The Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League have advanced to the Western Conference final for the first time in eight seasons.
The Storm will play host to the Erie Otters in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series beginning Thursday. Not surprisingly, center Robert Fabbri, No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, has played a huge role for the Storm this season.
Fabbri was named the OHL Player of the Week for the playoff week ending April 13 after posting four goals, seven points and a plus-5 rating in three victories. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Fabbri helped lead the Storm to a five-game series win against the London Knights in the OHL's Western Conference semifinal with three multi-point performances last week.
He scored two goals and was named the game's first star in a 4-2 win on the road in Game 3 and had a goal and two assists and was named the game's third star in a 6-3 victory in Game 4. He then scored the game-tying goal and assisted on the winner by Scott Kosmachuk 16:24 into the second period to give his team a series-clinching 5-4 victory.
The Storm haven't celebrated an OHL championship since 2004.
Guelph captain Matt Finn, who was selected in second round (No. 35) of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs, knows just how important Fabbri has been.
"He's been a huge contributor to our team; huge key to our success by almost getting 50 goals this season," Finn said. "He's a second-year guy and his speed and playmaking ability just brings a lot of people and even teammates to their feet."
Fabbri has five goals, nine points and a plus-4 rating in six games for the Storm in the postseason. He had 45 goals, 87 points and a plus-45 rating in 58 regular-season games. He also led the team with 14 power-play goals.
"He worked very hard over the summer and you can tell in his game improved immensely," Finn said. "It's great having one 50-goal guy in [Scott] Kosmachuk [Winnipeg Jets, No. 70, 2012]. But it's also great having a 17-year-old who scored 45. I don't think we'd be in this position without him."