OSHAWA, Ont. — Ken Appleby made 30 saves and kept Connor McDavid off the scoresheet as the Oshawa Generals defeated the Erie Otters 6-2 on Friday to win their first Ontario Hockey League championship in 18 years.
Cole Cassels assisted on four goals, while power forwards Hunter Smith and Michael McCarron each had a goal and assist for the Generals, who claimed a record 13th J. Ross Robertson Cup before a sold-out crowd of 6,125 at the General Motors Centre.
Aidan Wallace, Bradley Latour, Matt Mistele and Sam Harding rounded out the offence for Oshawa, which took the best-of-seven final 4-1.
"I feel great for our guys, the core group of guys who have put their time in, and put up with a lot of me leaning on them hard, but certainly they’re rewarded tonight," said Generals head coach D.J. Smith, on the ice after the game.
"We were overlooked because a lot of teams scored more goals than us," Smith said of his team — the best defensive club in the OHL. "It’s tough to keep selling, it takes a lot of people to buy in to play defence like that."
Nick Betz and Darren Raddysh scored for the Otters.
Erie’s Devin Williams allowed four goals on 13 shots in 24:52 before being yanked. Daniel Dekoning stopped 12-of-13 shots in relief.
The Generals now advance to the 2015 Memorial Cup, along with the host Quebec Remparts, Rimouski Oceanic and Kelowna Rockets. The tournament goes from May 21-31.
For McDavid, the game likely marked the end of a brilliant junior career as he is expected to be selected first overall at this summer’s NHL Draft. The Edmonton Oilers currently own the top pick. Although limited to just one assist in three games in Oshawa, he finished the playoffs with 49 points — two shy of the record.
"I knew our guys were going to be able to shut him down all along," said Appleby. "We’ve got a great team. Lots of people underestimated us, but we never doubted ourselves once and we were able to get it done."
Generals captain Josh Brown, also a big part of the tandem that limited McDavid, was the first to hoist the Robertson Cup, and was thrilled to be able to do so before a packed house.
"In my overage year, going out like this in front of this crowd, in front of these fans, I can’t even describe it right now, honestly," he said. "It’s an unbelievable feeling."
The Otters struck first 12:24 into the game when Betz looked to be passing but instead found an opening and beat Appleby inside the post.
The Generals quickly tied the game, however, as Smith made his way around an Erie defenceman, moved in and wired a shot past Williams just 32 seconds later.
Harding put the Generals ahead, for good as it turned out, just 26 seconds into the second when he broke free and beat Williams high to the glove side.
The Generals used the power play to take control and drive Williams out before the second period was five minutes old, as McCarron and Mistele scored just under two minutes apart while on the man advantage.
Raddysh replied on an Otters power play at the midway mark of the second. Alex DeBrincat appeared to narrow the gap to one goal shortly after, but it was determined he directed the puck into the net with his hand.
Latour and Wallace, into an empty net, scored in the third period for Oshawa.
While the celebration continued on the ice, coach Smith said the job was far from over as the Generals now chase their fifth Memorial Cup, and first in 25 years.
"We came to win the Memorial Cup," he said. "This is great, we’ll celebrate this, but tomorrow morning when I get up, we’ve got a harder trophy to win."