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Stanley Cup champion Blues bolstered by OHL talent

 

The St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions for the first time in their 52-year history and the ride was far from ordinary. Wednesday’s 4-1 road win over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final capped what is one of the most remarkable turnarounds in NHL history.

The Blues were the League’s last place team as the calendar turned to 2019, responding by putting together a 30-10-5 showing through the final 45 games of the regular season to clinch third place in the Central Division. The march up the standings coincided with a change behind the bench as associate coach Craig Berube was appointed interim head coach only weeks earlier.

Much like the 2019 OHL champion Guelph Storm, the Blues seemed to get better as each progressive playoff series wore on. In the end, the Blues would tie NHL records by playing 26 playoff contests and a total of 108 since the regular season began back on October 3rd.

While several staff members with OHL roots including assistant coaches Steve Ott and Mike Van Ryn played important roles, players developed in the OHL had a significant impact as 11 alumni were part of the club’s playoff roster. Here’s a closer look at the contributions made by OHL products as the St. Louis Blues capped off the 2018-19 NHL season by capturing Stanley Cup glory in Game 7.

 

Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack 2009-13)

  • 2011 OHL champion with the Owen Sound Attack and 2013 OHL Goaltender of the Year
  • Was originally St. Louis’ third round pick in 2011, spending five full seasons developing within the organization before jumping to full-time NHL duty midway through the 2018-19 season
  • Became the fourth rookie in NHL history to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, setting a new NHL rookie record with his 16th playoff win
  • Concluded the 2018-19 season with 24 wins, the most in a season by a St. Louis Blues rookie goaltender
  • Is the first rookie goaltender in Blues franchise history to post five shutouts in a single season

Robert Bortuzzo (Kitchener Rangers 2006-09)

  • Native of Thunder Bay, Ont. was a 2008 OHL champion with the Kitchener Rangers
  • Game winning goal in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against San Jose and former Kitchener head coach Peter DeBoer was his first playoff marker since March 23, 2007 as a Ranger

Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa Generals/London Knights 2006-09)

  • Former 2nd overall OHL Priority Selection choice spent three seasons between Oshawa and London before making the jump to the NHL as a 19-year-old in 2009-10
  • Split the 2018-19 season between Vancouver, Anaheim and St. Louis, playing in seven regular season games with the Blues.

Vince Dunn (Niagara IceDogs 2013-16)

  • Played three seasons with the Niagara IceDogs, graduating as an OHL Eastern Conference champion in 2016
  • Was St. Louis’ second round pick in 2015, spending the 2016-17 campaign in the AHL before making the jump to full-time NHL duty in 2017-18
  • Missed playoff action due to a facial injury but played in 20 postseason contests, recording eight points (2-6–8) along the way

Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm 2012-15)

  • Former Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award recipient as OHL Playoff MVP guided the Storm to an OHL title in 2014
  • St. Louis’ first round (21st overall) pick in 2014 has battled injuries over the past several seasons but appeared in 10 playoff games, scoring once

Pat Maroon (London Knights 2007-08)

  • Played one OHL season in London, putting up 90 points (35-55–90) during the 2007-08 campaign
  • St. Louis native wins the Stanley Cup with his hometown Blues in his sixth full NHL season
  • Maroon scored one of St. Louis’ biggest goals of the 2019 playoffs, connecting with Robert Thomas in double-overtime to eliminate the Dallas Stars in Game 7 of the second round

Jordan Nolan (Erie Otters/Windsor Spitfires/Soo Greyhounds 2005-10)

  • Son of former OHL and NHL coach Ted Nolan played five seasons between Erie, Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie
  • Nolan wins his third Stanley Cup after playing 14 regular season games with the Blues along with 59 with the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage

Ryan O’Reilly (Erie Otters 2007-09)

  • Former 1st overall OHL Priority Selection choice played two seasons with the Erie Otters before making the jump to the NHL as an 18-year old in 2009-10
  • O’Reilly set a Blues franchise playoff record with 23 points (8-15–23), becoming the first player since Wayne Gretzky in 1985 to score in four consecutive Stanley Cup Final contests. He is just the third player in NHL history to score his team’s opening goal in four straight games during the Stanley Cup Final
  • O’Reilly wins his first Stanley Cup in his 10th NHL season

Alex Pietrangelo (Mississauga IceDogs/Niagara IceDogs/Barrie Colts 2006-10)

  • Former 3rd overall OHL Priority Selection choice played parts of four OHL seasons, winning an Eastern Conference title with the Barrie Colts in 2010
  • Blues captain was the club’s first round (4th overall) pick of the 2008 NHL Draft and hoists the Stanley Cup in his ninth full NHL season
  • Finished the 2019 playoffs leading all NHL defencemen with 19 points (3-16–19). His 16 playoff assists are the most in Blues franchise history
  • Pietrangelo’s 669:29 minutes played led the NHL playoffs

Robert Thomas (London Knights/Hamilton Bulldogs 2015-18)

  • A 2016 OHL and Memorial Cup champion with London as well as a 2018 OHL champion with Hamilton, Thomas adds to his trophy case with a Stanley Cup to cap his first NHL season
  • St. Louis’ first round (20th overall) pick in 2017, Thomas put up 33 points (9-24–33) during the regular season before adding six (1-5–6) in 21 playoff contests. He’s joins Nathan MacKinnon, Tyler Seguin, Erik Karlsson, Jordan Staal and Joe Thornton as the sixth teenager in the last 20 years to record six points in the NHL Playoffs
  • Thomas’ assist on Pat Maroon’s winner in Game 7 of the second round in Dallas made him the second teenager in NHL history and first since 1944 to factor into a series-clinching overtime goal

Chris Thorburn (North Bay Centennials/Plymouth Whalers/Saginaw Spirit 1999-2003)

  • Last remaining North Bay Centennial in the NHL also suited up with the Plymouth Whalers and Saginaw Spirit over a four-year OHL career
  • Veteran 36-year-old spent the season with the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage while appearing in one regular season game with the Blues
  • First Stanley Cup title comes after 13 seasons and 801 career regular season games

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