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Ratcliffe's magical season ends

Flyers prospect set to turn pro after successful junior career ends

by @nhlflyers

Isaac Ratcliffe's Ontario Hockey League champion Guelph Storm's magical postseason run was halted by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the Memorial Cup semifinal by a 6-4 score.  

In a losing cause, Ratcliffe scored two goals.

The first came as he joined a 2-on-1 counterattack, took a feed from linemate Mackenzie Entwhistle and wired the puck home from the left circle near the hash marks. The latter came during a desperate 6-on-5 push with Guelph trailing 5-3 late in the third period. Entwhistle fed the team captain for a slam dunk near the right post with 1:13 remaining. Guelph continued to push but the Huskies eventually claimed a turnover and scored an empty netter to seal the outcome.

Earlier this week, in Guelph's 5-2 win over the Western Hockey League champion Prince Albert Raiders, Ratcliffe took 1st Star honors with a goal and two assists. With his subsequent two goals in the semis, Ratcliffe finished the Memorial Cup with six points (3g-3a) in four games.

In order to reach the annual tournament to crown the champion of the entire Canadian Hockey League (CHL), the Storm completed one of the most remarkable playoff runs in the annals of the Ontario Hockey League. 

After winning their opening round series with ease in a four-game sweep of Kitchener, Guelph had to overcome series deficits of 3-0 (vs. London Knights), 3-1 (Saginaw Spirit) and 2-0 (Ottawa 67's) to win the championship. In the title-winning game on Sunday, the Storm trailed 2-0 at the first intermission before scoring five straight goals in the second period to seize control.

Ottawa, the league's top team in the regular season, swept each of their first three rounds of the playoffs before winning Games 1 and 2 at home against Guelph to start the postseason with a perfect 14-0 record. Undaunted, the Storm proceeded to win the next four games in a row.

Ratcliffe's final point totals for the 2018-19 season -- counting the OHL regular season -- were 69 goals and 47 assists for 116 points in 94 games played. Have a look below:


REGULAR SEASON (65 games played)

82 points: 50 goals, 32 assists


CHL vs. RUSSIA SERIES (1 game played)

1 goal


OHL PLAYOFFS (24 games played)

30 points: 15 goals, 15 assists


MEMORIAL CUP (4 games played)

6 points: 3 goals, 3 assists

The Storm's mid-season acquisition of top Montreal Canadiens prospect Suzuki was a huge boon to Ratcliffe's projection, and they developed almost instant chemistry. The line of Suzuki centering Ratcliffe and Entwhistle became one of the most potent trios in the Ontario League. 

Come next season, the now 20-year-old Ratcliffe will most likely be with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon is not entirely unfamiliar with Ratcliffe. The prospect spent two games with the Phantoms at the tail end of the 2017-18 regular season, scoring his first professional goal in his debut game on a deflection. 

Also, Ratcliffe could be on a line with his off-ice friend and now-former OHL rival Morgan Frost. 

The combination of Frost's outstanding ice vision and surgical passing ability and Ratcliffe's size and finish could make for a deadly duo if they can refine the elements of their respective junior games into polished professionals. 

Meanwhile, incoming rookie forward Joel Farabee may be the most well-rounded prospect of the three. 

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