A perennial contender in recent years, the Erie Otters made OHL history on Saturday by becoming the first team to ever record three consecutive 50-win seasons.
The Otters defeated the Guelph Storm 5-3 in the back end of a home-and-home set to become the first OHL team to reach the half-century mark this season, compiling an overall record of 50-14-1-0 for 101 points.
While other franchises such as the London Knights (2003-07, 2011-14), Kitchener Rangers (2005-08) and Ottawa 67’s (1981-84) have come within a few wins of accomplishing the three-year feat, the Otters are the first in OHL history to master the evasive run of unprecedented consistency.
Producing the likes of 2015 first overall NHL Draft selection Connor McDavid, 2014 Red Tilson Trophy recipient Connor Brown, 2015 CHL Rookie of the Year Alex DeBrincat and reigning OHL leading scorer Dylan Strome, the Otters have treated their fans to some of the best action the CHL has to offer these past few seasons.
The three-year run began in 2013-14 on the heels of a 19-40-4-5 finish the year prior. With a sophomore Connor McDavid, 16-year-old second overall draft pick Dylan Strome and a core consisting of Connor Brown, Dane Fox and CHL Import Draft pick Andre Burakovsky, the Otters turned heads with a 52-14-2-0 finish, good for second in the Midwest Division.
The Otters, who had brought in veteran talent up front in Brendan Gaunce and Michael Curtis, made it all the way to the Western Conference final before falling in five games to the eventual OHL Champion Guelph Storm.
A rejuvenated group arrived the next season and went on to claim the franchise’s first Midwest Division title since 2002 when an OHL championship club led by franchise leading scorer Brad Boyes earned the distinction. The Otters played to a 50-12-0-2 mark, leading the league with 342 goals as Strome and McDavid finished first and third in league scoring respectively while rookie sensation Alex DeBrincat recorded 104 points (51-53–104) in 68 games.
— Erie Otters (@ErieOtters) March 13, 2016
— Dave Brown (@HDbrownie2000) March 13, 2016
The 2015 OHL Playoffs were a wild ride for the Otters as they got by Sarnia and London before a thrilling Western Conference final showdown with the Soo Greyhounds. Connor McDavid and Sault Ste. Marie’s Darnell Nurse went head-to-head throughout the series before McDavid’s four-point performance in Game 6 pushed the Otters into a matchup with Oshawa for the OHL Championship.
The Otters weren’t able to gain much traction against the eventual MasterCard Memorial Cup Champion Generals, dropping the series in five games to bring us to where the franchise is today, 50 wins later.
The fifth team in CHL history to string together three straight 50-win seasons, the Erie Otters have won five playoff rounds in the last two years but have yet to reach the ultimate goal of hoisting the Memorial Cup.
With a wealth of past playoff experience and an established core of veteran leaders, this group of Otters sets out to write the next chapter in what’s been a tale of consistent winning in Northwest Pennsylvania when the 2016 OHL Playoffs get underway later this month.
Canadian Hockey League – Three consecutive 50-win seasons:
Erie Otters (2013-16)
Kelowna Rockets (2012-15) (1 WHL title)
Edmonton Oil Kings (2011-14) (2 WHL titles, 1 Memorial Cup)
Saint John Sea Dogs (2009-12) (2 QMJHL titles, 1 Memorial Cup)
Kamloops Blazers (1989-92) (2 WHL titles, 1 Memorial Cup)