OHL Announces Academic Player of the Year Award Winners for 2017-18

Greyhounds’ Barrett Hayton, Steelheads’ Stephen Gibson, Attack’s Mack Guzda earn Academic Honours

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Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the recipients of the league’s three Academic Player of the Year awards for the 2017-18 season.

Barrett Hayton of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the recipient of the Bobby Smith Trophy as Scholastic Player of the Year, with Stephen Gibson of the Mississauga Steelheads earning the Roger Neilson Memorial Award as the Top Post-Secondary School Student, and Mack Guzda of the Owen Sound Attack named the Ivan Tennant Memorial Award recipient for Top High School Student.

All three players will be formally presented with their awards at the annual OHL Awards Ceremony on Wednesday June 6.  Hayton will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Scholastic Player of the Year which will be announced on Saturday May 26 as part of the events at the 2018 Mastercard Memorial Cup in Regina.

Bobby Smith Trophy (OHL Scholastic Player of the Year) – Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds:

Barrett Hayton earns OHL Scholastic Player of the Year honours for his achievements as a Grade 12 student at Superior Heights combined with his on-ice excellence for the Greyhounds.  This season he obtained an overall average of 87% studying University level courses in Math – Advanced Functions, Math – Data Management, Biology, Chemistry, English, and Recreation & Healthy Active Living Leadership, while producing 60 points in 63 regular season games.

“It is an incredible honour to win this award,” said Hayton. “It would not have been possible without the support of the Soo Greyhounds organization and Superior Heights School. I take pride both on and off the ice to develop not only as a player but also as a person.”

The 17-year-old from Peterborough, Ont., scored 21 goals and 39 assists this season contributing to a banner season in Sault Ste. Marie where the club finished atop the OHL’s regular season standings with a record 55 wins and 116 points.  The first round pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection won gold with Canada at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup and is now a projected first round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and was listed ninth among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings.

“We wish to congratulate Barrett on being awarded the Bobby Smith Trophy,” said Greyhounds General Manager Kyle Raftis. “As an organization, we couldn’t be more proud of Barrett. He embodies all of the qualities you wish for in a Greyhound. Known for his dedicated and disciplined personality, Barrett’s academic work ethic is synonymous with his devotion to the game. Barrett demonstrates that you can have tremendous success on the ice, and still maximize your academic potential.”

Each year the Bobby Smith Trophy is presented to the OHL Scholastic Player of the year who best combines high standards of play and academic excellence.  The trophy is in honour of Bobby Smith, a former Ottawa 67’s star who exhibited a standard of excellence in both of these areas.  First presented in 1980, Hayton is the third member of the Greyhounds to receive the award following Darnell Nurse (2013) and Jake McCracken (1997).  Past recipients include three-time winner Dustin Brown (Guelph 2001-03), Steven Stamkos (Sarnia 2007), Matt Duchene (Brampton 2009), Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2011), back-to-back winner Connor McDavid (Erie 2014-15), Nicolas Hague (Mississauga 2016), and Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 2017).

Runner-up for the award this season was fellow 2018 NHL Draft prospect Ty Dellandrea of the Flint Firebirds, with finalists that include top prospects Kevin Bahl of the Ottawa 67’s and Aidan Dudas of the Owen Sound Attack.

Roger Neilson Memorial Award (Top Post-Secondary Student) – Stephen Gibson, Mississauga Steelheads:

Stephen Gibson earns his second straight academic honour for his post-secondary studies at Ryerson University excelling once again in his Business courses that include Business Information Systems, Business Law, Business Statistics, Intro to Global Management, Intro to Professional Communication, and Public Relations Principles.  This also marks the third straight season the award has been earned by a Steelheads player with Damian Bourne receiving the honour in 2016.

“I am very honoured to once again be the recipient of the Roger Neilson Memorial Award,” said Gibson. “I would like to thank Elliott Kerr, James Richmond, and the entire Mississauga Steelheads organization for allowing me to pursue my hockey goals while supporting my academic endeavours. I would also like to thank the Ontario Hockey League for creating an environment that allows players to further their education while they are playing in the league. The OHL is the best developmental hockey league in the world, while providing players every resource needed to be successful off the ice.”

The 21-year-old from Kitchener, Ont., finished his five-year OHL tenure with the Steelheads as the club’s leader in career games played with 263 after being chosen in the seventh round of the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.  The overage defenceman recorded one goal and nine assists for 10 points playing in all 68 regular season games in 2017-18.

“Our Steelheads family are very proud of Stephen and this prestigious accomplishment,” said Steelheads General Manager and Head Coach James Richmond. “He is a super person both on and off the ice and we’re happy that he is once again being recognized for his dedication to not only his athletic performance but also for his academic achievements. Congratulations Stephen and we wish you continued success!”

The Roger Neilson Memorial Award is named in honour of the Hall of Fame Coach who served behind the Peterborough Petes bench in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Neilson, a former high school teacher, was a pioneer in stressing the importance of education to all of his players.  First presented in 2005, fellow two-time winners include Danny Battochio (Ottawa 2005-06) and Derek Lanoue (Windsor 2010-11).

Finalists for the award include William Sirman of the Windsor Spitfires and Jonathan Yantsis of the Kitchener Rangers.

Ivan Tennant Memorial Award (Top Academic High School Student) – Mack Guzda, Owen Sound Attack:

Owen Sound rookie goaltender Mack Guzda achieved a 94% average during the 2017-18 academic season studying Algebra, Chemistry, English, Law and Order, Sport Marketing, and U.S. History through online programs with the K12 International Academy.

“It is a great honour to be the recipient of this year’s Ivan Tennant Award,” said Guzda. “I’m extremely thankful for our education consultant, coaches, management, and for the ownership group that supply any extra help we might need to grow academically. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to excel in the classroom while competing in the Ontario Hockey League.”

The 17-year-old from Knoxville, Tennessee, played 30 games between-the-pipes for the Attack this season after being chosen by the club in the second round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection.  Named to the First All-Rookie Team, Guzda carried an overall record of 14-6-2-2 with one shutout along with a goals-against-average of 3.20 and save percentage of .879.  His 14 victories set a new Attack mark for 16-year-old netminders.

“Mack’s worth ethic in the classroom this year was second to none and we couldn’t be prouder that he’s being honoured for his academic excellence,” said Attack General Manager Dale DeGray. “The Attack have always placed a premium on education, and this is a testament to Mack, our education consultant Sarah Rowe, and the fantastic team of tutors that we have to help our players become well rounded student athletes.”

The Ivan Tennant Memorial Award is given to the Top Academic High School Player and is named in honour of Ivan Tennant, who spent a lifetime combining hockey and education.  He was the Kitchener Rangers’ Education Consultant for 20 years and a key figure on the OHL’s Education Consultant’s Committee.  First presented in 2005, Guzda is the second member of the Attack to receive the award following Andrew Shorkey in 2007.  Past recipients also include brothers Matt and Adam Pelech (Sarnia 2005 and Erie 2012), Freddie and Dougie Hamilton (Niagara 2009 and 2010), and recent winners Stephen Dhillon (Niagara 2015), Kyle Keyser (Flint 2016), and Quinn Hanna (Guelph 2017).

Finalists for the award include Billy Moskal of the London Knights and Isaac Walker of the Mississauga Steelheads.

All 20 of the OHL’s member clubs provide nominees for each award with the Bobby Smith Trophy nominees representing the 2017-18 OHL Scholastic Team:

2017-18 OHL Scholastic Team:
Barrie Colts – Nathan Allensen
Erie Otters – Maxim Golod
Flint Firebirds – Ty Dellandrea*
Guelph Storm – Owen Lalonde*
Hamilton Bulldogs – Jake Murray
Kingston Frontenacs – Ted Nichol
Kitchener Rangers – Riley Damiani*
London Knights – Billy Moskal
Mississauga Steelheads – Jacob Ingham
Niagara IceDogs – Ben Jones*
North Bay Battalion – Travis Mailhot
Oshawa Generals – Allan McShane
Ottawa 67’s – Kevin Bahl
Owen Sound Attack – Aidan Dudas
Peterborough Petes – Zach Gallant**
Saginaw Spirit – Damien Giroux*
Sarnia Sting – Colton Kammerer
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds – Barrett Hayton
Sudbury Wolves – Peter Stratis
Windsor Spitfires – Curtis Douglas

*member of 2016-17 OHL Scholastic Team
**member of 2015-16 OHL Scholastic Team


Billy Moskal – London Knights – Player Profile

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 185 pounds

Date of birth: March 22, 2000

Hometown: Sudbury, Ontario

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

OHL Draft: Round 2, 40th overall, 2016 Priority Selection

NHL Central Scouting pre-season: C Prospect

NHL Central Scouting mid-term: 130th North American Skaters

NHL Central Scouting final rank: Not available at present

A native of Sudbury Ontario, London Knights’ pivot Billy Moskal played his minor midget hockey with the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget squad during the 2015-2016 season where he scored 18 goals and added 18 assists in 23 games.

Moskal has never been a stranger when it comes to putting up points. A year earlier, while playing Bantam AAA for the Sudbury Wolves, he scored 24 goals and 22 assists in 37 games. But it was during the playoffs where he stepped it up. In just 6 games, Moskal compiled 6 goals and 11 assists.

The Knights would select Moskal with their second-round pick at the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection. He would be selected 40th overall.

Billy Moskal of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Billy Moskal of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

At the time of his draft, OHL Central Scouting had this scouting report:

Billy is one of the hardest working and hardest to play against players in this year’s draft. He brings everything he has each and every shift he is on the ice. His skating lets him create offense and allows him to get in the face of the opponent. He always finds a way to create offense for himself and his teammates. His compete level is very high, and he wins the majority of his battles for pucks. He is the kind of player that every coach loves to have on his team. 

Last season, Moskal split time with the Knights and the St Marys Lincolns of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. He would register 2 assists in 13 games with the Knights. With the Lincolns, Moskal would score 23 goals and 29 assists in 41 games and add 7 assists in 5 playoff games.

The list of personal and team achievements is impressive:


NOMBHL Champion


  • Big Nickel International Tournament Bantam AAA All-Star Team
  • Big Nickel International Tournament Bantam AAA Champion
  • Big Nickel International Tournament Bantam AAA MVP


GNHL Champion


GOJHL Rookie of the Year (Western Conference)

Moskal has some impressive leadership qualities. He’s captained squads prior to the OHL while also being an Alternate Captain. It should come to no one’s surprise if Dale Hunter and his staff were to place a letter on his jersey for next season. As Central Scouting said prior to his draft, he is one of the hardest workers and hardest players to play against, and teammates just want to follow his lead.

Moskal’s size is okay. He is a very good skater with some very good speed. He get’s in on the forecheck quickly and isn’t afraid to get dirty and creates turnovers by doing so. He possesses silky-smooth hands and very good at keeping possession. He is shifty and can create scoring chances for himself or use those silky mitts to create chances for his teammates.

Moskal is a very intelligent player who understands the game at both ends. Coach Hunter wasn’t afraid to use Moskal in any situation, be it the penalty kill, powerplay, taking key faceoffs, or protecting the lead late in the game. He looks like a player who relishes the defensive responsibilities. He skates hard on the back-check, is positionally strong in his own zone, understands how to close off passing and shooting lanes and uses his body and stick effectively.

Moskal finished the regular season with 7 goals and 19 assists in 66 games for the Knights. He won 452 of 798 faceoffs for 56.6% – tops among draft eligible players in the OHL.

If I were to make an honest projection on Moskal, I can see him top out as a third line two-way pivot who is strong defensively and can provide some offence. Or he could play a fourth line energy guy who is skilled at killing penalties and be a top faceoff guy.

Stat Page of Billy Moskal from Elite Prospects


OHL Academic Players of the Month for October

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the OHL Academic Players of the Month for October 2017, including Kevin Bahl of the Ottawa 67’s, Blake McConville of the Sudbury Wolves, Billy Moskal of the London Knights, and Brett Jacklin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

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East Division: 
Sophomore defenceman Kevin Bahl of the Ottawa 67’s is the OHL East Division Academic Player of the Month for October. The 17-year-old from Mississauga, Ont. carries an 86% average in his grade 12 University level coursework in English, World History, and Elite Athletics. “Kevin has had to work hard to balance his course load, on-ice commitments and physical training this season,” said 67’s Academic Advisor Eileen Duffin. A 6-foot-6, 231Ib. defenceman eligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, Bahl has recorded eight assists through his first 17 games of the season and was recently named to Team OHL’s roster for the upcoming 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series. Bahl helped Canada win gold at the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament this past summer. He was Ottawa’s second round pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.

Central Division: 
Rookie forward Blake McConville of the Sudbury Wolves is the OHL Central Division Academic Player of the Month for October after he maintained an 87% average over grade 12 University level Chemistry, Advanced Functions, Data Management and Online Sports Management courses. The 6-foot-2, 205Ib. right-winger has played in 11 games this season. “As a 17-year-old rookie, Blake is a respected player and student,” said Wolves Academic Advisor Gord Ewin. “He is a very positive and polite young man.” The LaSalle, Ont. native was a fifth round pick of the Wolves in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.

Midwest Division: 
Seventeen year-old London Knights forward Billy Moskal has been named the OHL Midwest Division Academic Player of the Month for October, maintaining a 97% average in his University level courses at Blyth Academy London. “Billy exemplifies the OHL policy of providing ‘the best of both worlds’ with regards to academics and hockey,” said Knights Academic Advisor Trish Hurley. “He has participated in a number of school activities in the past year, including a fundraiser for Youth Mental Health.” Moskal has a goal and an assist through 13 games this season and recently scored his first career OHL goal on Oct. 27 against Flint. The 6-foot, 185Ib. centreman from Sudbury, Ont. was London’s second round pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.

West Division: 
Rookie forward Brett Jacklin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL West Division Academic Player of the Month for October after he maintained an 88% average over University level Math Advanced Functions, Accounting and Chemistry courses at Superior Heights Secondary School. The Sudbury, Ont. native has two assists through his first 10 games of the season. “Brett is extremely well liked by his teachers and fellow students,” said Greyhounds Academic Advisor Jerry Bumbacco. “He is a mature young man who recognizes the importance of an education and works diligently on achieving success in the classroom as well as on the ice.” The 6-foot-1, 171Ib. right-winger was Sault Ste. Marie’s 10th round pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection.

2017-18 OHL Academic Players of the Month:

East Division:

October – Kevin Bahl (Ottawa 67’s)

Central Division:
October – Blake McConville (Sudbury Wolves)

Midwest Division:
October – Billy Moskal (London Knights)

West Division:
October – Brett Jacklin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Last season, the OHL Centrally Administered Scholarship Program facilitated scholarships for 301 OHL Alumni with a total scholarship payment in excess of $3.17 million.  Since the 2007-08 season, OHL Scholarship payments have totaled more than $18.8 million. 

Click here for more information about ‘OHL Players First’ programs.