That’s how long the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights have gone without losing, and it’s a streak that’s not even going to have the opportunity to end any time soon. On Sunday afternoon the Knights capped off a season for the ages with a 3-2 overtime win over the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the championship game of the Mastercard Memorial Cup.
It was all the way back on April 1st when London last tasted defeat (a 4-3 overtime loss to the Owen Sound Attack in the first round of the OHL playoffs), but it turned out to be nothing but a cruel April Fool’s joke to every team that had the unenviable task of trying to stop them after that.
After finishing off Owen Sound the very next game the Knights swept a very good Kitchener Rangers team, then swept a powerhouse Erie Otters team that went 52-15-1 in the regular season, and finally also swept a red-hot Niagara IceDogs team to win the J. Ross Robertson Cup as the OHL champs.
Their season didn’t end there, however, as they were headed to Red Deer, Alberta next to take part in the 2016 Memorial Cup, facing off against the host Rebels, the Western Hockey League champion Brandon Wheat Kings and the QMJHL champion Huskies in the four-team tournament. London steamrolled their way to a perfect 3-0 record in the round-robin and, despite a passionate and impressive showing from the Huskies in the championship game, would not be denied a perfect finale to their magical run.
— . (@mikeFAIL) May 29, 2016
The Knights were led this year by one of the most dominating lines in recent junior hockey history. The trio of Mitch Marner, Christian Dvorak and Matthew Tkachuk absolutely torched opposing defenses all season long, with each player registering over 100 points during the regular season and then an average of two points per-game in both the OHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup. Those sorts of staggering offensive numbers are almost unheard of in hockey in this day and age.
While all three members of the line excelled in their own right it was the scintillating Marner, a Toronto Maple Leafs 2015 1st rounder, that was the linchpin, something that was widely recognized when it came time to dole out individual hardware:
– OHL MVP ✅
– OHL Playoff MVP ✅
– CHL MVP ✅
– Memorial Cup MVP ✅
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) May 29, 2016
London was led primarily by their top line, but their dominance unfortunately overshadowed the similarly strong and consistent play of a deep and talented supporting cast behind them during the streak, including, but not limited to, Olli Juolevi, Jacob Graves, Victor Mete, Cliff Pub, Max Jones, Aaron Berisha, J.J. Piccinich and Tyler Parsons.
Most incredible, however, is just how young overall the team’s core was. In a tournament that is usually owned by older junior-aged players it was some of London’s youngest names, many of whom that haven’t even been drafted yet, that were making huge impacts:
But don't be surprised if all of the following London Knights are top-60 picks:
— The Draft Analyst (@TheDraftAnalyst) May 30, 2016
There are certainly going to be a lot of Memorial Cup mentions once the weekend of the draft rolls around in late June.
But, for now, there will be much celebrating, in Red Deer, in London, and in the hearts of hockey fans everywhere that got the chance to witness something very, very special with the Knights’ incredible 2015-16 season.
Derek Neumeier primarily covers the Dallas Stars, but also other various topics related to the sport of hockey. A Journalism graduate of Mount Royal University, Derek also writes for Defending Big D, and has done previous work with the Edmonton Oilers as a communications intern and Hockey Canada as a freelance writer. You can follow him on Twitter at @Derek_N_NHL