2022 centennial pickering panthers

Road to the 2022 Centennial Cup: Pickering Panthers

Less than four days after wrapping up their first-ever league title, the OJHL champions are right back into the fight at Canada’s National Junior A Championship

Jason La Rose
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May 18, 2022
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Out of the frying pan, into the fire.

The Pickering Panthers will step onto the ice for the opening game of the 2022 Centennial Cup, presented by Tim Hortons, on Thursday afternoon, just 88 hours after they claimed the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) title.

While other teams have had plenty of time to heal up and prepare for Canada’s National Junior A Championship – the Red Lake Miners haven’t played since winning the SIJHL crown on April 30 – the Panthers had just three days to get ready, including a full day of travel to Estevan on Tuesday.

Pickering head coach and general manager Rob Pearson doesn’t see that as a negative.

“You can look at it both ways,” he says. “If you're going to sit for two, three, four weeks and be waiting, sometimes you're a little rusty. When you just win a series and you [only] have a couple days rest with a little travel, hopefully you can just keep the momentum running and keep it going.”

There’s no argument that the Panthers are battle-tested, due in large part to the OJHL’s condensed playoff format, where a single subpar performance in the first two rounds could quickly put a team on the brink of elimination.

Before they were pushed to seven games by the Toronto Jr. Canadiens in the OJHL final, the Panthers had made quick work of their postseason opponents – they swept Stouffville and Collingwood in best-of-three series and took out Milton in three straight in the semifinals.

That unbeaten run came to a quick stop against the Jr. Canadiens, who started the final series with consecutive wins and took a 3-0 lead less than nine minutes into Game 3.

But the Panthers refused to roll over, getting even by the 3:41 mark of the second period and earning an all-important victory when Lucas Rowe scored with 13 seconds to go in the middle frame.

Pickering evened the series with a 4-0 win in Game 4, backstopped by a 37-save shutout from Zachary Roy, before the teams traded double-overtime victories to force a deciding game.

Game 7 went back and forth; Toronto led 1-0, Pickering led 2-1, Toronto led 3-2. With the game even at 3-3 and a third-consecutive overtime looming, 17-year-old Ryan Johnstone netted the biggest goal in Panthers history, scoring with 37.7 seconds remaining to send Pickering west to Estevan.

“Sometimes that little adversity helps, to be able to bounce back from that and to push through it,” Pearson says of the back-and-forth battle. “And the team was able to do that. They never quit, which was great. Doesn't matter what the score is in the first or second, they're fighting to the end.”

It’s the first national championship appearance for the Panthers, who are in search of the first title for an OJHL team since the Cobourg Cougars won on home ice in 2017.

Pickering opens its Centennial Cup schedule against the Superior International Junior Hockey League champions, the Red Lake Miners, on May 19.

HOW THEY GOT TO ESTEVAN

Ontario Junior Hockey League
Preliminary round: defeated Stouffville 2-0 (4-2, 6-5 OT)
Quarterfinal: defeated Collingwood 2-0 (2-1 OT, 3-0)
Semifinal: defeated Milton 3-0 (4-3, 3-1, 7-2)
OJHL championship: defeated Toronto Jr. Canadiens 4-3 (4-6, 1-4, 5-4, 4-0, 2-1 2OT, 4-5 2OT, 4-3)

REGULAR SEASON

Record (W-L-T-OTL): 39-12-2-1 (2nd in OJHL)
Goals for: 199 (7th in OJHL)
Goals against: 135 (4th in OJHL)
Power play: 27 for 172 (15.7% – 11th in OJHL)
Penalty killing: 170 of 189 (90.0% – 3rd in OJHL)
Longest winning streak: 9 (Feb. 19-March 8)
Top 3 scorers:
• Ian Martin – 27G 29A 56P (20th in OJHL)
• Lucas Rowe – 24G 31A 55P (22nd in OJHL)
• Brendan Tomilson – 14G 41A 55P (23rd in OJHL)

PLAYOFFS

Record: 11-3
Goals for: 53
Goals against: 37
Power play: 12 for 50 (24.0%)
Penalty killing: 47 of 54 (87.0%)
Top 3 scorers:
• Dustin Hutton – 8G 9A 17P
• Brendan Tomilson – 0G 17A 17P
• Ian Martin – 8G 7A 15P

NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY

First appearance

COMMITMENTS

Elijah Pilosof – Brown University (2022-23)
Zachary Roy – Nipissing University (2022-23)
Brendan Tomilson – York University (2022-23)

CJHL TOP 20 RANKINGS

Oct. 4 – 9th
Oct. 11 – not ranked
Oct. 18 – not ranked
Oct. 25 – not ranked
Nov. 1 – not ranked
Nov. 8 – not ranked
Nov. 15 – not ranked
Nov. 22 – 17th
Nov. 29 – Honourable Mention
Dec. 6 – 18th
Dec. 13 – Honourable Mention
Dec. 20 – Honourable Mention
Feb. 7 – 20th
Feb. 14 – 16th
Feb. 21 – 16th
Feb. 28 – 16th
March 7 – 13th
March 14 – 14th
March 21 – 15th

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

[email protected] 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

[email protected]

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

[email protected]

Videos
Photos
2022 IPH: USA 4 – CAN 0 (Gold)
Canada takes home silver after being shut out in the IPH Cup final.
2022 IPH: CAN 4 – CZE 1 (Semifinal)
Dominic Cozzolino scored twice to lead Canada to the IPH Cup Final.
2022 IPH: USA 8 – CAN 2 (Preliminary)
Jacobs-Webb and Hickey had power play goals in Canada’s prelim finale.
2022 IPH: CAN 5 – IPH 2 (Preliminary)
Cozzolino had a four-point game as Canada defeated Team IPH on Sunday.
Schedule