CHL Announces Weekly Award Winners

Tippett and Harvey start 2018 with national honours 

Steelheads’ Owen Tippett named CHL Player of the Week 

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Florida Panthers prospect Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads is the CHL Player of the Week for the week ending January 7 recording 10 points in three games including seven goals with three assists and a plus-minus rating of plus-3. 

Tippett’s three multi-point performances last week earned him a trio of first star honours and led the Steelheads to three straight wins to open 2018.  On Wednesday night he scored twice with one assist in a 5-3 road win over the Erie Otters, then recorded a first period natural hat-trick on Thursday against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds before scoring the shootout winner in the 4-3 triumph stopping the CHL’s top ranked team from earning their 24th straight win.  Tippett finished the week with a season-high four points including two goals and two assists as part of a 6-2 win over the nation’s seventh ranked Kitchener Rangers.  Tippett has now delivered seven straight multi-point efforts totalling 20 points since December 17 as the Trout continue to climb the OHL’s Eastern Conference standings with a 17-22-0-1 record.  

An 18-year-old from Peterborough, Ont., Tippett is playing in his third season with the Steelheads who chose him fourth overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  The tenth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft has 17 goals and 19 assists for 36 points in 23 OHL games since November 10 after starting the season in Florida where he played his first seven career NHL games. 

Also considered for the award this week was overage forward Matteo Gennaro of the Swift Current Broncos with seven goals and three assists for 10 points in five games, and 2019 NHL Draft prospect Raphael Lavoie of the Halifax Mooseheads with four goals and four assists for eight points in three games. 

2017-18 CHL Players of the Week:

Jan. 1 – Jan. 7: Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)
Dec. 25 – Dec. 31: Ivan Kosorenkov (Victoriaville Tigres)
Dec. 11 – Dec. 17: Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Dec. 4 – Dec. 10: Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Nov. 27 – Dec. 3: Alex Barr
é-Boulet (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada)
Nov. 20 – Nov. 26: Cody Glass (Portland Winterhawks)
Nov. 13 – Nov. 19: Cliff Pu (London Knights)
Nov. 6 – Nov. 12: Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current Broncos)
Oct. 30 – Nov. 5: Albert Michnac (Mississauga Steelheads)
Oct. 23 – Oct. 29: Aaron Luchuk (Windsor Spitfires)
Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: Drake Batherson (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles)
Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: Tyler Soy (Victoria Royals)
Oct. 2 – Oct. 8: Kale Clague (Brandon Wheat Kings)
Sept. 25 – Oct. 1: Tyler Steenbergen (Swift Current Broncos)
Sept. 21 – Sept. 24: Kole Lind (Kelowna Rockets)

Huskies’ Samuel Harvey named Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week 

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Samuel Harvey of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending January 7 after posting a 2-0-0-1 record including one shutout with a goals-against-average of 0.65 and save percentage of .979. 

Harvey stopped 92 of 94 shots faced last week helping the Huskies ring in the new year with five of a possible six points to keep pace in the QMJHL standings carrying an overall record of 24-10-4-3 and just two points shy of first place.  On Thursday he recorded his third shutout of the season and tenth of his career with 26 saves as first star of a 3-0 road win against the Victoriaville Tigres.  Harvey and the Huskies finished the week at home with a 3-1 victory over the Gatineau Olympiques on Saturday and a 2-1 shootout loss to the Drummondville Voltigeurs on Sunday with the netminder producing 24 and 42 save performances respectively and earning second star honours in both games. 

A 19-year-old from Alma, Quebec, Harvey is now a two-time recipient of the CHL’s weekly award this season.  The fourth year goaltender has been a member of the Huskies since being chosen by the club in the second round of the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft and has appeared in 141 games in that time.  This season he leads the QMJHL with a goals-against-average of 2.13 and save percentage of .930 and holds a 21-5-3-2 personal record. 

Also considered for the award this week was Los Angeles Kings prospect Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds who posted a 2-0-0-1 record making 73 saves for a goals-against-average of 1.80 and save percentage of .936, and Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades who posted a 3-0-0-0 record with 69 saves for a goals-against-average of 2.00 and save percentage of .920. 

2017-18 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week:

Jan. 1 – Jan. 7: Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)
Dec. 25 – Dec. 31: James Porter (Kelowna Rockets)
Dec. 11 – Dec. 17: Tristan
Bérubé (Gatineau Olympiques)
Dec. 4 – Dec. 10: Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)
Nov. 27 – Dec. 3: Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)
Nov. 20 – Nov. 26: Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)
Nov. 13 – Nov. 19: Anthony Morrone (Victoriaville Tigres)
Nov. 6 – Nov. 12: Justin Fazio (Sarnia Sting)
Oct. 30 – Nov. 5: Cole Kehler (Portland Winterhawks)
Oct. 23 – Oct. 29: Dustin Wolf (Everett Silvertips)
Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranada Huskies)
Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: Logan Flodell (Swift Current Broncos)
Oct. 2 – Oct. 8: Cole Kehler (Portland Winterhawks)
Sept. 25 – Oct. 1: Dereck Baribeau (Quebec Remparts)
Sept. 21 – Sept. 24: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)

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Steelheads’ Owen Tippett named OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Florida Panthers prospect Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads is the OHL ‘On the Run’ Player of the Week for the week ending January 7 with seven goals and three assists for 10 points in three games with a plus-minus rating of plus-3. 

Tippett welcomed 2018 with three multi-point performances leading the Steelheads to three straight victories to start the new year improving their Central Division record to 17-22-0-1.  He earned first star honours in all three games last week beginning Wednesday night with two goals and one assist in a 5-3 road win over the Erie Otters.  Back at home Thursday facing top ranked Sault Ste. Marie, Tippett scored a natural hat-trick in the first period, the first of his career, then tallied a shootout marker to secure a 4-3 win snapping the Greyhounds 23-game win-streak.  His week wrapped up Friday in Kitchener scoring two goals and two assists for his first four-point effort of the season to extend his personal point-streak to seven games in a 6-2 triumph over the Rangers. 

Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

An 18-year-old from Peterborough, Ont., Tippett is playing in his third season with the Steelheads who chose him fourth overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  After beginning the season in the NHL with one goal in seven games, Tippett has scored 17 goals with 19 assists for 36 points in 23 OHL games since November 10.  Last season Tippett set a Steelheads record with 44 goals as part of a 75-point campaign and would become the top OHL player chosen in the 2017 NHL Draft going tenth overall to the Panthers. 

Watch video highlights of Tippett and the Steelheads against the Otters and Rangers.

Also considered for the award this week was Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Sam Miletic of the London Knights producing 10 points in four games including four goals and six assists, and Dallas Stars prospect Jason Robertson of the Kingston Frontenacs with nine points in three games including three goals and six assists.  In goal, Los Angeles Kings prospect Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds posted a 2-0-0-1 record making 73 saves for a goals-against-average of 1.80 and save percentage of .936.

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

Jan. 1 – Jan. 7: Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads)
Dec. 25 – Dec. 31: Ben Jones (Niagara IceDogs)
Dec. 11 – Dec. 17: Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Dec. 4 – Dec. 10: Justin Brazeau (North Bay Battalion)
Nov. 27 – Dec. 3: Joseph Garreffa (Kitchener Rangers)
Nov. 20 – Nov. 26: Serron Noel (Oshawa Generals)
Nov. 13 – Nov. 19: Cliff Pu (London Knights)
Nov. 6 – Nov. 12: Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm)
Oct. 30 – Nov. 5: Albert Michnac (Mississauga Steelheads)
Oct. 23 – Oct. 29: Aaron Luchuk (Windsor Spitfires)
Oct. 16 – Oct. 22: Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
Oct. 9 – Oct. 15: Brady Hinz (Sarnia Sting)
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)
 

OHL Top Performers of the Month for December

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for regular season games played in December 2017, including the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds trio of Morgan Frost, Rasmus Sandin and Matthew Villalta along with London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard.

OHL Player of the Month – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):


Philadelphia Flyers prospect Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Player of the Month for December after leading the league with 20 points including eight goals, 12 assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-18 over 10 games. The third-year centreman continued a 14-game point streak through the end of the month, registering multi-point outputs in eight of the 10 games he played. Frost earned first star honours twice this past month, scoring twice on Dec. 13th against Flint before registering four points (2-2–4) on Dec. 16th in Guelph.  His most recent performance featured a goal and an assist against the Guelph Storm on Dec. 30th as the Greyhounds pushed their current winning streak to 23 games.

Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Morgan Frost of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

An 18-year-old native of Aurora, Ont., Frost leads the OHL in scoring with 60 points (21-39–60) over 36 games while also leading all players with a plus-46 plus/minus rating. He has recorded at least one point in 20 games of the Greyhounds’ current 23-game winning streak that dates back to Oct. 28th. The. 6-foot, 180Ib. centreman represented Team OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series earlier this season after being chosen in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers last summer. Frost was Sault Ste. Marie’s fourth round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Barrie Colts Minor Midgets.

OHL Defenceman of the Month – Evan Bouchard (London Knights):


For the second straight month, draft eligible London Knights blueliner Evan Bouchard is the OHL Defenceman of the Month. Bouchard led OHL rearguards with 16 points including five goals and 11 assists over 11 games along with a plus/minus rating of plus-7. The 6-foot-2, 191Ib. defender had points in nine of his 11 games, helping the Knights to a 7-3-0-1 month of December. Bouchard started the month by earning third star honours with a goal and an assist on Dec. 1st against Oshawa. A week later his goal and an assist on Dec. 8th against Peterborough earned him second star recognition. Bouchard earned first star honours on Dec. 12th in Erie, scoring the overtime winner while also recording an assist. He ended 2017 with a three-assist outing on Dec. 31st in Sarnia.

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

An 18-year-old product of Oakville, Ont., Bouchard currently leads OHL defencemen with 46 points including 13 goals and 33 assists along with a plus/minus rating of plus-14 in 37 games. The right-handed shooting blueliner has a total of 19 points on the power play this season. He represented the OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series and has been named to the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game set for Jan. 25th in Guelph. Bouchard was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Bouchard was London’s first round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection from the Oakville Rangers Minor Midgets.

OHL Rookie of the Month – Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):


Draft eligible Swedish blueliner Rasmus Sandin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Rookie of the Month for December. The 17-year-old had nine points including two goals and seven assists in 11 games from the back end this past month, helping the Greyhounds continue a 23-game winning streak. Sandin recorded two assists on Dec. 10th against Windsor before earning first star honours with a career-high three points (2-1–3) on Dec. 29th against Flint, setting up teammate Barrett Hayton for a late game-winning goal.

A 17-year-old native of Uppsala, Sweden, Sandin currently leads OHL rookie defencemen in scoring with 21 points (4-17–21) and a plus-19 rating in 24 games this season. After starting the season with Rogle BK of the Swedish Elite League, Sandin joined the Greyhounds in October and the team has proceeded to win 23 of their 24 games with him in the lineup. He has been named to the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 25th in Guelph and was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Sandin was Sault Ste. Marie’s first round pick in the 2017 CHL Import Draft.

Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):


For the second straight month, Los Angeles Kings prospect Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month. The 18-year-old played to a perfect 7-0-0-0 record with a 2.25 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage this past month, continuing the Hounds’ 23-game winning streak along with a 16-game winning streak of his own. Villalta stopped 25 of 26 shots on Dec. 16th in Guelph before returning from the holiday break to earn second star honours with 30 saves on Dec. 28th against Saginaw. His latest outing included 39 saves and three shootout denials as the Greyhounds won their 23rd straight contest, defeating the Guelph Storm on Dec. 30th.

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A 6-foot-3, 183Ib. native of Godfrey, Ont. outside of Kingston, Villalta leads OHL goaltenders with a 2.45 goals-against average along with a 23-2-1-0 record, a .912 save percentage and one shutout. He holds an impressive career record of 48-5-1-0 over 59 career regular season games to go with a 2.43 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and two shutouts. A free agent addition by the Greyhounds out of Training Camp in 2016, Villalta was a third round pick by the Los Angeles Kings this past summer.

2017-18 OHL Performers of the Month:

Player of the Month:
December – Morgan Frost (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
October – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Defenceman of the Month:

December – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
November – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
October – Sean Durzi (Owen Sound Attack)

Rookie of the Month:
December – Rasmus Sandin (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Blade Jenkins (Saginaw Spirit)
October – Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)

Vaughn Goaltender of the Month:
December – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
November – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
October – Justin Fazio (Sarnia Sting)

OHL Top Performers of the Month for November

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for regular season games played in November 2017, including Sarnia Sting forward Jordan Kyrou, London Knights defenceman Evan Bouchard, Saginaw Spirit rookie Blade Jenkins and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds goaltender Matthew Villalta. 

OHL Player of the Month – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

For the second consecutive month, St. Louis Blues prospect Jordan Kyrou of the Sarnia Sting is the OHL Player of the Month. The 19-year-old led all players with 24 points including six goals, 18 assists in 11 games. Kyrou’s November included points in 10 of his 11 games headlined by a six point effort to start the month on Nov. 2nd in Peterborough. Kyrou’s six points (2-4–6) are the most by a Sting player in a single game since Charles Sarault registered six in February 2013. Other prominent performances included a four point output (1-3–4) on Nov. 17th against Windsor. In total, Kyrou received star of the game recognition four times including one first star nomination, two second star nominations as well as one third star nomination. His continued excellence has helped the Sting hold down top spot in the weekly CHL Top 10 Rankings throughout the month as Sarnia holds an overall record of 21-4-1-0. 

Jordan Kyrou of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Jordan Kyrou of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A 6-foot, 185Ib. right-winger from Toronto, Ont., Kyrou currently leads OHL scoring by a 10-point margin, registering 52 points including a league-leading 34 assists along with 18 goals in 24 games. His 2.17 points-per-game and 21 power play points are also league highs. The second round pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 2016 NHL Draft is currently in his fourth OHL season, producing a career regular season stat line of 78 goals, 155 assists and 233 points over 218 games. Last season, Kyrou recorded the OHL’s longest point streak since 2008 when he recorded points in 30 straight contests from Jan. 1st to Mar. 12th, four games shy of a Sting club record. He attended Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase this past summer in Plymouth, Mich. and represented the OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series. 

OHL Defenceman of the Month – Evan Bouchard (London Knights):

Draft eligible London Knights rearguard Evan Bouchard is the OHL Defenceman of the Month for November. The 18-year-old third-year blueliner led all defencemen with 18 points including five goals, 13 assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-11 over 10 contests. Bouchard recorded points in eight of his 10 November outings, headlining the month with a career-high four point (1-3–4) showing on Nov. 3rd against Saginaw. He also registered a pair of three point efforts, collecting three assists on Nov. 10th against Flint as well as a goal and two assists on Nov. 26th in Guelph. Bouchard helped the Knights play to a record of 7-2-1-0 in November. 

Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Evan Bouchard of the London Knights. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

A 6-foot-2, 191Ib. native of Oakville, Ont., Bouchard sits fourth in scoring among OHL defencemen with 30 points (8-22–30) in 25 games while his 95 shots on goal rank second among blueliners. A veteran of 136 OHL regular season games, Bouchard has 91 points (21-70–91) in his OHL career. He was London’s first round pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection and was an ‘A’ rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. Bouchard represented the OHL in the 2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series this past month. 

OHL Rookie of the Month – Blade Jenkins (Saginaw Spirit):

Draft eligible Saginaw Spirit forward Blade Jenkins is the OHL Rookie of the Month for November. The 17-year-old led all rookies with 14 points including nine goals, five assists and a plus/minus rating of plus-10 in 12 games. Jenkins had points in eight of his 12 November outings, with a pair of three-point performances headlining his stat line. He recorded his first career OHL hat-trick on Nov. 4th against North Bay before scoring twice and adding an assist on Nov. 22nd in Flint. Jenkins, whose 14 points all came at even strength, helped the Spirit to a 9-2-1-0 month of November. 

Blade Jenkins of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images
Blade Jenkins of the Saginaw Spirit. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

A 6-foot-1, 195Ib. left-winger from Jackson, Mich., Jenkins sits second in OHL rookie scoring with 18 points (11-7–18) in 25 games. Formerly Saginaw’s first round (4th overall) pick in the 2016 OHL Priority Selection, Jenkins was included on NHL Central Scouting’s November ‘Players to Watch’ List. 

 

Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):

Los Angeles Kings prospect Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the OHL Goaltender of the Month for November. The 18-year-old played to a perfect 9-0-0-0 record with an OHL-best 2.22 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage with one shutout over nine November appearances, helping the Greyhounds climb into the West Division lead on a 12-game winning streak. Villalta backstopped the Hounds to a perfect month, putting together back-to-back one-goal performances on Nov. 4th against Niagara and Nov. 5th against North Bay. He registered his first shutout of the season on Nov. 17th with a 16-save showing in Sudbury. 

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A 6-foot-3, 183Ib. native of Godfrey, Ont. outside of Kingston, Villalta is second among OHL goaltenders with a 2.53 goals-against average along with a 16-2-1-0 record, a .907 save percentage and one shutout. He holds an impressive career record of 41-5-1-0 over 52 career regular season games to go with a 2.45 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage and two shutouts. A free agent addition by the Greyhounds out of Training Camp in 2016, Villalta was a third round pick by the Los Angeles Kings this past summer.

2017-18 OHL Performers of the Month:

Player of the Month:
November – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)
October – Jordan Kyrou (Sarnia Sting)

Defenceman of the Month:
November – Evan Bouchard (London Knights)
October – Sean Durzi (Owen Sound Attack)

Rookie of the Month:
November – Blade Jenkins (Saginaw Spirit)
October – Andrei Svechnikov (Barrie Colts)

Vaughn Goaltender of the Month:
November – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
October – Justin Fazio (Sarnia Sting)

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)

OHL Announces Top Performers of the Month for March

Toronto, ON –  The Ontario Hockey League today announced the Top OHL Performers of the Month for regular season games played in March 2017, including Owen Sound Attack teammates Petrus Palmu and Santino Centorame along with Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds goaltender Matthew Villalta.

OHL Player of the Month – Petrus Palmu (Owen Sound Attack):
Owen Sound Attack winger Petrus Palmu is the OHL Player of the Month for March after leading all players with 20 points including seven goals and 13 assists in nine games to go with a plus/minus rating of plus-13. The Finnish forward had points in all nine contests, including seven multi-point efforts headlined by a four-point performance, netting four assists in a 6-4 road win over the Niagara IceDogs on March 9th. Palmu finished the 2016-17 season with goals in six straight outings, including a two-goal, one assist showing as the Attack defeated the Sarnia Sting 9-3 on March 12th. The 19-year-old rounded out the month with a goal and two assists in Owen Sound’s 8-5 win in Guelph on Sunday as the Attack secured third place in the Western Conference.

A native of Joensuu, Finland, Palmu closed out his third OHL season with 98 points, the most by an Attack player since Bobby Ryan’s 102 in 2006-07. Palmu’s 98 points including 40 goals and 58 assists place him fourth in league scoring as the Attack finished second in the Midwest Division with a franchise-best record of 49-15-2-2. Owen Sound’s first round (22nd overall) CHL Import Draft selection in 2014, Palmu has not been drafted to the NHL but attended Training Camp with the Montreal Canadiens last fall. He represented Finland at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.

OHL Defenceman of the Month – Santino Centorame (Owen Sound Attack):
For the second time this season, Owen Sound Attack captain Santino Centorame is the OHL’s Defenceman of the Month, leading all rearguards with 15 points including two goals and 13 assists in nine contests. Centorame surpassed Chris Bigras as Owen Sound’s all-time franchise scoring leader among defencemen during the productive month of March, recording points in eight of his nine outings. The 20-year-old recorded three assists in a 6-4 win over the Niagara IceDogs on March 9th. He earned first star honours twice, first on March 16th with a goal and two assists in Owen Sound’s 6-1 victory in Windsor to set a new franchise mark for wins in a season. He posted two assists a game later to earn first star recognition and help the Attack defeat the Kitchener Rangers 7-2 on March 18th.

A native of Mississauga, Ont., Centorame finishes his fourth and final OHL season second in league scoring among defencemen with 73 points including seven goals and a 66 assists to go with a plus/minus rating of plus-37. He ends his OHL regular season career with 29 goals, 133 assists and 162 points in 265 games between Owen Sound and London to go with a plus/minus rating of plus-55. Originally London’s fourth round (88th overall) pick in 2012, Centorame attended Training Camp with the St. Louis Blues last fall.

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month & OHL Rookie of the Month – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds):
After an outstanding month of March, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds rookie Matthew Villalta is the first dual-award winner of the 2016-17 season. The 17-year-old is the Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month and the OHL Rookie of the Month after leading all netminders with a 1.34 goals-against average and .957 save percentage along with a 5-1-0-0 record with one shutout over six games. Villalta’s month started with a bang as he turned in a 37-save performance to record his first OHL shutout in a 6-0 win over the Guelph Storm on March 3rd. He made 27 saves two nights later in a 2-1 road win over the Kitchener Rangers. Villalta made a season-high 40 saves as the Hounds defeated the Rangers 6-1 at home on March 10th. He closed out the month with a 27-save effort in a 3-1 win over the Saginaw Spirit on March 17th. He received star of the game recognition four times, including a pair of first star designations.

A native of Godfrey, Ont., Villalta finished his rookie season with an impressive 25-3-0-0 record to go with a 2.41 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage. He becomes the OHL’s first 17-year-old rookie to win 25 games in a season since 2006-07 and sets a new Greyhounds single-season record for lowest goals-against average as his 2.41 mark surpasses the prior benchmark of 2.44 set by Kyle Gajewski in 2007-08. Villalta enjoyed a 16-game winning streak from Sept. 24th to Feb. 10th, marking the longest winning streak by an OHL goaltender since Niagara’s Mark Visentin won 17 straight during the 2011-12 season. Signed as a free agent by the Greyhounds out of Training Camp last fall, Villalta is eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft.

2016-17 OHL Performers of the Month:
Player of the Month:
March – Petrus Palmu (Owen Sound Attack)
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:
March – Santino Centorame (Owen Sound Attack)
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:
March – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
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:
March – Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
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)

OHL Announces 2016-17 Regular Season Award Winners

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the recipients of four of the league’s annual awards following the conclusion of the 2016-17 regular season.

Offensively, Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters captured the league’s scoring title earning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy along with the Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy presented to the Top Scoring Right Winger.  The other two awards recognize defensive efforts including the Dave Pinkney Trophy for the goaltending tandem of the team with the fewest goals against won by Owen Sound Attack netminder Michael McNiven and Emanuel Vella, and the F.W “Dinty” Moore Trophy awarded to Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds as the rookie with the best goals-against-average.

OHL Logo

Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy (Scoring Champion) and Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy (Top Scoring Right Winger): Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters:

Alex DeBrincat recorded 65 goals and 62 assists for 127 points in 63 games to lead all OHL players in regular season scoring.

The 19-year-old from Farmington Hills, Michigan, delivered a multitude of scoring records over the course of the 2016-17 campaign helping the Otters capture their second straight Hamilton Spectator Trophy, third straight Midwest Division crown, and record fourth straight 50 win season.

His 65 goals represent a new Erie Otters single season record after cementing his position as the first player since Dale McCourt (1974-77) to record three-straight 50-goal seasons and matching Mike Ricci’s 1988 mark with goals in 19 consecutive games.  DeBrincat also became just the eighth player in the league’s modern era to record three-straight 100-point seasons, and the third Otter to reach the prestigious 300 career-point milestone.  In 191 career games over three seasons, the undrafted free agent signee has scored 167 goals and 165 assists for 332 points.  He is the Otters all-time leading goal scorer and the leading American goal scorer in OHL history.

The second round pick of the Blackhawks in the 2016 NHL Draft is the third Otter to earn the league’s scoring title doing so in a span of four years following Dylan Strome (2014-15) and Connor Brown (2013-14).  In addition to the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy, Brown was also the club’s first Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy recipient.

The Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy was donated by the Toronto Marlboro Athletic Club in memory of Eddie Powers and was first awarded in 1945-46 to Tod Sloan of St. Michael’s who scored 79 points in 25 games.  Kevin Labanc of the Barrie Colts was last year’s recipient with 127 points in 65 games including 39 goals and 88 assists.  Other notable winners include Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin who tied for the league’s scoring title before being chosen first and second overall respectively in 2010, while fellow first overall NHL picks John Tavares (2009), and Patrick Kane (2007) are also recent winners.

The Jim Mahon Trophy was first presented following the 1971-72 season by the players and management of the Peterborough Petes in memory of their right winger Jim Mahon who was accidentally killed that summer.  Labanc was also the 2015-16 recipient.

Dave Pinkney Trophy (Lowest Team Goals Against): Michael McNiven and Emanuel Vella, Owen Sound Attack

The Owen Sound Attack allowed the fewest goals in the OHL this season with just 177 against, backstopped by the tandem of Michael McNiven and Emanuel Vella.

McNiven, a 19-year-old from Georgetown, ON, led the league with a 2.30 goals-against-average and finished the 2016-17 campaign with a .915 save percentage in 54 games.  The Montreal Canadiens prospect carried a record of 41-9-2-2 which led the league in wins and also set an Attack single season record.  His six shutouts were tied for a league-high and brought his career total to 11 which is also a new franchise mark.  Vella, an 18-year-old from Toronto, ON, played eight games for the Attack posting a 5-2-0-0 record with a goals-against-average 3.21 and save percentage of .863 after being acquired from the London Knights in November.

2016-17 marks the best season in franchise history for the Attack with a 49-15-2-2 record for 102 points surpassing their previous best of 46 wins and 97 points set in their 2011 OHL Championship season.

The Dave Pinkney Trophy is awarded annually to the goaltending tandem from the team that allows the fewest goals against during the regular season.  Last season, the London Knights allowed 182 goals against with the award presented to Tyler Parsons and Brendan Burke.

The 2012-13 Attack tandem of Jordan Binnington and Brandon Hope allowed just 165 goals against to claim the club’s only other Dave Pinkney Trophy in Owen Sound history.

F.W. “Dinty” Moore Trophy (Best Rookie GAA): Matthew Villalta, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Matthew Villalta had the best goals-against-average among OHL rookie goaltenders in 2016-17 with a mark of 2.41 for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds who captured their third West Division title in four years.

Not only did his 2.41 GAA lead all rookies, it was the fifth lowest across the entire league, and set a new Greyhounds record besting Kyle Gajewski’s 2.44 mark in 2007-08.

A 17-year-old from Godfrey, ON, Villalta committed to the Greyhounds prior to the 2016-17 campaign after competing last season as a member of the Greater Kingston AAA Midget Hockey Club.  The rookie played in 33 games this season carrying a record of 25-3-0-0 including one shutout with a save percentage of .918 while posting 16-straight victories from September 24 to February 10.  His 25 wins are the most by a 17-year-old OHL rookie in 10 years following Mississauga’s Andrew Loverock (31) and Guelph’s Thomas McCollum (26) in 2006-07.

The trophy is named after F.W. “Dinty” Moore of Port Colborne, ON, who served as OHA President from 1942-45.  In order to qualify for this rookie award, a goaltender must play a minimum of 900 minutes.  Michael DiPietro of the Windsor Spitfires won the award last season with a 2.45 goals-against-average.

Villalta is the fifth Greyhound to win the award following Gajewski (2004-05), Kevin Hodson (1990-91), Gerry Iuliano (1983-84), and John Vanbiesbrouck (1980-81).

Greyhounds’ Matthew Villalta named Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that rookie Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending March 5 after posting a 2-0-0-0 record including a shutout victory with a goals-against-average of 0.50 and save percentage of .985.

Villalta earns the award for the second time this season turning aside 64 shots in a pair of road victories for the CHL’s fifth ranked Greyhounds who continue to hold first place in the OHL’s West Division with a 43-15-3-1 record.  On Friday night he earned first star honours posting his first career shutout, a 37-save performance, as part of a 6-0 win over the Guelph Storm, then finished the week Sunday making 27 saves and earning second star honours in a 2-1 triumph over the Kitchener Rangers.

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A 17-year-old from Kingston, ON, Villalta committed to the Greyhounds prior to the 2016-17 campaign after competing last season as a member of the Greater Kingston AAA Midget Hockey Club last season.  He currently carries a 22-2-0-0 record powered by 16-straight wins earlier this season and holds the league’s fifth best goals-against-average with a mark of 2.51 along with a solid save percentage of .913.

Also considered for the award this week was Matthew Welsh of the Charlottetown Islanders who earned a pair of first star honours with a 2-0-0-0 record including a shutout victory making 60 saves for a goals-against-average of 0.50 and save percentage of .984.  In the WHL, Michael Herringer of the Kelowna Rockets who posted a 3-0-0-0 record making 74 saves for a goals-against-average of 1.10 and save percentage of .961.

2016-17 Vaughn CHL Goaltenders of the Week:
Feb. 27 – Mar. 5: Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Feb. 20 – Feb. 26: Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Feb. 13 – Feb. 19: Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)

Feb. 6 – Feb. 12: Brodan Salmond (Kelowna Rockets)
Jan. 30 – Feb. 5: Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge Hurricanes)
Jan. 23 – Jan. 29: Jeremy Helvig (Kingston Frontenacs)
Jan. 16 – Jan. 22: Matthew Welsh (Charlottetown Islanders)
Jan. 9 – Jan. 15: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)
Jan. 2 – Jan. 8: Francis Leclerc (Blainville-Boisbriand Armada)
Dec. 26 – Jan. 1: Griffen Outhouse (Victoria Royals)
Dec. 12 – Dec. 18: Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)
Dec. 5 – Dec. 11: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)
Nov. 28 – Dec. 4: Connor Ingram (Kamloops Blazers)
Nov. 21 – Nov. 27: Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips)
Nov. 14 – Nov. 20: Matthew Villalta (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Nov. 7 – Nov. 13: Patrick Dea (Edmonton Oil Kings)
Oct. 31 – Nov. 6: Zach Sawchenko (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Oct. 24 – Oct. 30: Troy Timpano (Erie Otters)
Oct. 17 – Oct. 23: Reilly Pickard (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)
Oct. 10 – Oct. 16: Ryan Kubic (Vancouver Giants)
Oct. 3 – Oct. 9: Logan Flodell (Saskatoon Blades)
Sept. 26 – Oct. 2: Samuel Harvey (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)
Sept. 21 – Sept. 25: Liam Herbst (Guelph Storm)

CHL Leagues

 

Spitfires’ Gabriel Vilardi named Pioneer Energy OHL Player of the Week

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that 2017 NHL Draft prospect Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires is the Pioneer Energy OHL Player of the Week for the week ending March 5 after leading the league with nine points in three games scoring four goals and five assists with a plus-minus rating of plus-4.

Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Vilardi recorded a trio of multi-point performances last week for the Spitfires who won all three of their games to keep pace in the competitive Western Conference standings where they remain in fifth place with a 39-15-5-3 record just two points behind the Owen Sound Attack.  Vilardi and the Mastercard Memorial Cup hosts took full advantage of Sportsnet’s spotlight grabbing two wins against top-five CHL ranked competition including Thursday night over the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Saturday afternoon against the London Knights both played before a national broadcast audience.  Vilardi began the week earning first star honours with a goal and an assist in the 4-3 overtime triumph against the Hounds, then earned second star recognition contributing two assists in the 4-1 victory against the Knights.  The OHL’s top ranked NHL Draft prospect elevated his play on Sunday with a career-high five points collecting his second hat-trick of the season as first star of a 7-1 win over the Sudbury Wolves.

A 17-year-old from Kingston, ON, Vilardi is playing in his second season with the Spitfires who chose him second overall in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection.  He is listed third overall among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting for the 2017 NHL Draft and competed in January’s Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Quebec City scoring a goal for Team Cherry in their 7-5 win.  Vilardi currently has 28 goals and 31 assists for 59 points in 43 games and is the third Spitfire to earn the league’s weekly honour this season following teammates Michael DiPietro and Logan Brown.

Watch video highlights of Vilardi and the Spitfires against the Greyhounds, Knights, and Wolves.

Also considered for the award this week was fellow 2017 NHL Draft prospect Nick Suzuki of the Owen Sound Attack who scored five goals and one assist for six points in two games, and Los Angeles Kings prospect Spencer Watson of the Central Division champion Mississauga Steelheads who scored twice with five assists for seven points in three games.  In goal, rookie Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds posted a 2-0-0-0 record including a shutout victory making 64 saves for a goals-against-average of 0.50 and save percentage of .985.

2016-17 Pioneer Energy OHL Players of the Week:

Feb. 27 – Mar. 5: Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor Spitfires)
Feb. 20 – Feb. 26: Michael McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads)
Feb. 13 – Feb. 19: Joseph Murdaca (Erie Otters)
Feb. 6 – Feb. 12: Spencer Watson (Mississauga Steelheads)
Jan. 30 – Feb. 5: Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)
Jan. 23 – Jan. 29: Jeremy Helvig (Kingston Frontenacs)
Jan. 16 – Jan. 22: Hayden Hodgson (Saginaw Spirit)
Jan. 9 – Jan. 15: Kole Sherwood (Flint Firebirds)
Jan. 2 – Jan. 8: Santino Centorame (Owen Sound Attack)
Dec. 26Jan. 1: Michael McNiven (Owen Sound Attack)
Dec. 12 – Dec. 18: Dylan Wells (Peterborough Petes)
Dec. 5 – Dec. 11: Michael DiPietro (Windsor Spitfires)
Nov. 28 – Dec. 4: Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)
Nov. 21 – Nov. 27: Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Nov. 14 – Nov. 20: Jeremy Bracco (Kitchener Rangers)
Nov. 7 – Nov. 13: Jonathan Ang (Peterborough Petes)
Oct. 31 – Nov. 6: Alex DeBrincat (Erie Otters)
Oct. 24 – Oct. 30: Troy Timpano (Erie Otters)
Oct. 17 – Oct. 23: Max Jones (London Knights)
Oct. 10 – Oct. 16: Jeremy Bracco (Kitchener Rangers)
Oct. 3 – Oct. 9: Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires)
Sept. 26 – Oct. 2: Joseph Raaymakers (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Sept. 21 – Sept. 25: Matt Luff (Hamilton Bulldogs)

Matthew Villalta – Soo Greyhounds – Player Profile

Height:  6’2”

Weight: 170 pounds

Date of birth: June 3, 1999

Hometown: Kingston, Ontario

Position: Goaltender

Catches: Left

OHL Draft: Undrafted free agent

A season ago, Soo Greyhounds netminder Matthew Villalta played midget hockey for the Greater Kingston Midget AAA squad. The Native of Kingston, Ontario, went undrafted at the 2016 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection and walked onto the Greyhounds development camp as a free agent invite.

And the rest as they say, is history.

Villalta made an impression at the Greyhounds development camp and received an invitation to attend their main camp. Almost from the get-go he has been pushing incumbent Joseph Raaymakers for starts. Villalta has appeared in 22 games, coming in to replace Raaymakers on five of those occasions.

Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.
Matthew Villalta of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

Villalta has a very impressive 16-1-0-0 record with goals against average of 2.64 and a save percentage of .908. His single loss is the fewest in the OHL of any goaltender that has appeared in 20 or more games. His only loss was a 5-2 loss against the Windsor Spitfires – his first game of the season – and has since reeled off sixteen straight wins. His most recent was last night when he replaced Raaymakers after the first period with the Guelph Storm holding a 3-0 lead and turning it into a 7-5 victory.

Villalta’s goals against average and save percentage are tops among rookie goaltenders appearing in ten or more games. He is sixth in the OHL in goals against average and tenth in save percentage (minimum ten games played). By comparison, his partner in the Soo has a 21-12-2-1 record with a 3.36 goals against average and .892 save percentage.

Villalta didn’t take the easy path to the OHL. By no means am I making this comparison between goaltenders, but as an undrafted goalie, it’s the same path taken by London Knights goaltender Tyler Parsons, with one key difference – Parsons did it the year prior to his draft season.

On NHL, Central Scouting’s mid-term rankings, Villalta was ranked fourteenth among North American goaltenders and fourth among OHL goaltenders behind Michael DiPietro (Windsor) Kyle Keyser (Oshawa) and Kaden Fulcher (Hamilton).

Like all goaltenders his age, it’s all in the ongoing development and fine tuning his technique. He’s a calm goaltender who gets square to the shooter quickly, but needs to make himself bigger when in the butterfly position – a technique that can be adjusted. He controls his rebounds well at times, but there are times they go back in to the dangerous area – again a technique that can be adjusted.

He’s good in close and on second chances, but needs to be stronger on covering up loose pucks. He plays his angles well and gets out to the top of the paint to take away those angle. He needs to get stronger on the short side and hold his posts. He has above average mobility in the crease and can move from side to side well but in my viewings, is weaker moving from his left to his right. His glove hand is solid. He has shown an ability to show five-hole and close it quickly, but needs to be quicker to get back on his feet.

Villalta’s flaws can be corrected as he continues to work on his technique, and he’s willing, by all accounts, to put in the necessary work. I’ve made no secret that I think he can move forward and carry the load for the Greyhounds heading towards, and into the playoffs. In my opinion, he’s a high risk, high reward goaltender.

When he walked onto the Greyhounds camp, GM Kyle Raftis said “he has a high ceiling.”

Matthew Villalta hockey statistics and profile at hockeydb.com

Statistics of Matthew Villalta, a hockey player from Kingston, ONT born Jun 3 1999 who was active from 2016 to 2017.