Skip to main content


CHL Storylines: Cowan, Halttunen dominate in OHL Championship Series

Easton Cowan London Knights Easton Cowan - Kalvin Taylor/Goodall Media

The CHL Championship Series is over and for the first time ever, all three series ended in sweeps.

The London Knights, Drummondville Voltigeurs, and Moose Jaw Warriors will join host team Saginaw Spirit at the 2024 Memorial Cup Tournament.

With analysis from TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button, here are the top storylines out of the Championship Series.

The London Knights won their fifth J. Ross Robertson Cup Wednesday night after sweeping the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League Championship Series.

Leading the charge in the final were two outstanding performances from Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Easton Cowan and San Jose Sharks draft pick Kasper Halttunen.

Cowan was among the playoff scoring leaders entering the OHL Championship Series with seven goals and 19 points. He then took his game to another level against the Generals, going off for three goals and 15 points in the four-game sweep and recording three or more points in each game.

The 5-foot-10 winger finished the OHL playoff run as the scoring leader with 10 goals and 34 points to win the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the most valuable player in the playoffs.

“[Cowan] was unstoppable and dominated the game in every single area in the playoffs and championship round,” said Button. “His game elevated from the regular season through the playoffs and went higher in the championship. It’s a rare thing.”

Cowan won the Red Tilson Trophy as the regular season MVP after putting up a 36-game point streak to close out the regular season, registering 25 goals and 68 points during that span.

His point streak is the third longest in OHL history and longest since Windsor Spitfires forward Bill Bowler had a 41-game streak during the 1994-95 season.

A native of Mount Brydes, Ont., Cowan finished seventh in regular season scoring with 34 goals and 96 points and led the league with 14 shorthanded points.

Halttunen set a league record during the playoffs registering 17 goals in 18 games, the most by an import player. The 6-foot-3 winger was an offensive force in the final, recording eight goals and 12 points, including two hat tricks against Oshawa.

“Halttunen felt coming to play in London [from Finland] was his best move and when you can come in and play for one of the best dozen coaches in the world in Dale Hunter, it will help you become better regardless if you’re a top prospect or not,” said Button.
“Hunter helped Halttunen take his raw skills and apply them as part of his daily repertoire throughout the course of the season.”

The Helsinki, Finland native was drafted 26th overall by the Sharks in 2023 and is enjoying his first season in North America, scoring 32 goals and 61 points in 57 games for the Knights in the regular season.

This is London’s fifth appearance at the Memorial Cup, winning the tournament in 2005 and 2016. They have an opportunity to become the first OHL winner of the tournament since the Spitfires in 2017.

“Other than [Vsevolod] Komarov with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and [Owen] Beck with the [host team] Saginaw Spirit, no one else has the Memorial Cup experience that London has,” said Button. “They have prime time players, their goalie played in it last year, and Hunter has been there and done that.”

Voltigeurs suffocate the Drakkar

The Voltigeurs made quick work of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar to win their second Gilles-Courteau Trophy in franchise history and advance to the Memorial Cup.

Drummondville stifled the QMJHL regular season champion Drakkar, only allowing five goals and recording two shutouts in the four-game sweep.

“When you talk about a defence being a five-player effort, that’s what Drummondville did,” said Button. “The Volts were ready to take advantage of the Drakkar’s eagerness to make plays and then used their defence to create offensive opportunities.”

The Volitgeurs only allowed 182 goals in the regular season and had a plus-123 goal differential. They continued their excellence in the playoffs, allowing 37 goals through four rounds with a plus-46 goal differential.

They also led the league offensively, scoring 306 goals in the regular season despite not having a player in the top-16 in scoring.

Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Ethan Gauthier and forward Sam Oliver tied for the team lead in scoring with 71 points each in the regular season. Buffalo Sabres prospect Komarov led all QMJHL defencemen with 14 goals and 69 points and won the Emile Bouchard Trophy as defenceman of the year.

Gauthier finished tied for second in QMJHL playoff scoring with 14 goals and 25 points while Komarov won the Guy Lafleur Trophy as playoff MVP after recording five goals and 15 points. 

“When Komarov is on the ice, he controls the game from the backend,” said Button. “I’ve been so impressed with how much he learned from this time with Patrick Roy last year [while a member of the Quebec Remparts]. Roy showed him how to use those raw abilities to become an impact player.”

Baie-Comeau were dominant all regular season, leading the league with the fewest goals allowed at 163. They were third behind the Voltigeurs and Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in scoring with 290 goals

They cruised through the first three rounds of the playoffs, only losing one game before running into Drummondville in the final.

“I give Baie-Comeau credit because they recognized that the Voltigeurs were sitting back to use their defence to create offence in Game 1’s [5-0 loss],” said Button. In Game 2, they decided not to force the offence, but that’s exactly the type of game Drummondville was happy with and won 1-0 in overtime.

“The Drakkar was an offensive team that had trouble generating offence. They couldn’t find a way.”

This is Drummondville’s fourth appearance at the Memorial Cup, last participating in 2009. Their best finish at the tournament came in 1991 when they lost 5-1 in the final against the Spokane Chiefs in Quebec City.

QMJHL representatives have done well at the Memorial Cup in recent history, winning the last four championships, which is the longest streak since the tournament turned into a round-robin format in 1972.

Moose Jaw makes history with victory

The Moose Jaw Warriors made franchise history on Wednesday when they completed the sweep of the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League Championship Series to lift the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

Moose Jaw will now move onto the Memorial Cup for the first time in franchise history.

“The reason Moose Jaw beat Portland is because of Jagger Firkus, Denton Mateychuk, Brayden Yager, and Matthew Savoie,” said Button. “Portland couldn’t match the talent of the top four players on Moose Jaw.”

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect and team captain Mateychuk took home the WHL Playoff MVP after finishing second in playoff scoring with 11 goals and 30 points as a defenceman. The 5-foot-11 left-shot defenceman won the Bill Hunter Trophy as the league’s top defencemen in the regular season after putting up 17 goals and 75 points.

Moose Jaw had the top four scorers in the playoffs, led by Firkus with 14 goals and 32 points. The Seattle Kraken prospect was the WHL player of the year and won the scoring title in the regular season with 61 goals and 126 points.

While this is the Warriors’ first foray in the Memorial Cup, the city has had representation in 1945 and 1947 when the Moose Jaw Canucks were defeated in the final in each year.

“These communities take in kids and those kids become part of the fabric of the community,” said Button. “The players go to school with other kids their age, in people’s homes as billets, and when they achieve their goals, the communities are proud of them.

“They represent their city and it’s very significant when they have success.”

The WHL now only have three franchises to have never made a Memorial Cup appearance in the Everett Silvertips, Tri-City Americans, and Victoria Royals.

Moose Jaw looks to become the first WHL representative to win the Memorial Cup since the Edmonton Oil Kings in 2014.