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There are dominant lines, and then there are DOMINANT lines. That perfectly describes the line of Matthew Tkachuk, Christian Dvorak, and Mitch Marner as they helped the London Knights capture the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) Championship.
London’s trio has racked up insane numbers during these playoffs, as they have put up 119 points in 18 games. Yes, you read that right; this trio has put up 119 points in 18 games. Which is no coincidence as to why the Knights were able to set an OHL record of 13 consecutive playoff wins, therefore, allowing them to coast to a championship and clinching a spot in the Memorial Cup.
Now, let's dissect this line and I’ll start this off by giving the 411 on Christian Dvorak. The 20-year-old is the elder statesman of the line and was a second round pick of the Arizona Coyotes in 2014. The center of this line put up a whopping 121 points (52 goals and 69 assists) in only 59 games as he finished second in scoring in the OHL during the regular season. But his scoring touch didn’t stop there as he tallied 35 points in 18 playoff games.
“Work ethic and commitment have been staples of Dvorak's approach,” per Sarah McLellan of AZCentral. “No doubt he can be a dynamic presence in the offensive zone, but he also has the hockey IQ to be responsible in his own end.”
With each game that goes by and the ridiculous numbers he keeps putting up (he has crossed the 100 point mark these last two seasons), it shows that he has been much of a steal for the Coyotes. However, before he sets out to the valley of the sun, he’ll look to conclude his junior career by adding a Memorial Cup to his list of accomplishments.
Next, we have Matthew Tkachuk, a 2016 draft eligible prospect who has some NHL bloodlines, as his dad was former NHLer Keith Tkachuk. After forgoing the NCAA route, Tkachuk committed to London and in his first season with the Knights he wasted no time putting up numbers as he scored 107 points (30 goals and 77 assists) this past season. Like his linemates, Tkachuk’s scoring touch didn’t cool off in the playoffs as he put up 40 points (20 goals and 20 assist) in 18 playoff games.
With any son of a former athlete, there is always the question of, how much of his game did he get from his dad? In other words, does his play resemble anything to that of his father, and if you ask former NHLer Jeremy Roenick, who played against Tkachuk’s father and coached him at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game, they both share a lot of similarities.
"If you watch him, he plays a lot like Keith Tkachuk. He's not the fastest, but because of his hockey sense he puts himself in good position. That's engrained in his blood from dad,” according to Roenick, per Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com.
Tkachuk will look to put on a great performance at the Memorial Cup since there will be a lot of eyes on him as he’s projected to go in the top five in next month’s draft. A good performance can only solidify his ranking in the top five and cap off a year that saw him win an OHL championship, a trip to the Memorial Cup, and a possible top five selection.
Finally, we have the more dynamic player of the group in Mitch Marner, who put on a show during the regular season and the playoffs after the Toronto Maple Leafs sent him back to London.
The 4th overall selection in last year’s NHL draft looked like a guy on a mission, as he scored 116 points (39 goals and 77 assists) as he finished third in scoring in the OHL and was awarded the Red Tilson Trophy, awarded to the OHL’'s "Most Outstanding Player" during the regular season.
Marner took his game to another level during the playoffs as he put on a clinic with 44 points in 18 games, leading the OHL in scoring during the playoffs and was awarded the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award for Most Valuable Player in the playoffs.
“Mitch Marner is an elite talent. There’s no other way to put it,” said Craig Button of TSN on a radio interview. “You start to talk about talent, so you’ve got an elite talent, right? He’s a big-time competitor, and then you add in the third factor, which is that he’s exciting. That’s a hat trick of a player to me.”
Marner will look to add a Memorial Cup to his dominating season to go along with his two MVP’s and an OHL Championship, as he hopes that this past season and post-season will catapult him to landing a spot on the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. However, that will depend on what he does over the summer, and with the likes of Mike Babcock, Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello, nothing will be guaranteed. But with nothing else to prove in juniors, this summer will be crucial if Marner wants to make the Leafs.
Nonetheless, Marner's focus will be the task at hand as his linemates will help guide the London Knights to a Memorial Cup, and if you can catch a game during the action in Red Deer that features the Knights, just get ready for some fireworks. This line will knock you off your seat.