Oshawa Generals star named Ontario Hockey League top goalie

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Published April 24, 2024 at 8:56 am

Jacob Oster. Photo by OHL Images

Oshawa Generals workhorse and game-saver extraordinaire Jacob Oster has been named the Ontario Hockey League’s Jim Rutherford Trophy winner, awarded annually to the league’s Goaltender of the Year.

Oster, who excelled for the Generals under a big workload, leading the OHL with 35 wins while setting a new club mark with 3,569 minutes played in a single season while appearing in 60 of 68 games, posted sparkling numbers and an extra level of compete to earn the honour over London’s Michael Simpson, the 2023 winner.

Oster, who played behind a solid but mostly inexperienced blue line, posted a 2.82 goals-against average, a .905 save percentage and three shutouts and helped bring the Generals from a mid-December playoff bubble team to the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

“Obviously it’s a very big honour and something that wouldn’t be possible without the guys in front of me and the coaching staff helping me,” said Oster of the award. “This whole season has been a great ride and I’m proud to be surrounded by such an amazing organization to get to this point.”

Oshawa Generals goalie Jacob Oster: “Who needs a glove?” Photo Goodall Media

His 35 wins are the third-highest single season total in team history and the most since Ken Appleby won 38 in 2014-15. His 60 games played equal the club mark set by Peter Sidorkiewicz in 1982-83.

(Both those teams went to the Memorial Cup – with Appleby’s squad taking home the prize – and Oster already has his club halfway to that goal in this year’s playoffs.)

The 6’3” goaltender with the pro frame from Ottawa – the second goaltender in Oshawa Generals history to win the award, and the first to do so since Mike Fountain in 1991-92 – finished his season strong, winning his final 11 consecutive starts.

“This is a fantastic achievement for Jacob,” said Oshawa General Manager Roger Hunt. “Let’s face it, a team rides their hot goalie and we did that with Jacob.”

Photo Glenn Hendry

Hunt said goaltending coach Mike Parson, as well as understudy Noah Bender – who won a provincial Junior C championships last year – share in Oster’s success. “Mike’s technical expertise and Noah continuing to put pressure on Jacob to be at his best was a great formula.”

The Generals acquired Oster from the Guelph Storm in January 2023 and the 20-year-old, who is likely to be a prized free agent target by professional clubs this summer, has been a consistent presence in the Oshawa crease since.

Oster, with 68 career OHL regular season wins with six shutouts, was originally Guelph’s fifth round (92nd overall) pick in the 2020 OHL draft. Los Angeles gave him a look at their NHL training camp last fall.

The Jim Rutherford Trophy was first presented in 2019 in honour of former OHL goaltender, General Manager, Chairman of the Board and two-time Executive of the Year Jim Rutherford, who is currently the President of Hockey Operations of the Vancouver Canucks, Rutherford played 13 seasons as an NHL tender of the twines and was the architect behind Stanley Cup championships for the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November 2019.

The OHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award was first presented in 1988 to Rick Tabaracci (Cornwall), with current NHL goaltenders Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound 2013), Alex Nedeljkovic (Plymouth 2014), Mackenzie Blackwood (Barrie 2016), Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (Sudbury 2019) and Nico Daws (Guelph 2020) among the recipients.

Oster is the OHL’s nominee for the Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year Award, which will be presented at the CHL Awards Ceremony during the 2024 Memorial Cup next month in Saginaw, Michigan.

He will be formally presented with the Jim Rutherford Trophy at the OHL’s Awards Ceremony – along with his coach, Derek Laxdall, who was named Coach of the Year – on Wednesday, June 12 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

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