The London Knights are 2016 OHL Champions following a 1-0 Game 4 victory over the Niagara IceDogs in St. Catharines on Wednesday.
Christian Dvorak scored with 3:23 remaining in the first period with assists to Mitch Marner and Jacob Graves, giving the Knights the ammunition they’d need to win their fourth J. Ross Robertson Cup title in franchise history.
Knights goaltender Tyler Parsons recorded an 18-save shutout to earn second star honours as well as the adoration of his teammates.
“He was outstanding tonight and he has been the entire playoffs,” said Marner. “I honestly think he’s one of the best goaltenders in the upcoming draft. His athleticism and the way he works in practice make him such a tough guy to beat.”
Marner was voted OHL Playoff MVP and recipient of the Wayne Gretzky ‘99’ Award with 44 points including 16 goals and 28 assists in 18 games. His linemates, Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk, were the top three scorers of the 2016 OHL playoffs. Marner and Dvorak extended their respective point streaks to 16 games in Wednesday’s win as the Knights wrapped up the 4-0 series sweep.
London’s 13th straight win set a new OHL playoff record as they surpass the 12-straight by the 1988 Windsor Spitfires while also becoming just the second team since the introduction of the conference playoff format in 1999 to go 16-2, joining elite company in the 2005 London Knights championship team.
“I’m proud of these guys, they aren’t individuals, they don’t play like individuals and they care about each other,” said Knights head coach Dale Hunter during championship celebrations. “It’s a credit to these guys and the character they’ve shown to get here. Championships take character and these guys all played for each other.”
London’s two playoff losses came at the hands of the Owen Sound Attack in a first round series they won in six games before winning four straight over the Kitchener Rangers, Erie Otters, and Niagara IceDogs. For the Knights, the adversity marked a turning point in their playoff quest.
“I think that was a wake up call,” said Dvorak. “Owen Sound played us tough and forced us to look in the mirror a little bit and we haven’t lost since.”
The Knights become the first third seed to win an OHL title since 2004 when the Guelph Storm hoisted the J. Ross Robertson Cup. The fourth title in franchise history follows victories in 2005, 2012 and 2013 as they advance to their fourth MasterCard Memorial Cup in the last five years.
Upon receiving the J. Ross Robertson Cup, Knights captain Mitch Marner passed the trophy to Jacob Buch, London’s fifth round pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection who committed to the club in June of 2014. Buch was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma shortly thereafter, a rare form of bone cancer that affects mainly children and adolescents.
The Knights are the first champion from across the Canadian Hockey League to advance to the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup and will open competition against the host Red Deer Rebels next Friday May 20.
Rogers OHL Championship Series
Game 1 – NIAG 1 @ LDN 4
Game 2 – NIAG 1 @ LDN 6
Game 3 – LDN 6 @ NIAG 5 OT
Game 4 – LDN 1 @ NIAG 0