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Ryan O’Reilly among OHL graduates making the difference as Blues win first Stanley Cup title

Ontario Hockey League

 

The wait is finally over as the St. Louis Blues are Stanley Cup champions for the first time in their 52-year history.

The Blues pulled off a 4-1 road win over the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday as OHL graduates Ryan O’Reilly (Erie Otters) and Alex Pietrangelo (Barrie Colts) provided first period goals and the Blues never looked back, being backstopped by a 32-save performance from goaltender Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack).

O’Reilly finished with a Blues franchise playoff record 23 points (8-15–23) to earn the Conn Smythe Trophy as NHL Playoff MVP. He’s the first player on any team to record nine or more points in a single Stanley Cup Final since 2010.

“Once we got that lead, we knew were going to get it. It was unbelievable. We worked so hard,” an exuberant O’Reilly told Hockey Night in Canada’s Scott Oake following the victory. “I really tried to leave it out there every shift, stop trying to worry about the outcome, and give everything I have one shift at a time.”

Brayden Schenn (Saskatoon Blades) and Zach Sanford also scored for St. Louis before Boston’s Matt Grzelcyk snapped Binnington’s shutout bid with 2:10 left in regulation.

A former OHL Goaltender of the Year, Binnington finished the playoffs with an NHL rookie record 16 victories alongside a 2.46 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. The 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont. is a Calder Trophy candidate after a tremendous regular season showing that included a 24-5-1 record with a 1.89 goals-against average and .927 save percentage.

A pair of recent OHL champions in Robert Thomas (Hamilton Bulldogs 2018, London Knights 2016) and Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm 2014) joined Binnington (Owen Sound Attack 2011) in climbing to the top of the hockey world once again, each capturing their first Stanley Cup title.

The championship underlines an incredible turnaround season by the Blues that saw the club sitting in last place league-wide as the calendar turned to 2019, only to put together a 30-10-5 showing through the final 45 games of the regular season to clinch third place in the Central Division. The remarkable comeback coincided with a change behind the bench as associate coach Craig Berube (Medicine Hat Tigers) was appointed interim head coach only weeks earlier.

The Blues become the first team in 30 years to win the Stanley Cup without a previous winner on their roster, doing so as the fifth team in NHL history to win Game 7 of the Championship Final on the road. They played to a postseason record of 16-10, overcoming the Winnipeg Jets (4-2), Dallas Stars (4-3) and San Jose Sharks (4-2) before besting the Boston Bruins (4-3) for Stanley Cup glory.

OHL GRADUATES & 2019 STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS:
Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound Attack 2013)
Robert Bortuzzo (Kitchener Rangers)
Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa Generals/London Knights 2009)
Vince Dunn (Niagara IceDogs 2016)
Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm 2015)
Pat Maroon (London Knights 2008)
Ryan O’Reilly (Erie Otters 2009)
Alex Pietrangelo (Niagara IceDogs/Barrie Colts 2010)
Robert Thomas (London Knights/Hamilton Bulldogs 2018)
Chris Thorburn (North Bay Centennials/Saginaw Spirit/Plymouth Whalers 2003)

Assistant Coach Mike Van Ryn (Sarnia Sting 2000, Head Coach Kitchener Rangers 2015-16)
Assistant Coach Steve Ott (Windsor Spitfires 2002)
Assistant Coach Larry Robinson (Kitchener Rangers 1971)
Senior Advisor to General Manager Al MacInnis (Kitchener Rangers 1983)
Assistant GM Bill Armstrong (Oshawa Generals 1990)
Director of Player Development & Pro Scout Tim Taylor (London Knights 1989)
Amateur Scout Ian MacLellan (Owen Sound Attack)
Amateur Scout Jeff McKercher (Peterborough Petes 1999)

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