The Leamington Flyers earned their first-ever Sutherland Cup with a win over the Stratford Warriors and did it in convincing fashion with a 4-0 victory in game seven on Stratford ice.
Despite the fierce competition on the ice, both teams have an incredible amount of regard for each other, and Flyers head coach Dale Mitchell says the series was a memorable one. “I’ve always respected that team. They’re the champions on their side for a reason and every game we played against them from the round-robin all the way until now, we played them nine times in less than a month. We knew they were never going to give up. It’s a great storyline and a great series for both clubs.”
Connor MacPherson scored a hat-trick in the deciding game 7 and was named the series Most Valuable Player after scoring 20 playoff goals. Twin brother Ryan led all teams in postseason points with 38. Mitchell says their leadership along with a solid supporting cast is why they are hoisting the trophy. “From day one last year as 16-year-olds coming in and maybe drafted late into the OHL, but they proved everybody wrong and got scholarships. Those kids worked tremendously hard away from the rink all summer.” He adds they were able to build a good core last season to bring into this year. “This was one of our goals. It doesn’t take two guys to win it. It’s all 20 men on the ice plus the extra guys.”
Mitchell says he’s grateful the Flyers gave him the opportunity to lead the team from behind the bench. “I want to thank the owners for giving me the opportunity last year to coach this young team and also to General Manger Justin Solcz. And obviously the great supporters of the Leamington Flyers who stood right behind us all season.” Mitchell adds the families of the players have also been a big part of the team’s championship season. “These families followed us all the way here, all the way to Hamilton when we were down with 10 minutes left. It was almost over. I am so proud of these guys. They get to share an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Fans Enjoyed the Playoffs
The average attendance for the final series reached 1724, the highest for a Sutherland Cup final since 2008. 10 years ago, when London defeated Cambridge, the average was 1225 for that seven-game series.
Attendance for all 114 GOJHL playoff games this season was just under 800, the best number since 2013 and forth highest average since 2008.
Thank you to all fans for supporting their favourite team!