the Month:

Player of the Month:
February – Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)
January – Adam Mascherin (Kitchener Rangers)
December – Zach Gallant (Peterborough Petes)
November – Alex DeBrincat/Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)
October – Taylor Raddysh (Erie Otters)

Defenceman of the Month:
February – Darren Raddysh (Erie Otters)
January – Santino Centorame (Owen Sound Attack)
December – Stephen Desrocher (Kingston Frontenacs)
November – Darren Raddysh (Erie Otters)
October – Mathieu Henderson (Flint Firebirds)

Rookie of the Month:
February – Adam Ruzicka (Sarnia Sting)
January – Allan McShane (Oshawa Generals)
December – Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm)
November – Linus Nyman (Kingston Frontenacs)
October – Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm)

Vaughn Goaltender of the Month:
February – Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack)
January – Jacob Ingham (Mississauga Steelheads)
December – Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires
November – Tyler Parsons (London Knights)
October – Troy Timpano (Erie Otters)