Perry likely choice as top OHLer

London Knights right-winger Corey Perry is the franchise career points leader. He also won the OHL...

London Knights right-winger Corey Perry is the franchise career points leader. He also won the OHL scoring race. (London Free Press/Mike Hensen)

JIM CRESSMAN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

Is there really anybody else?

It's expected that London Knights 19-year-old right-winger Corey Perry will be named the OHL's most outstanding player today.

The winner receives the Red Tilson Trophy.

The announcement will come during a morning news conference at the John Labatt Centre.

Perry, the franchise career scoring leader, won the OHL scoring title this season and will be only the fourth Knight to win the Tilson.

Dennis Maruk won in 1974-75, Dave Simpson in 1981-82 and Jason Allison in 1993-94.

Perry would also be the OHL's nominee for Canadian Hockey League player of the year, which Simpson and Allison both won.

But there's stiff competition this time. Rimouski Oceanic superstar Sidney Crosby, who won national honours last year at age 16, is again the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's nominee after winning the Quebec and CHL scoring titles for a second straight season.

The CHL player of the year will be announced May 24, at the Memorial Cup in London.

"I guess he has that wrapped right up," Perry said yesterday of Crosby. "He's an unbelievable player . . . and he's only 17 years old. Personally, I've seen him and he's pretty good."

Perry was a linemate of Crosby's on the Canadian team that won the world junior championship.

The Oceanic are in the Quebec league final, playing Halifax, and Perry welcomes the possibility of a head-to-head showdown with Crosby at the Memorial Cup.

The Knights open May 21 against the Quebec champion.

"That would be exciting for everybody here in London and they also had that 35-game unbeaten streak," Perry said of the Oceanic's streak, which overlapped the regular season and playoffs.

The Knights' 31-game unbeaten streak was at the beginning of the season and is recognized as the CHL record.

The Tilson trophy honours Albert (Red) Tilson, killed in the Second World War. He was the OHA scoring champion in 1942-43 with Oshawa.

The award is voted by media members who cover the league from a list of nominees submitted by their respective teams.

"It would cap off a pretty good season so far," Perry said of winning the Tilson.

During training camp, Perry said if you look after team goals first, the personal goals will follow naturally.

"This is an individual award, but I have to give an awful lot of credit to my teammates because without them, I don't think I would be where I am today," he said as the Knights are preparing to open the OHL final against the Ottawa 67's Friday at the John Labatt Centre.

Perry, an Anaheim Mighty Ducks first-round draft pick, said playing four seasons for Knights owners Dale and Mark Hunter is a blessing.

"The philosophy around here is you've got to go out and play every game as hard as the game before. You can't live in the past, you have to live in the future," he said of what the Hunters instill in their players. "You can just see what they accomplished and how far they went in their NHL careers."

Perry credits the ice time he received his first season.

"Dale teaches so much to the kids and he plays the kids a lot. Developing in this league is the main concern and that first year was so important."

Perry answered his critics with his play at the world juniors. Dale Hunter said what made Perry successful on the international stage, and in the OHL, is that he uses his teammates.

That's reflected by Perry's 83 assists this season. He also scored 47 goals.

"Look at the NHL and who wins the scoring race," Hunter said. "To win the scoring race you have got to rely on your teammates and you make everybody around you better.

"In the National Hockey League, the 50-goal scorers don't survive as long because up there you don't beat everyone one-on-one anymore. But you use your teammates and you have success."

Perry said it doesn't stop here. Next up is the winning the OHL championship, then the Memorial Cup.

"I want to make sure the team does well every game," he said. "There's been pressure on us all year and I guess the pressure keeps building. But we've battled through it and I don't think it's going to bother us too much.

"If there's no pressure, then you're not doing your job. You want to have that pressure each game."


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