New York Islanders center Ryan Strome notched two points on Saturday in a 3-0 win over the Devils, earning him second star of the game honors. And as good as that was, his two younger brothers had even better finishes in the past few days.
Dylan Strome, a top-ranked 2015 draft prospect with the Ontario League's Erie Otters, won the OHL scoring crown thanks to a six-point outburst in the final game of the season on Sunday, giving him 129 points in 68 games. That landed him the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy.
And Monday night, youngest brother Matthew Strome nabbed some glory himself, scoring the overtime winner in the minor midget OHL Cup final to give his Toronto Marlboros the title over the rival Don Mills Flyers. The fact he did it with fellow center and lifelong pal Ryan McLeod was just icing on the cake.
"He's one of my best friends," Strome said. "I grew up with him and I’ve been playing hockey with him for 10 years now, so it’s amazing.”
McLeod's older brother Mikey won the OHL Cup last year with the Marlboros and was named MVP. In a nice bit of symmetry, Ryan was named MVP this time around and like Strome, has leaned on his older brothers (Matthew McLeod plays Jr. A and is headed to Canisius College next year) for advice.
“Just play your game and everything will come to you," he said. "Everything works out for a reason and just keep going.”
The Mississauga-raised Stromes and McLeods have been playing street hockey in the driveway and ice hockey together for a decade, so it will be strange for Matthew and Ryan to find themselves on opposite ends of the ice next year in the OHL after claiming a title together with the Marlboros this season.
“Yeah, very weird," McLeod said. "Playing against any of my teammates will make for great rivalries, though.”
McLeod, a dynamic 6-foot-1 center who protects the puck well, has a sick, sick, sick wrister that he used to pick a perfect corner for Toronto's first goal against Don Mills and he's expected to go top-five in the OHL draft this summer. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising to see him end up on the same Mississauga Steelheads squad that brother Mikey plays for.
Strome also has great size, coming in at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds already. He's physical, good on faceoffs and plays a solid two-way game. For most of the final, his line was in charge of shutting down Don Mills' most dangerous player, David Levin, and he did a great job. And like McLeod, he has benefitted a lot from his older brothers' experiences.
“It's huge," Strome said. "I watched them go through the whole thing. Both my brothers were in this (tournament) and then transitioned to the OHL. I know what to do now.”
Strome is seen as a late first-round pick this summer. There was a lot of talent on hand Monday night, so here are some other players that caught my eye.
David Levin, RW – Don Mills Flyers
Raised in Israel with Latvian roots, Levin is a fascinating global hockey story, having developed his game mostly through roller hockey as a kid. But watching him play, you just see talent. Levin has incredible hockey sense and anticipation, which he uses to swipe pucks from unsuspecting opponents or jump passing lanes. Offensively, the Marlboros could only shadow him so much and he set up the goal that sent the game to OT.
Jake Tortora, LW – Don Mills Flyers
Already committed to Boston College, the American Tortora is tiny at 5-foot-6 and 145 pounds. But before you think Johnny Gaudreau 2, recognize that there are some differences. While both are fast, Tortora has a lot more grit to his game and has no problem throwing hits or going through traffic. And I don't think it's an insult to say that Gaudreau has a higher offensive ceiling.
Mathew Woroniuk, G – Don Mills Flyers
The first plus on Woroniuk's resume is the 6-foot-3, 207-pound frame he possesses – that's NHL size already. But on top of that, he's a pretty good goaltender who made some incredible saves in a losing effort. Protects the top of the net well when he's down in his butterfly.
Elijah Roberts, D – Toronto Marlboros
It is a downright treat to watch Roberts skate – he's so fluid and fast. A prototypical modern offensive defenseman, Roberts is the Ryan Ellis/Jordan Subban type of guy that can be so deadly in the OHL. Along with his excellent skating and instincts, he also has a pretty wicked shot.
Quinton Hughes, D – Toronto Marlboros
Hughes is incredibly calm and poised with the puck, making him a very effective player. A dual citizen, Hughes is inspiring a great recruiting battle between Canada and the U.S. The University of Michigan commit actually went to Ann Arbor during the OHL Cup to try out for Team USA's National Team Development Program, but Hockey Canada wants him in Red and White – and the OHL. His father, Jim Hughes, is the Toronto Maple Leafs' director of player development.