The London Knights won their second OHL Championship, playing to an overall playoff record of 16-3 with a five-game series victory over the Niagara IceDogs to hoist the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
After finishing the season as Hamilton Spectator Trophy recipients, the Knights fought off the Windsor Spitfires, Saginaw Spirit and Kitchener Rangers to reach the OHL Championship Series, eliminating the Niagara IceDogs before eventually losing a Memorial Cup Final overtime heartbreaker to the host Shawinigan Cataractes.
The first of back-to-back OHL Championships for the Knights included veteran scorers Seth Griffith, Vladislav Namestnikov and Greg McKegg playing prominent roles up front on a forward corps that also included scrappy twins Matt and Ryan Rupert along with prominent rookies in Max Domi and Bo Horvat. Mid-season acquisition Austin Watson earned Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award honours, coming up big for London late in the Niagara series while playing key minutes down the middle.
Despite coming short of a championship, 2011-12 was a big year for the Niagara IceDogs who won their first Eastern Conference title. Niagara featured star netminder Mark Visentin who broke an OHL record of over 60 years when he posted his 10th shutout of the season, a figure that translated to a 1.99 goals-against average. Fifth-year veterans Andrew Agozzino and Alex Friesen also drove the IceDogs’ success along with brothers Freddie and Dougie Hamilton.
Knights goaltender Michael Houser became the fifth goaltender in OHL history to earn the Red Tilson Trophy as the League’s Most Valuable Player, tying a league record with 46 regular season victories while playing behind a defence corps that included Olli Maatta, Jarred Tinordi and Scott Harrington.
Elsewhere in the OHL, the League scoring crown went to Sudbury Wolves overage forward Michael Sgarbossa who joined Ottawa’s Tyler Toffoli with triple digit point totals.
Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the first overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft.
Notable OHL graduates in the class of 2011-12 included Toffoli (Ottawa 67’s/Los Angeles Kings) who put up his second of back-to-back 100-point seasons and finished his career with 333 points. Tanner Pearson (Barrie Colts/Vancouver Canucks) has gone on to an NHL career as have Brandon Saad (Saginaw Spirit/Chicago Blackhawks) and goaltender Petr Mrazek (Ottawa 67’s/Carolina Hurricanes).