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Erie's Raddysh brothers face different future after Memorial Cup

Darren, 21, seeks pro contract with junior career over; Taylor, 19, looks to make NHL as top prospect for Lightning

by Dave Hogg / Correspondent

WINDSOR, Ontario -- Darren and Taylor Raddysh, like the rest of the Erie Otters, understandably were crushed by their 4-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires in the Memorial Cup championship game at WFCU Centre on Sunday.

For the brothers, though, the pain went beyond losing a championship game.

Taylor is heading for training camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning in September, and if he doesn't make the team, he'll be back with Erie next season.

Darren, though, doesn't know what happens next. He was not selected in the NHL Draft, and with his junior career at an end, he needs someone to offer him a pro contract.

"There's nothing else I can do at this point," he said after the loss. "I think I've proven myself worthy of a pro contract, but it is out of my hands at this point."

Taylor can't imagine that his brother won't get an offer after the season he had.

"He has shown all year why he deserves to play pro hockey," he said. "He was the best defenseman at both ends of the ice for a team that won a league championship and made it to the final of the Memorial Cup. It seems obvious at this point."

Each brother was named to the tournament's all-star team after Darren was named the top defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League. He led OHL defensemen with 81 points (16 goals, 65 assists) in 62 games, then had 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) to help Erie win the OHL championship.

"I don't know how much more he can do," Erie coach Kris Knoblauch said. "I'm very surprised that he doesn't have a contract."

Even if Darren gets an offer, if it isn't with the Lightning, the brothers won't be playing for the same team any longer.

"It is really tough to realize that this is the end for us," Darren said. "I'll cherish the time we spent together in Erie for the rest of my life. Obviously, we wanted to win the Memorial Cup together, but we got to win the OHL championship. There aren't a lot of people who get that chance."

Though Darren, 21, faces an uncertain future, Taylor, 19, will have a chance to earn a spot in the NHL. He's been overshadowed in his three seasons with Erie, playing alongside Connor McDavid for one season and Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat for all three, but that didn't prevent him from becoming a top prospect.

After scoring 73 points (24 goals, 49 assists) in 67 games in 2015-16, Taylor Raddysh was selected in the second round (No. 58) of the 2016 draft by the Lightning. He spent training camp with Tampa Bay but was returned to Erie.

The exposure to the NHL helped, and he took a major step forward this season when he had 109 points (42 goals, 67 assists) in 58 games for Erie and helped Canada to a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.

He had 31 points (12 goals, 19 assists) in the OHL playoffs, then had 11 more (five goals, six assists) at the Memorial Cup.

"We had a great season, even if it didn't end the way we wanted," Taylor said.

The championship game was tied 3-3 entering the third period, when Erie outshot Windsor 11-5. However, Erie hit the post twice, and a defensive breakdown left Windsor's Aaron Luchuk alone in front for the winning goal at 5:07.

"I'm still in shock," Darren Raddysh said. "I was sure we would come through in the third period, but we had one defensive breakdown and we didn't get a break when we needed one."

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