(Amherst, NY) – Tyler Gjurich may have had junior experience elsewhere before entering his final year of junior eligibility in the 2013-13 season, but as a first-year player in the Ontario Junior Hockey League he was officially a ‘rookie’ in the league’s eyes.
Oh, what a rookie year he had.
The Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) today announced that Tyler Gjurich of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres has been named the recipient of the OJHL Rookie-of-the-Year Award.
After playing five games as an affiliate with the Jr. Sabres in 2009-10, Tyler Gjurich returned to the club after two seasons in the Empire Junior Hockey League (EJHL) as a member of the Springfield Jr. Pics to not only lead Buffalo, but the entire OJHL in scoring during his rookie OJHL season. He became the first member of the franchise to lead the league in scoring since Jeff Farkas accomplished the feat, leading the Metro Junior ‘A’ Hockey League in scoring with 112 points for the Niagara Scenic in 1995-96.
Gjurich jumped out to a quick start this season and would continue a dominant offensive performance throughout the 2012-13 season; leading the OJHL with 53 goals, the only player to reach the 50 goal milestone this season, 97 points and 4 shorthanded goals, while finishing second among all players with 9 game-winning goals. He would fail to record a point in just 11 games this season, while recording multiple points 30 times, including three, five point efforts. A key member of both Jr. Sabres’ special teams units, Gjurich finished seventh in the OJHL with 11 power play goals and ninth with 18 power play assists, to key the league’s fourth best unit with a 21.04% success rate. Counted on defensively as well, he would tally six shorthanded points and help kill off 89.92% of Buffalo’s penalties for the top ranked penalty killing unit in the league.
Perhaps more importantly, however; was the fact that the offensive dynamo notched 62 of his 97 points at even strength and his 53 goals represented more than 21% of the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 249 goals for this season, which also ranked first overall among all OJHL clubs. Gjurich’s impressive season was instrumental in securing the Buffalo Jr. Sabres the South-West Conference regular season title with a 38-12-5 record for 81 points, the franchise’s best finish since making the jump to the Metro league in 1995-96.
Other highlights of Gjurich’s impressive rookie campaign included being a member of the OJHL West Division All-Stars that competed at the 2012 Central Canada Cup All-Star Challenge held in Wellington, Ontario, as well as being named an OJHL 1st Team All-Star following the season. He was named the South-West Conference Gongshow Gear Player-of-the-Month for November, as well as runner-up in December, and confirmed his commitment to join the University of Maine Black Bears next season.