After sweeping the first three rounds of the 2019 OHL Playoffs, New Jersey Devils prospect Mitchell Hoelscher and the Ottawa 67’s are just two wins from clinching the J. Ross Robertson Cup and putting themselves in contention for the Memorial Cup tournament.
Even more impressive, the 67’s have won an OHL-record 14 straight games during the playoffs before dropping Game 3 to the Guelph Storm on Monday night. In that stretch, Hoelscher has been crucial to his team’s success, netting six goals, seven assists and posting a remarkable plus-15 rating in 15 playoff games.
According to New Jersey Devils All-Access Reporter Amanda Stein, Ottawa 67’s head coach, Andre Tourigny has high praise for Hoelscher’s postseason play:
“We can really make a case that Hoelscher has been our best player since the start of the playoffs,” Tourigny told TSN Radio 1200 in Ottawa. “You have to look at the faceoffs, the key faceoff that he has to win, you have to look at his two-way play, you have to look at him on the [penalty kill] and how good he is. “You have to look at his line and if I’m not mistaken he’s one of the top plus/minus players in the playoffs so far,” he added on the broadcast.
“That’s a good reflection on his performance. He’s playing with a lot of intensity and a lot of urgency mentally and physically and he’s a hell of a player. You know, he had a tremendous beginning half of the season last year, and this year we knew that that was the kind of hockey he can [play].”
Originally drafted by the Devils in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Elora, ON native took a giant step forward in his development this season. He finished the regular season with a career-high 10 goals and 40 points with a plus-31 rating in 68 games. He also finished the regular season with a modest 53.7 faceoff percentage, the second best mark on his team for those with 800 or more faceoff attempts.
During the 2017-18 season, Hoelscher finished with just 28 points and a plus-1 rating in 67 games with the 67’s. His 10 goals and 18 assists led all Ottawa rookies in scoring.
Prior to being drafted in the third round (56th overall) in the 2016 Priority Selection of the OHL Draft, Hoelscher played Junior B for the Elmira Sugar Kings (GOJHL). In 42 regular season games, he recorded 19 goals and 22 assists. He went on to score 8 goals and 10 assists in 27 playoff games, helping the Sugar Kings capture the GOJHL Championship.
A year prior, he played midget hockey for the Waterloo Wolves, where he put up an impressive 19 goals and 22 assists in 33 games. Again, he came up big in the postseason, finding the back of the net 12 times while racking up 16 helpers in 12 games. Adding to his strong playoff resume, Hoelscher went on to add 3 goals and 2 assists in four OHL Cup games.
What Does the Future Hold for Hoelscher
More likely than not, Hoelscher will return to Ottawa for one more year of major junior in his final season of eligibility during the 2019-20 season. Devils general manager, Ray Shero and his player development coaches, Patrick Rissmiller and Eric Weinrich will likely be keeping a close eye on the young center. If all goes according to plan, Hoelscher will slide in
Aside from improving his offense, Hoelscher really developed his hockey IQ. Last season he showed signs of being a 200-foot player, making him reliable in all facets of the game. The Devils should hope this will continue to grow with more responsibility on his OHL team.
The Devils hold Hoeslcher’s rights until June 1, 2020, when he will be able to re-enter the NHL Draft if the Devils don’t sign him to an entry-level contract.
You can catch Mitchell Hoelscher and the Ottawa 67’s in Game 4 on Wednesday night as they take a 2-1 series lead into the Sleeman Center. Puck drop is scheduled for