Mackenzie Blackwood is officially the cream of the OHL's goaltending crop.
The Devils' prospect has been named the 2015-16 recipient of the OHL's Goaltender of the Year award, the Ontario Hockey League announced today.
Blackwood played in 43 games this season posting a record of 28-13-0-0 with three shutouts along with a goals-against-average of 2.72. He also tied for the league lead with a .921 save percentage while backstopping the Barrie Colts to their second straight Central Division title.
"It is an honor to receive this award considering the amount of great goalies throughout the league,” said Blackwood. “I would like to thank my teammates who battled in front of me all year, my coaches for helping me develop into the player I am today, and the whole Barrie Colts organization for the great opportunities that they have allowed me to experience over the past three seasons."
The 19-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ontario, played three full seasons in Barrie and accumulated 84 career wins which ranks second in franchise history. Selected by the Devils in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft, Blackwood signed his entry-level contract with the club in December.
“This is a substantial accolade for Mackenzie; something that he worked hard to achieve over the past three seasons with the Colts,” said general manager Jason Ford. “He was a virtual unknown; off the radar when we drafted him in 2012, and he has worked on his game on and off the ice diligently to make himself a world class junior goaltender. As an organization we are extremely happy for him and it’s nice to see him honored this way.”
During the 2015-16 campaign Blackwood made at least 30 saves in 28 of his games including a season-high 49-save performance on March 4 in a 6-3 road win over the Niagara IceDogs. The 6-4 netminder earned Vaughn OHL Goaltender of the Month honors in November, and was recognized in the annual Eastern Conference Coaches Poll as the second Best Shootout Goalie, while tying for first in the Best Puck-Handling Goalie vote. This season Blackwood also competed for Team OHL in the CHL Canada Russia Series earning a 25-save shutout before representing Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The OHL Goaltender of the Year is awarded to the league's most outstanding goaltender as selected by OHL general managers. Teams were not permitted to vote for a goaltender from their own hockey club. Goaltenders received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.
Blackwood received 49 points in the voting process ahead of runner-up Devin Williams of the Erie Otters who finished with 47 voting points, followed by Carolina Hurricanes prospect Alex Nedeljkovic of the Niagara IceDogs who received 46 voting points.
The award was first presented in 1987-88 to Rick Tabaracci (Cornwall) with other notable winners including Manny Legace (Niagara Falls 1993), Ray Emery (Sault Ste. Marie 2002), and Steve Mason (London 2007).
Blackwood will be formally presented with the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award on Tuesday June 7 at the OHL Awards Ceremony held at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He is also the OHL’s nominee for CHL Goaltender of the Year to be announced on Saturday May 28 at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup in Red Deer.