March 25, 2005
O'Sullivan wants the cup
By TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun
Patrick O'Sullivan's trophy case is well-stocked but there's an open space for a team award that eluded the Mississauga IceDogs last spring. O'Sullivan, whose fine major junior career in all likelihood is in its final act, wants nothing more than to end it with an Ontario Hockey League championship.
"It's my last shot and I want to make it count," the IceDogs captain said. "We have a good opportunity to get to the Memorial Cup. Last year was so much fun (advancing to the OHL final, where Mississauga lost to the Guelph Storm)."
But O'Sullivan, who helped the U.S. win world junior gold in 2004 and was the Canadian Hockey League rookie of the year in 2001-02, is not looking past the St. Michael's Majors. The IceDogs play host to the Majors tonight at the Hershey Centre in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarter-final, in what should be a rough-and-tumble series.
"I'm not looking forward to playing in that rink," O'Sullivan said in reference to the small surface at St. Michael's Arena. "There's no time to do anything. It will be a long series."
Majors coach Bud Stefanski realizes his team will have its hands full with O'Sullivan.
"He can beat you in so many ways, whether it's off the rush with a smart pass," Stefanski said. "And he has changed the way he plays without the puck. He has really improved."
There's almost no chance O'Sullivan will be back with Mississauga as an overager next winter. He was fifth in league scoring with 90 points and never had less than 81 points in any of his four seasons. The North Carolina native has several options for next season if the NHL lockout has not ended. A draft pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2003 who has not signed with the NHL team, O'Sullivan could sign with the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. He also could hook up with another AHL club, head to Europe or consider the WHA if it's a go.
"There were times when I could have left, but in my second year we made the playoffs," O'Sullivan said. "I've seen this team at every stage along the way. I'm proud that I stayed."