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Summer With Stanley: OHL grads celebrate Blues’ first Championship

 

For the second straight year an NHL club is celebrating its first Stanley Cup title.

A total of 11 OHL graduates and a number of hockey operations staff with past ties to the League are celebrating the St. Louis Blues’ first championship in the club’s 52-year history this summer.

After the Cup began it’s worldwide tour on Canada’s pacific coast, OHL graduates Michael Del Zotto, Jordan Binnington, Vince Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo had their day with the prestigious trophy this past weekend.

Here’s a look at the ongoing celebrations throughout the summer.

To follow the Stanley Cup with the Blues all summer long, be sure to keep up with Hockey Hall of Fame ‘Keeper of the Cup’ Phil Pritchard (@keeperofthecup) who is making his way across the globe over the next several weeks.

 

MICHAEL DEL ZOTTO (Oshawa Generals, London Knights / Stouffville, ON – July 10th)

Though now officially a member of the Anaheim Ducks, former Oshawa Generals and London Knights defender Michael Del Zotto got things started on the Ontario leg of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup celebration tour. The 29-year-old defenceman posed for photos with the Cup beside his backyard pool and had fellow OHL grad Carlo Colaiacovo over for the celebration. Del Zotto suited up in seven games with the Blues this past season, also spending time with Anaheim and Vancouver. He played three OHL seasons between Oshawa and London from 2006-09 after being the second overall pick of the 2006 OHL Priority Selection. He was a first round pick of the New York Rangers in 2008, making the jump to the NHL in his 19-year-old season.

JORDAN BINNINGTON (Owen Sound Attack / Richmond Hill, ON – July 12th)

He’s been a champion before, and now Owen Sound Attack graduate Jordan Binnington has done it again. The newly turned 26-year-old brought the Cup to his hometown of Richmond Hill, Ont. for a day full of celebrations that included a parade and a community meet and greet. Binnington even mixed in a touching moment where he surprised a young fan named Kevin with the Stanley Cup. The Owen Sound Attack were also present as mascot Cubby was front and centre for the celebrations.  The 2011 OHL champion and former OHL Goaltender of the Year was instrumental in bringing St. Louis its first Stanley Cup, finishing the playoffs with an NHL rookie record 16 victories alongside a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. He turned in a tremendous regular season, going 24-5-1 with a 1.89 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

 

VINCE DUNN (Niagara IceDogs / Lindsay, ON – July 13th)

Niagara IceDogs graduate Vince Dunn made his day with the Cup count. The 22-year-old started the day with a bowl of cereal out of the Stanley Cup before a celebration at Old Mill Park in Lindsay.  Dunn also lifted the spirits of a fan battling colon cancer. He visited Ross Memorial Hospital to visit Bobcaygeon native Lawny Woodcock, a fan whose condition is improving but was recently told he won’t be leaving the hospital until 2020 due to complications. Dunn was able to enjoy a parade through Lindsay in a convertible driven by former IceDogs teammate and fellow Lindsay native Johnny Corneil. He capped the day off with a visit to SickKids Hospital in Toronto to see Oshawa Generals prospect Owen Brady who is currently on the road to recovery through a battle with osteosarcoma.  Dunn played three seasons for the IceDogs from 2013-16 and was selected by the Blues in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft. His sophomore NHL season was a successful one as he put up 35 points (12-23–35) over 78 games before picking up eight points (2-6–8) in 20 playoff contests.

 

ALEX PIETRANGELO (Mississauga/Niagara IceDogs, Barrie Colts / King City, ON – July 14th)

St. Louis Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo brought the Stanley Cup home to King City, Ont. The big defenceman enjoyed some family time with his wife and three small children and got a round of golf in with friends at his home course. Pietrangelo and the family even got to eat Nonna’s famous pasta out of the Stanley Cup before all was said and done. Pietrangelo enjoyed a four year OHL career between Mississauga, Niagara and Barrie, helping guide the Colts to an appearance in the OHL Championship Series in 2010. He was selected by the Blues with the fourth overall pick of the 2008 NHL Draft and has been patrolling their blue line ever since.

 

ROBBY FABBRI (Guelph Storm / Mississauga, ON – July 15th)

Guelph Storm graduate Robby Fabbri brought the Stanley Cup to Mississauga on Monday. The former OHL Cup champion brought the trophy back to where it all began at Iceland Arena, the home centre of the Mississauga Rebels AAA program. The first Rebels grad to ever win the NHL title, Fabbri also had the chance to eat a gourmet Italian meal out of the top of the Stanley Cup, dining with family on spaghetti and plenty of parmesan cheese. Fabbri also paid a visit to his hospitalized grandfather at Credit Valley Hospital, brightening his Nonno’s day. The 23-year-old played three OHL seasons in Guelph from 2012-15, winning an OHL championship while being named OHL Playoff MVP in 2014. He was St. Louis’ first round pick in 2014.

 

ROBERT BORTUZZO (Kitchener Rangers / Thunder Bay, ON – July 17th)

The Stanley Cup flew north to Thunder Bay for a visit with Kitchener Rangers graduate Robert Bortuzzo on Wednesday. The big blueliner took the trophy on a boat ride while eating some meat and cheese snacks out of the top of the Cup. He hosted an event with family and friends and also paid a visit to the George Jeffrey Children’s Centre. Bortuzzo played three OHL seasons with the Rangers from 2006-09, winning an OHL Championship with Kitchener in 2008. 

 

PAT MAROON (London Knights / St. Louis, MO – July 20th)

The Stanley Cup came home to St. Louis on Saturday for a visit with London Knights graduate Pat Maroon. Pat’s son Anthony started the day off by eating Toasted Crunch cereal out of the Cup before it headed off to the All-American Sports Mall in South County where Maroon had invited nearly 200 people that he credits for helping him through hockey. The Maroon’s enjoyed lunch at Charlie Gitto’s in downtown St. Louis where Maroon served toasted ravioli from the Stanley Cup. The big winger and his closest family and friends made a one-hour trip west of St. Louis to enjoy t he remainder of the evening on the lake, but not before stopping at a bar called Stranded Again to surprise the locals. Maroon’s evening on the lake was accompanied by the music of country star Adam Sanders who made the trip all the way from Nashville. Maroon skated with the Knights during the 2007-08 season, recording 90 points (35-55–90) over 64 contests.

 

JORDAN NOLAN (Erie Otters, Windsor Spitfires, Soo Greyhounds / St. Catharines, ON – July 24th)

Jordan Nolan’s third Stanley Cup celebration was a memorable one as the 30-year-old, who played in 14 games with the Blues during the regular season, brought the Cup home to St. Catharines. Nolan visited with friends and family including father and former accomplished former OHL and NHL coach Ted Nolan. Nolan’s daughter even got a candid shot with the trophy that drew plenty of likes from the Twitterverse.

RYAN O’REILLY (Erie Otters / Seaforth, ON, Goderich, ON – July 25th)

The small town of Seaforth, Ont., featuring a population of approximately 2,680, but on a big-time party for St. Louis Blues forward Ryan O’Reilly on Thursday. O’Reilly, who hails from the Seaforth area, was an integral part of the first championship in Blues franchise history, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the NHL Playoffs. O’Reilly’s day with the Cup featured everything from a helicopter ride, to a parades through Seaforth and Goderich and even a reunion with his 99-year-old grandmother. O’Reilly, who was also the recipient of the NHL’s Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive forward, is a former OHL star with the Erie Otters. He played two seasons in the league from 2007-09 after being the first overall pick of the 2007 OHL Priority Selection.

 

STEVE OTT (Windsor Spitfires / Windsor, ON – July 28th)

Though originally a product of Summerside, PEI, St. Louis Blues assistant coach Steve Ott brought the Stanley Cup back to Windsor, the site of an accomplished OHL career with the Spitfires from 1999-2002. Ott, who also played a season of Junior B with the nearby Leamington Flyers, pitched in with community initiatives on Sunday, joining forces with a local charity to collect canned food donations. Ott met with fans at an arena in nearby Lakeshore, Ont., entering the facility behind a procession of bagpipes as he hoisted the Cup over his head. Ott, who retired following a 15-year NHL career in 2017, just completed his second season as assistant coach with the Blues. 

 

ROBERT THOMAS (London Knights, Hamilton Bulldogs / Aurora, ON – July 29th)

The youngest St. Louis Blues player to hoist the Stanley Cup, Robert Thomas celebrated with what seemed to be the entire town of Aurora on Monday. The former two-time OHL champion and 2016 Memorial Cup champ hosted a large gathering in Aurora, signing autographs and meeting fans. He even stopped by the local Dairy Queen for some ice cream out of the Cup and renewed acquaintances with some former OHL mascots from London and Hamilton. Thomas, who recently had wrist surgery, was sporting a cast along with a permanent smile. The 20-year-old continues his winning ways with a collection that also includes a World Junior gold medal.

 

MIKE VAN RYN (Sarnia Sting, Niagara IceDogs, Kitchener Rangers / St. Augustine, FL – August 9th)

Former Sarnia Sting defenceman, Niagara IceDogs assistant coach and Kitchener Rangers head coach Mike Van Ryn enjoyed his day with the Stanley Cup in St. Augustine, Florida – America’s oldest city. The Blues assistant coach took the trophy out on the water with his family. His son Tucker even took the opportunity to raise his own miniature sized Cup over his head.

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