The WHL playoffs are still ongoing but no Oilers prospects are on either the Vancouver Giants and Prince Albert Raiders, so we can officially call it with both Guelph Storm product Dmitri Samourkov and Halifax Moosehead, Ostap Safin being the Oilers only prospects still alive and vying for the Memorial Cup in Halifax beginning on Friday.
For Ostap Safin, the season has been mired with injuries and issues from the word go. He was traded in the offseason from Saint John to Halifax and, after his 58 point season as an 18-year-old, the sky was the limit with a team hosting the Memorial Cup. From the get-go, the injury bug established a firm grasp on Safin as he played two games in September, coming back in November for a stretch of eight games before once again hitting the sidelines. He would suit up for the Czech Republic at the World Juniors, netting five points in five games for his home country before falling prey to injury again. Safin wouldn’t see further game action until March. His struggles to get back to full health meant he would find himself pretty low on the depth chart and he never really found his way back, potting only two assists on the way to the Mooseheads eventual exit in the President Cup finals against Rouyn-Noranda.
Dmitri Samorukov (who Dustin Nielson wrote about just today) was able to turn it on when it mattered most and he and his Guelph Storm teammates ended up as the OHL champions because of it. Samorukov saw an eleven point jump in his regular-season totals as the Storm ended up fourth in the Western Conference. After soundly defeating the Kitchener Rangers 4-0 in the first round, the Storm lined up against the juggernaut London Knights (Evan Bouchard‘s team). The Storm found themselves down 3-0 to the Knights but would end up winning the series in London with Samorukov getting a goal and a helper in the deciding match. Next up was Ryan McLeod and his Saginaw Spirit, with Saginaw going up 2-0 in the series before splitting games three and four in Guelph. A hat trick from Dmitri to go along with four more assists and the Guelph Storm would overcome the 3-1 series deficit to go on to the OHL Championship game. There they would face the Ottawa 67s, a team who had yet to lose a game and would for the third straight time go down 2-0 in the series. The Storm wouldn’t be denied and would rattle off four straight wins of their own to take the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
Samorukov’s 28 points (10-18–28) are the most by a defenceman in the OHL Playoffs since Windsor’s Ryan Ellis (3-30–33) in 2010.
For Ostap Safin, a chance to come alive and push the host Mooseheads into the championship spot. For Dmitri Samorukov, an opportunity to continue to show the whole country what the Oilers found in him.
The tournament begins on Friday night as Safin’s host Mooseheads will play the WHL champions at 5 pm MT. Samorukov and the Storm will play Saturday at 1:30 pm MT against the QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
The rest of the schedule: