Talk about a perfect fit. That certainly seems to be the case with Montreal Canadiens prospect and Guelph Storm centre Nick Suzuki.
Acquired from the Owen Sound Attack at this year’s deadline, his on-ice results with the Storm followed almost instantly, as after putting up 45 points in 30 appearances with the Attack, Suzuki’s proficiency climbed to nearly 1.7 points per game with his new club. He’s now carried that clip into the playoffs with a league-leading 31 points, nine more than the next highest scorer, and doing so in just 18 contests.
Following a four-game quarter-final sweep of the rival Kitchener Rangers, Suzuki’s efforts then helped the Storm heroically climb back from a pair of big-time series deficits, including a three-game hole versus the Western Conference-leading London Knights in which he netted 11 points in four elimination games and was later recognized with CHL Player of the Week honours.
That then led to Guelph storming back from a 3-1 disadvantage against the Saginaw Spirit, with Suzuki collecting another six points in three games to extend his squad’s playoff hopes and punch their ticket to the Rogers OHL Championship Series for the first time since 2014.
In advancing to the OHL Final, the Storm have their work cut out for them against an Ottawa 67’s squad that led the regular season with 106 points and became just the second team in league history to begin the playoffs with a perfect 12-0 showing. Still, the 67’s aren’t overlooking the surging Storm, particularly their most dangerous offensive player.
Asked what his team needs to be aware of when going head-to-head with the Storm, Ottawa 67’s head coach Andre Tourigny, this year’s recipient of the Matt Leyden Trophy as the OHL Coach of the Year, circled Suzuki’s name.
“It’s his IQ,” Tourigny told Ken Warren of the Ottawa Sun. “If you give him something, he will make the right decision. For us, it will be important to play him right (and to) be on the right side of the puck against him. It will be a good challenge.”
Tourigny speaks from experience, given he has had a front row seat to Suzuki’s formidable play a handful of times this season, including the combined six points he tallied versus the 67’s in two games with the Storm. There was also the hat-trick he notched versus the league leaders while with the Attack.
Should Suzuki and his teammates topple the 67’s to capture the J. Ross Robertson Cup and advance to the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia, it will punctuate an impressive OHL tenure in which he collected 328 points in 251 career games, and offer a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the budding talent to close out his four-year career by hoisting junior hockey’s holy grail.
The Storm advanced to the OHL Final and will compete against the Ottawa 67’s for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, with the winner advancing to the 2019 Memorial Cup presented by Kia. The OHL Final begins Thursday in Ottawa. For complete OHL playoff preview coverage, click here.