Three budding stars who added hardware to their trophy cases in the Canadian Hockey League playoffs now have their sights set on the ultimate prize as they prepare for the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, beginning Friday in Halifax.
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect and Prince Albert Raiders netminder Ian Scott took home the Western Hockey League’s Playoff MVP honours after he wrapped up the postseason with 16 wins in 23 games, alongside a miniscule 1.96 goals-against average and rock solid .925 save percentage. Along the way, Scott also posted five shutouts, including a pair of perfect games in the Ed Chynoweth Cup Final versus the Western Conference champion Vancouver Giants.
“It’s obviously great to be recognized like that, but in the playoffs, it’s a team effort, a team win, and I wouldn’t be standing here today without all the guys in the locker room,” Scott told the WHL following Game 7’s 3-2 overtime victory. “They’re my brothers and we’ve been through a lot together.”
The MVP recognition is the latest accolade for Scott, who was a three-time recipient of Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week honours in 2018-19, including once in the postseason, while in April he also claimed the WHL Vaughn Goaltender of the Month award. The up-and-comer was undoubtedly a major factor in Prince Albert claiming the Ed Chynoweth Cup for the first time in 34 years, while the Raiders will also now try for their first CHL title since 1985.
In the QMJHL, New York Islanders first-round pick Noah Dobson took home the Guy Lafleur Trophy, becoming only the fifth blue-liner to do so in league history and the first since Ottawa Senators defenceman Thomas Chabot did so with the Saint John Sea Dogs in 2017.
Across 20 playoff appearances, Dobson collected eight goals and 21 assists for 29 points to finish tied for second in team scoring. Overall, Dobson ranked third in league-wide scoring and tops among all rearguards. Dobson’s impressive postseason performance comes on the heels of a 2018-19 campaign split between the Acadie-Bathurst Titan and the Huskies, as he finished the year with 52 points in 56 games. In capturing the President’s Cup – Rouyn-Noranda’s second in the past four years – it also marks back-to-back league titles for Dobson, who hoisted it last season with the Titan before going on to win the Memorial Cup.
“You don’t get to win championships very often so I’m pretty fortunate to have the opportunity to win in back-to-back years,” Dobson told Willy Palov of The Chronicle Herald. “Hats off to (head coach and general manager) Mario (Pouliot) for going out and making a trade for me. I was really happy to join this organization.”
Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki was the winner of the Wayne Gretzky ’99’ Award, in recognition of his MVP performance in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs after he led the Guelph Storm to three consecutive series comebacks, including the team’s six-game series win over the first-place Ottawa 67’s in the J. Ross Robertson Cup Final to help Guelph capture its second OHL title in the past six seasons.
Originally selected 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, Suzuki recorded 16 goals and 26 assists for 42 points to not only lead his team and the league in playoff scoring, but he also set a Storm franchise record for points in a postseason. Added from the Owen Sound Attack at this year’s trade deadline, Suzuki was an immediate fit with his new club, putting up 12 goals and 37 assists in 29 contests to bring his season total to 94 points in only 59 appearances. With an OHL title now in hand, Suzuki will aim to help Guelph capture its first Memorial Cup championship.
“It’s just been unbelievable for me coming here,” Suzuki told the OHL following a series-deciding 8-3 win in Game 6. “This was the goal when I was traded here and just to have this happen is unbelievable. I couldn’t have done it with a better group of guys.”
Joining the Raiders, Huskies, and Storm in the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia is the hosting Halifax Mooseheads, with tournament play set to begin Friday in the Nova Scotia capital.