ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE
The Ontario Hockey League has announced that forward Quinton Byfield of the Sudbury Wolves is the 2018-19 recipient of the Emms Family Award presented to the OHL’s Rookie of the Year.
Byfield joined the league as the first-overall pick in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection and finished third in rookie scoring with 61 points in 64 games, including 29 goals and 32 assists helping the Wolves win more than 40 games for the first time since the 1994-95 season.
“It’s super humbling,” Byfield said. “There’s a lot of good rookies this year that could have won it. I think a lot of them deserved it as well. I couldn’t have done it by myself and owe a lot to my coaches who put trust in me, gave me every opportunity to succeed, and put me in every situation. And my teammates, our off-ice chemistry was unbelievable. We had a very special group, we’re super tight, and that helped us on the ice and really helped me, too.
“My billet family, since day one, welcomed me into their family and they supported me along the way,” added Byfield. “To my Mom, Dad, Sister, Oma, they all believed in me, supported me, and sacrificed everything for me just so I could go play hockey. This is just really special for me and I’m really honoured.”
The Newmarket native, and graduate from the OMHA champion York-Simcoe Express, scored in his Wolves debut on Sept. 21, part of a two-point performance, the first of 16 multi-point games this season.
The 2020 NHL Draft prospect also represented Canada as an alternate captain at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in November.
He finished second overall in Wolves scoring and lit the lamp more than any other 16-year-old rookie to play for ‘the Pack’ in the last 20 years following Norm Milley’s 30 goals in 1996-97.
“For Quinton coming in, being the No. 1 pick after really wanting to be first overall, he’s done everything for us since the start of the season,” said Wolves head coach Cory Stillman, who won OHL Rookie of the Year honours himself as a member of the Windsor Spitfires in 1990-91. “He’s an extremely talented player and is a treat to come to the rink and watch every night.
“What makes Quinton special, to me, is how hard he plays in all areas of the game,” Stillman added. “He plays on the power play and on the penalty kill. He plays in the last minute if we’re up a goal or if we’re down a goal. I think the biggest thing with Quinton is that he’s only going to get better.”
Byfield is just the third Wolves player to win rookie of the year honours following Benoit Pouliot in 2004-05, and Pat Verbeek in 1981-82. He is also the ninth player to win after also earning the Jack Ferguson Award as the league’s first overall pick following Jeff O’Neill (Guelph 1992-93), Patrick O’Sullivan (Mississauga 2001-02), Rob Schremp (Mississauga 2002-03), John Tavares (Oshawa 2005-06), Aaron Ekblad (Barrie 2011-12), Connor McDavid (Erie 2012-13) — also from Newmarket — Travis Konecny (Ottawa 2013-14), and Ryan Merkley (Guelph 2016-17). Andrei Svechnikov of the Barrie Colts was last season’s recipient.
The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton “Hap” Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines OHL franchises. The award is selected by all 20 member club general managers. Teams were asked to submit only one nominee from their own club for consideration on the ballot and were not permitted to vote for the player from their own hockey club. Voting was conducted in two stages beginning with a Conference only vote, followed by a final ballot that included the top three candidates from the initial Conference phase. Players received five points for a first vote, three points for a second place vote, and one point for a third place vote.
Byfield earned 61 points in a very close voting process just one point ahead of Cole Perfetti of the Saginaw Spirit who finished with 60 voting points. Defenceman Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters finished in third place with 32 voting points.
All three players were also named to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team with Byfield at centre, Perfetti at left wing, and Jacob Perreault of the Sarnia Sting at right wing. Drysdale was voted on defence alongside NHL Draft prospect Vladislav Kolyachonok of the Flint Firebirds. Jet Greaves of the Barrie Colts was voted in goal. Second All-Rookie Team honours were awarded to forwards Marco Rossi of the Ottawa 67’s, Will Cuylle of the Windsor Spitfires, and Tyler Tullio of the Oshawa Generals. Ryan O’Rourke of the Soo Greyhounds and Daniil Chayka of the Guelph Storm were voted on defence, and Zachary Roy of the Hamilton Bulldogs was chosen in goal.
The OHL All-Rookie Teams were also selected by the OHL’s general managers. Players were voted on initially by position within their conference receiving five points for a first place vote, three for a second place vote, and one for a third. Top vote-getters in each position made up the final ballot that was then circulated to all 20 teams.
The Emms Family Award will be formally presented to Byfield at the OHL’s annual Awards Ceremony at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto Wednesday, June 5. He will be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Rookie of the Year to be announced at the Memorial Cup presented by Kia Saturday, May 25.
2018-19 OHL All-Rookie Teams (voting points in brackets):
Centre – Quinton Byfield, Sudbury Wolves (87)
Left Wing – Cole Perfetti, Saginaw Spirit (91)
Right Wing – Jacob Perreault, Sarnia Sting (89)
Defence – Jamie Drysdale, Erie Otters (95)
Defence – Vladislav Kolyachonok, Flint Firebirds (69)
Goaltender – Jet Greaves, Barrie Colts (58)
Centre – Marco Rossi, Ottawa 67’s (52)
Left Wing – Will Cuylle, Windsor Spitfires (52)
Right Wing – Tyler Tullio, Oshawa Generals (35)
Defence – Ryan O’Rourke, Soo Greyhounds (53)
Defence – Daniil Chayka, Guelph Storm (38)
Goaltender – Zachary Roy, Hamilton Bulldogs (39)