Every player dreams of scoring the goal that wins his team the championship.
London Knights center Bo Horvat got the rare experience of living that dream. It was one of many accomplishments for him this season that could lead to one more dream coming true June 30 at the 2013 NHL Draft.
Horvat, a 6-foot, 206-pound forward, had 33 goals -- including a team-best 17 on the power play -- and 61 points in 67 regular-season Ontario Hockey League games, and then scored a league-best 16 goals in the OHL playoffs.
It was the final goal, however, that Horvat and anyone that watched will remember.
It was Game 7 of the OHL Finals against the Barrie Colts. The game was tied as the final seconds of regulation ticked away.
"Griff [Seth Griffith] made a nice play to dump it in and get it in deep," Horvat told NHL.com in reliving the moment. "I think there was five seconds left when he did that. It came around to [Alex] Broadhurst and he got along the wall and just fired it out front as fast as he could. Fortunately it made a couple bounces and came right to me and all I had to do was put it in. Fortunately it crossed the line with 0.1 seconds left."
Referees initially waved the goal off, but then went to a replay review to make sure. Minutes passed as players waited for the result.
"That was probably the most nerve-wracking, however-long-it-took of my life," Horvat said. "Just the suspense. I thought for sure it was in, but I wasn't quite sure. The suspense and waiting for it was pretty nerve-wracking."
The wait paid off, as the review showed the puck crossed the line with one-tenth of a second left on the clock. The goal won the OHL title for London for a second-straight season and sent them back to the Memorial Cup.
"It was crazy," Horvat said. "You dream about those moments as a kid. You want to be that guy to score that big goal. Fortunately I had the lucky bounces enough to be that guy, and it's something I'll never forget."
Horvat had a lot of memorable moments this season, which saw him land at No. 15 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2013 NHL Draft.
"Bo has shown over the course of the season that he's the type of player that when the game is on the line and they need someone to come out with the big play, whether it's to preserve a win or generate a goal or a scoring chance, he's scored some really clutch goals and made some big-time plays," Central Scouting director Dan Marr told NHL.com.
While the goals he scored were nice, Horvat earned as many accolades for his prowess on faceoffs and defensive play.
"He's a great competitor," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He does everything you like to see. His penalty killing is very good, blocking shots. He's effective every shift. He does something every shift to contribute to a win. He's got good skill. He's got pretty good finish around the net. I love his competitiveness. … He's outstanding at winning faceoffs; he's one of the best faceoff guys in the whole draft."
Horvat said he's a big fan of Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards, and takes the most pride in his ability to play in areas of the ice.
"Definitely my two-way game," Horvat said of his biggest strengths. "Being out there in every key situation, winning big draws, killing penalties, working the power play -- those are kind of some of my key attributes."
His skill on faceoffs could be the thing that separates him from the rest of his draft class.
"He's outstanding at winning faceoffs," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He's one of the best faceoff guys in the whole draft."
Horvat's skill in the circle is one he's spent nearly his whole life on skates working on.
"I've been a centerman all my life," Horvat said. "My dad worked with me when I was little on draws and I really thrive on being good at draws. He really taught me the basics of it. [London coach] Dale Hunter has been a really big help for me; he's taken draws his whole life."
Hunter also has been a major influence on Horvat. With 19 seasons as an NHL player and one as an NHL coach, Horvat knows that when his coach talks, usually he's saying something important and beneficial.
"I think he's a heck of a coach," Horvat said "He's been to the NHL, he's coached in the NHL. He knows what it takes to get there. His advice that he gives me, and all the other players, it's really a big help for all of us. … He tells you if you're doing something wrong. He just gets the best out of you."
He's gotten a lot out of Horvat, who can expect to hear his name called early June 30 at Prudential Center, home of this year's draft.
"He's effective every shift," Edwards said. "He does something every shift to contribute to a win."
Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
Author: Adam Kimelman | NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor