Quick Hits: May 13, 2019
1) Ontario Hockey League: The Guelph Storm completed one of the most remarkable playoff runs in the annals of Canadian major junior hockey as they defeated the Ottawa 67's on Sunday in Guelph, 8-3, to win the OHL championship. After winning their opening round series with ease in a four-game sweep of Kitchener, Guelph had to overcome series deficits of 3-0 (vs. London Knights), 3-1 (Saginaw Spirit) and 2-0 (Ottawa) to win the championship.
Ottawa, the league's top team in the regular season, swept each of their first three rounds of the playoffs before winning Games 1 and 2 at home against Guelph to start the postseason with a perfect 14-0 record. Undaunted, the Storm proceeded to win the next four games in a row.
Flyers left wing prospect Isaac Ratcliffe, Guelph's team captain, played a pivotal role in his team's drive to the championship including first-star honors in Game 5 (one goal, nine shots on goal) and second-star in Game 6 (two goals, two assists, +4, four shots on goal). He concludes the OHL playoffs with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 24 games. He ranked third in goals and points during the postseason.
Combining the regular season and the OHL playoffs, Ratcliffe scored 65 goals and 112 points in 89 games. The numbers have to placed in context. Ratcliffe is a draft-plus-two player in his fourth OHL season, he is much bigger (6-foot-6, 204 pounds) than most of his opponents and, last but certainly not least, benefited greatly from a midseason trade that brought top Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki to Guelph to play on his line. Nevertheless, Ratcliffe's big final season of junior was right in line with the Flyers were hoping to see this season from him.
Now, it's on to the Memorial Cup for Ratcliffe and the Storm. Their opposition will be the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL champions), Halifax Mooseheads (tournament host team), and the winner of the WHL Final. Currently, the Prince Albert Raiders and Vancouver Giants are tied at 3-3 in their Western League Final series after Vancouver won, 4-2, on Sunday to force a 7th and deciding game in Price Albert in Monday. The Memorial Cup round-robin gets underway on Friday.
2) 2019 IIHF World Championships: There are four games on the preliminary round docket on Monday, all of which involve Flyers players.
* USA (1-1-0) vs. Finland (2-0-0): James van Riemsdyk has one assist thus far in two games played. He is opening this game on a line with Clayton Keller and Colin White.
* Russia (2-0-0) vs. Czech Republic (2-0-0): Jakub Voracek has collected four assists in his team's first two games. Radko Gudas is +2 with 6 PIM through two games.
* Canada (1-1-0) vs. Slovakia (1-1-0): Sean Couturier scored his first goal of tournament for Alain Vigneault's team as he tallied the squad's 7th goal against Great Britain. Carter Hart made his senior-level national team debut on Sunday, breezing to a 12-save shutout in Canada's 8-0 blowout of massive underdog Great Britain.
* Sweden (1-1-0) vs. : Oskar Lindblom has opened the tournament with goals in back-to-back games; both on the power play. Robert Hägg is +2 with 4 PIM through two games.
3) May 13 in Flyers History: On May 13, 1975, the Flyers put away the New York Islanders in the seventh and deciding game of the Stanley Cup semifinals with a 4-1 win at the Spectrum. After recovering from three games to zero deficit to win their quarterfinal series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Isles nearly do the same in the semis against the defending champion Flyers. Rick MacLeish (hat trick) and company were not about to let it happen. Gary Dornhoefer set the tone, giving Philly a 1-0 lead just 19 seconds into the game. Philly held the Isles to just 15 shots for the game, and Bernie Parent stopped 14. For more, click here
4) May 13 Flyers Alumni birthdays: Kris Versteeg (1986), Jamie Wright (1976).
5) If you have not done so, you should check out the podcasts that longtime pro goaltender Mike McKenna has been doing this offseason. McKenna is a natural on either side of the microphone; engaging, funny, articulate and relaxed. Recently, he did an interview with a fellow former Flyers goaltender, Martin Biron. For more, click here