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Marner captures Wayne Gretzky 99 Award

by Chris Lund / Toronto Maple Leafs



Maple Leafs prospect Mitchell Marner continued his dream 2015-16 season on Wednesday night as he was named the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award winner as the Ontario League's playoff MVP. His London Knights earned a 1-0 win on the road over the Niagara IceDogs to complete a four-game sweep and capture the J. Ross Robertson Trophy as OHL Champions.

The Knights won 13 straight playoff games en route to their OHL title win, having not lost since April 1 in their round one series against the Owen Sound Attack. London went 16-2 in the playoffs with both losses coming against Owen Sound in the first round.

JJ Piccinich, who was picked 103rd overall by the Leafs in 2014, contributed two goals and 12 points in 18 playoff games for London en route to their championship win.

Marner's efforts for the Knights in the playoffs can only be described as Herculean. In 18 playoff games he recorded 16 goals and 44 points to lead the OHL in playoff scoring. His point tally ranks as the sixth highest total in OHL playoff history and he finished his campaign with a 16-game point streak.

Among those all-time playoff leaders, only Rob Schremp (2005-06) and Connor McDavid (2014-15) had better playoff point-per-game totals than Marner's 2.44 with marks of 2.45 and 2.47 respectively. However, Marner is the only player of the three to win a title in his milestone season.

"We have a lot of special guys in this room and the guys they brought in, they wanted to win," said Marner, who also serves as a co-captain for the Knights. "You could tell as soon as soon as they got in the room they made an impact and they helped us out a lot in this stretch."

Earlier this month, Marner was named the Red Tilson Trophy winner as the OHL's Most Outstanding Player. By adding the Wayne Gretzy 99 Award to his trophy case, Marner becomes the fifth player since the 1998-99 season -- the year the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award was first awarded -- to capture both the Most Outstanding Player and the Playoff MVP. The player first to accomplish the feat was Brad Boyes, while McDavid most recently did it one year ago.

The Knights will now progress to the Memorial Cup as the OHL's representative. The tournament begins on May 19.

Prospect-watching Leafs fans can also keep an eye on the QMJHL Final between the Shawinigan Cataractes and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, which also involves a pair of Leafs prospects. Dmytro Timashov sits third in QMJHL playoff scoring for the Cataractes with 28 points in 20 games. He is opposed by fellow prospect Martins Dzierkals who leads rookies in playoff scoring with five goals and 15 points in 19 games for the Huskies.

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