Cam Garvey celebrates the overtime goal that won the 2023 OJHL Nutrafarms Championship Series for the Collingwood Blues Friday. The Blues open the Centennial Cup national championship tournament May 11. (Photo by Ray MacAloney / OJHL Images)
Ron Valentine is profiling the 10 teams participating in the 2023 Centennial Cup in Portage la Prairie May 11-21.
Today: the OJHL champion Collingwood Blues.
By Ron Valentine
Representing the Ontario Junior Hockey League at the Centennial Cup 2003 edition will be the COLLINGWOOD BLUES. The Blues, ranked sixth in the country, finished the season with 89 points from 54 games in the North, second overall in the league. They scored 226 goals while allowing just half that number- 113.
A remarkable part of their regular season was that the club played 12 of 13 games on the road from October 7 to November 18 posting 10 wins in the process. The team played 11 of their last 13 games of the regular season at home winning 10, including their last six in a row,
In the postseason, the club went 16-2. In the opening round they beat the Stouffville Spirit in four straight. They put aside the Milton Menace in Round 2, again in the minimum number. Next up they topped the Burlington Cougars in five and in the Nutrafarms Championship Series it also took them five to get past the Trenton Golden Hawks to hoist the Buckland Cup.
The Blues, then known as the Colts, made their OJHL debut in the 2019-20 season following the transfer of the franchise from KIngston and finished a creditable second in the North division just four points behind the Pickering Panthers. Before COVID-19 put an end to the playoffs they lost their first-round matchup in seven games to Stouffville.
In the 2021-22 campaign they once again finished in second spot behind the eventual Buckland Cup winning Panthers. In the postseason in the shortened playoff series they were swept in three straight games in Round 2 by Pickering after getting past the Aurora Tigers.
The Blues play out of the venerable Eddie Bush Memorial Arena in beautiful downtown Collingwood. They finished second in OJHL average attendance in both the regular and postseason.
OJHL clubs were national champions in 2017 (Cobourg Cougars), 2004 (Aurora Tigers) and 2007 (Aurora). The Pickering Panthers finished runners-up last season, as did the Wellington Dukes in 2018.
In the regular 2022-23 season, captain Cam Garvey, an NCAA Division 1 Robert Morris commit, led the club’s point scorers with 64, including a club high of 38 goals. Mark McIntosh had 50 points with Ikki Kogawa on 48 and blueliner Robbie Strachan at 46. Bryce Sutherland had 25 in 22 games after being acquired from the St. Michael’s Buzzers, his overall total was 69. In the playoffs, Rockwood native Dylan Hudon led the way with 21 points, followed by Mark McIntosh and blueliner Ayden Dooley with 18. Luke Tchor, like Garvey, a former Oakville Blade and Sutherland chipped in with 17.
Goalkeeping was a strong point for the Blues with Noah Pak, a Yale commit, posting a goals against average of 2.01 in 38 games with five shutouts, Justin Molinaro made 20 appearances and had a GAA of 2.15. In the playoffs, Pak played all the minutes and had a stingy 1.37 GAA.
Head coach Andrew Campoli started his OJHL career behind the bench with the Markham Royals as assistant coach and next season was co-coach in Stouffville. During the 2021-22 campaign, he was promoted to his current position from associate coach with the Blues.
Andrew eagerly awaits the Cup: “We are really excited to be representing the OJHL at the Centennial Cup. Going into the playoffs our focus as a team was staying true to what made us successful throughout the season. Although we tweaked our game plan going into each series our mindset was simple: work hard, do our job, control what we could control and be hungry for pucks. We had a number of players step up for us in the postseason and we had an incredible performance from OJHL playoff MVP Noah Pak.”
“Going to the Centennial Cup was our goal all year and we are very pleased to represent the town of Collingwood. Playing in a best-versus-best tournament it’s going to be all about capitalizing on our opportunities and sticking to our brand. It’s going to be an amazing experience for us all and we can’t wait to enjoy it.”
The Blues play their first game, the evening contest of opening day, May 11, against the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Steinbach Pistons.
For more on the Centennial Cup, go to the tournament website: https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/national-championships/men/national-junior-a/2023