Hockey Junior Leagues

HIGH ACHIEVERS: 3 Ottawa players nominated for OHL’s most-outstanding-player award

HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic

By Martin Cleary

Hockey enthusiasts will recognize the Hart Memorial Trophy as the award for the most valuable player in the NHL’s regular season.

The Ontario Hockey League version of that award is the Red Tilson Trophy, which honours the most outstanding player during the regular season in the 20-team league. The trophy was first presented in 1945 to honour Tilson, the 1942-43 Ontario Hockey Association scoring champion who died in Europe during the Second World War.

During the past 45 years, the Tilson Trophy has been presented nine times to seven different players representing the Ottawa 67’s.

There’s a chance a major junior hockey player with connections to Ottawa could win the award for the 2021-22 season as the OHL recently released its 20 nominees (one for each team) for the major award.

The Tilson Trophy is voted on by sportswriters and broadcasters who follow the various teams. Voters will select their top choice from the Eastern Conference and Western Conference nominees and the top two players will become finalists for the trophy.

Right-winger Vinzenz Rohrer of the 67’s, Hamilton Bulldogs centre Mason McTavish of Carp and Barrie Colts defenceman Brandt Clarke of Nepean have been selected by their teams for the OHL’s most-outstanding-player award.

If Rohrer is announced as the Tilson Trophy winner, he will follow in the footprints of 67’s grad Marco Rossi, who was the last winner in 2020.


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The Feldkirch, Austria, product was the top scorer for the 67’s this season with 25 goals and 23 assists for 48 points in 64 games. Eligible for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Rohrer also played two games for Austria at the world junior hockey championship and earned one assist before the annual tournament was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rohrer, who played his minor hockey in Switzerland, also has three assists in Ottawa’s first round of the OHL playoffs against the North Bay Battalion.

To use a baseball term, McTavish touched all the bases this hockey season, playing in the NHL, AHL, OHL, world junior championship and the Winter Olympic Games.

He started his season playing nine games for the Anaheim Ducks, which drafted him No. 3 in 2021, and recorded two goals and one assist. McTavish was sent down to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, where he had one goal and one assist in three games.

He returned to the Peterborough Petes, which is his original OHL team, and connected for six goals and one assist in five games. In early January, the Petes traded McTavish to the Hamilton Bulldogs for two forwards and six draft picks. For the Bulldogs, McTavish finished his regular season with 14 goals and 26 assists for 40 points in 24 games.

McTavish also had an impressive start for Canada at the world junior championship with three goals and two assists in two games before the tournament was postponed because of the pandemic. As the youngest player (19) on the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team at the Beijing Winter Olympics, McTavish played five games and had one assist.

In his second season with the Barrie Colts, defenceman Brandt Clarke was his team’s leading scorer with 11 goals and 48 assists for 59 points in 55 games and a plus/minus rating of +11. The Barrie captain was drafted eighth overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.

Clarke, who played his minor hockey in the Nepean Raiders, Ottawa Senators and Don Mills Flyers’ organizations, collected 38 points in 57 regular-season games (six goals and 32 assists) in his rookie season with the Colts in 2019-20. The 2020-21 OHL season was cancelled because of the pandemic.

At the 2019 Canada Winter Games, Clarke helped Ontario win the silver medal and registered two goals and six assists.

Before Rossi won the Tilson Trophy two years ago, six other Ottawa 67’s players won the OHL’s most-outstanding-player award: Corey Locke, 2003 and 2004; Brian Campbell, 1999; Alyn McCauley, 1996 and 1997; Andrew Cassels, 1988; Jim Fox, 1980; and Bobby Smith, 1978.

Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.

When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.

Martin can be reached by e-mail at martincleary51@gmail.com and on Twitter @martincleary.


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