London left wing Matthew Tkachuk and Erie right wing Alexander DeBrincat, each projected to be selected early in the 2016 NHL Draft, each had hat tricks in Game 1 of the Ontario Hockey League Western Conference Final at Erie Insurance Arena on Wednesday.
Tkachuk (6-foot-1, 200 pounds), No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, scored his second goal 43 seconds into the second period to give London a 5-1 lead of an eventual 7-4 victory. Tkachuk, who was named third star of the game, ranks second in the OHL playoffs with 13 goals and 26 points in 11 games. He had 30 goals and 107 points in 57 regular-season games in his first season with the Knights, and has two hat tricks in the playoffs.
DeBrincat, No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, was named second star of the game. His goal with 1:58 left in the second pulled Erie within 5-3. Erie's Taylor Raddysh, No. 36 on Central Scouting's final ranking, and Dylan Strome, who was selected No. 3 by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2015 draft, assisted on two of his three goals.
DeBrincat was called for two delay-of-game penalties less than four minutes after teammate Kyle Maksimovich, No. 103 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking, gave the Otters a 1-0 lead in the first. His second penalty led to the first of Tkachuk's three goals at 8:18 that gave London a 2-1 lead.
DeBrincat (5-7, 163) has eight goals and 19 points in 10 playoff games. Last season he skated on a line with Connor McDavid, chosen No. 1 by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 draft, and had 51 goals and 104 points as a rookie. He had 51 goals and 101 points in 2015-16.
London defenseman Olli Juolevi, No. 5 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking, had one goal and two assists. Christian Dvorak, selected in the second round (No. 58) by the Coyotes in the 2014 draft, was named first star of the game with two goals and three assists.
"You're just trying to work hard down there in the offensive zone and tire them out," Juolevi told the London Free Press. "Some weird things happen (on the road). Maybe we don't try to score so many (fancy) goals. Maybe there's not as much show-boating."
London's top line of Dvorak, Mitch Marner (selected fourth by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2015 draft) and Tkachuk scored six of the seven goals and had a combined 13 points. The Knights improved to 6-0 on the road in the playoffs and 8-0 when scoring four or more goals.
Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is in Erie on Sunday. The winner will play in the OHL championship against the survivor of the Eastern Conference Final between Barrie and Niagara.