The approach of many teams in a championship game is to play it safe, cautiously tip-toeing through the first period. The Mississauga Reps and Toronto Young Nationals certainly didn’t get the memo heading into the 2017 OHL Cup powered by Under Armour Championship Final.
With guns blazing, the two teams went back and forth, trading chances and hits, with neither team able to grab a foothold early in the game. The Nats struck first midway through the first period, as Carter Schott’s shot was fortuitously tipped by Rory Graham, passing a helpless Ryan Dugas for an early 1-0 Nats lead. The score would remain that way heading into first intermission.
Both Dugas and Nats goalie Zach Roy provided timely saves throughout the tournament, and in the second, both tendies were called upon to continue their stellar play. Numerous high quality scoring chances were thwarted by the guardians of the cage, highlighted by an impressive two save sequence by Roy on a determined Tye McSorley at the goalmouth. The Reps got the spark they needed midway through the second courtesy of some hard work from the Petizian, Rees, Jamieson line. Establishing a strong cycle down low, Petizian circled the net, finding Jaimieson alone out front. A quick shot knotted the game at one.
The Reps got the spark they needed midway through the second courtesy of some hard work from the Petizian, Rees, Jamieson line. Establishing a strong cycle down low, Petizian circled the net, finding Jaimieson alone out front, and a quick shot knotted this game at one.
The Reps carried that momentum into the third, making quick work of a five on three. Lucas Rowe moved off the halfway before feeding Petizian in the slot, who unleashed a rocket top shelf, giving his team their first lead of the game. Frenetic action from the Nats ensued, and with 2:12 left in the period, Ethan Keppen found Brandon Coe out front to tie the game at two.
With the game looking destined for OT, Reps forward Dennis Govalatchev corralled the puck and wristed it home with 9 seconds left, immortalizing him in OHL Cup lore and giving the Reps their first ever title at the illustrious showcase.
“I’ve had some big goals this year, but that was by far the biggest goal,” said Govalatchev, who says the goal was a set play they have run all year. Govalatchev echoed what his coach told them between the second and third periods: that they in the Final for a reason, and this was their opportunity to show what they were made of.
Govalatchev may have provided the memorable moment, but it was Reps forward Mike Petizian who took home tournament MVP after accumulating 13 points in 7 games – coincidentally the same amount Sean Monahan had when he led the Rebels to victory in 2010.
“It’s a great statement, our game is evolving,” said Dave Branch, commissioner of the OHL when asked about the success of Petizian. “The emphasis and focus is on speed and skill, and that has allowed a whole different type of player to come in and play the game at the next level”.