In a season where junior hockey operators faced unique circumstances due to the lockout-delayed NHL season, perhaps it's fitting the OHL's top performer is Vince Trocheck, who had to change on fly midway through the year.
Cats have nine lives; the Florida Panthers centre-ice prospect led three during his player-of-the-year campaign. Veteran leading the young Saginaw Spirit by example in the first half of the season. Energy guy for gold-medal-winning Team USA at the world junior championship in far-flung Ufa, Russia over the New Year. Last but not least, offensive catalyst for the Plymouth Whalers while making a successful push to lead the Ontario league in both points (109) and plus-minus rating (+49) while leading Plymouth to the West Division title. That made the case for the 19-year-old centre to be a landslide winner in media balloting for the OHL's Red Tilson Trophy as the league's outstanding player. It is the second year in a row the honour has gone to a Florida prospect from the Pittsburgh region. London Knights goalie Michael Houser won in 2012.
"It's been hectic, it was a long season," said Trocheck on Thursday. "Starting off in Saginaw with the group of guys I've been with for three years. Going to world juniors in Russia and being able to have that experience, just being able to be on that team was a honour. To win a gold medal was an unbelievable experience helped me develop a lot. And then getting traded to Plymouth and having a new team for the first time in four years in the OHL.
"I didn't really know what to expect. That team welcomed me with open arms. Mike Vellucci was a great coach for me. All three teams I was on this year, Saginaw, USA and Plymouth, it helped me a lot."Read More »from OHL player of the year Vince Trocheck reflects on unique season