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Isaac Ratcliffe, Guelph Storm advance to Memorial Cup

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The forward is looking for more than just a 50-goal season.

NHL: Preseason-New York Islanders at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

With a resounding 8-3 win over the Ottawa 67’s in yesterday’s Game 6 of the OHL Final, Philadelphia Flyers’ prospect Isaac Ratcliffe and the Guelph Storm have won the OHL Championship. The towering forward had a four-point performance, as he scored a pair of goals and had two assists (one primary) in the second period of the win. It’s the Storm’s fourth J. Ross Robertson Cup in team history and their second OHL title in six seasons. Ratcliffe and his teammates will represent the OHL in the Memorial Cup, which begins on May 17th.

Arizona Coyotes’ prospect Noel Hoefenmayer and Washington Capitals’ 2018 draft pick Kody Clark made it 2-0 Ottawa just 8:30 into the contest. This is where the score stood at the end of the first period, but Guelph produced five goals in the middle frame to make it 5-2 with a little over four minutes to play in the middle stanza. Ratcliffe tied the game at two on a great individual effort and gave the Storm a 3-2 lead on a power-play tally with a pair of goals in 6:57 in the middle of the second period. San Jose Sharks’ prospect Sasha Chmelevski made it a two-goal game with a little over a minute left in the second, but tallies from Edmonton Oilers’ prospect Dmitri Samorukov, undrafted over-ager Domenico Commisso, and 2019 draft-eligible center Keegan Stevenson put the game away for Guelph in the third period.

The Storm had one hell of a run to reach the Memorial Cup. After a sweep of the Kitchener Rangers in the opening round, Guelph overcame a 3-0 series deficit to beat the London Knights in seven games in the second before overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Saginaw Spirit in seven games during the third round. The Storm were also down 2-0 in the Final before they outscored the 67’s 24-12 to win the final four games of the series. They’ll now head to a Memorial Cup featuring the Halifax Mooseheads (the QMJHL club hosting the tournament), the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (who are representing the QMJHL as President’s Cup winners), and whoever wins tonight’s Game 7 in the WHL Final between the Vancouver Giants and Prince Albert Raiders.

As for Ratcliffe, he finished third in the OHL with 15 goals and third with 30 points in 24 playoff games. After he was one of just six players in the OHL and one of eight in the CHL to have a 50-goal regular season in 2018-19, Ratcliffe finished with 65 goals (and 112 points) in 89 games for the entire 2018-19 campaign. Ratcliffe also threw 261 shots on goal this past season, which put him in a tie for 11th across the OHL. On top of his points and shots, Ratcliffe had a rather undisciplined season in terms of penalties, as his 105 PIMs in the 2018-19 regular season were 40 more than his previous OHL high of 65 in 67 games back in 2016-17.

Former general manager Ron Hextall traded the 44th overall, 75th overall, and 108th overall (which was used to draft Hoefenmayer) to the Arizona Coyotes at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft to move up nine spots to take Ratcliffe 35th overall. A bit of a surprising move at the time, given how much he loved adding to his draft pick totals, but with each passing day it looks as though the Hextall’s gamble was well worth it. On top of his goal-scoring capabilities, the 6’6”, 203-pound forward was an alternate captain for Guelph in 2017-18 and was named the captain of the Storm in June. Ratcliffe will have a shot to make the team out of camp, but odds are he’ll be in Lehigh Valley with the Phantoms for the start of the 2019-20 season.