OTTAWA– The Ottawa 67’s and San Jose Sharks have been on similar paths. While one organization may be junior and the professional, they share the common joy of competing in their respective postseasons. And since 2017, the Sharks have invested into young forward Sasha Chmelevski, drafting him and watching him develop with the 67’s. In Game 1 of the OHL Championship Series, Chmelevski was a star on the ice. He got the scoring going for Ottawa in the first period. He would eventually generate two goals, propelling the 67’s to a 7-2 victory over the Guelph Storm. Despite taking nine penalties, Chmelevski was ecstatic with his team’s ability to handle the pressure of playing in a Championship series.
“The best thing about this team is we always live in the present,” said Chmelevski after the game. “We did a good job responding to adversity. You don’t just win 13 games by accident.”
Chmelevski Has Showcased Offensive Abilities Since OHL Draft
Sasha Chmelevski isn’t your ordinary hockey story. He didn’t grow up in the snowy hills or frozen ponds of Canada. Instead, he was born in Huntington Beach, California, a place marked by sunny skies and surfing.
Growing up in California could present an obstacle to breaking into hockey. But not for Chmelevski. From early on, Sasha demonstrated tremendous ability to break out into the offensive zone. His stick handling and ability to control the puck are second to none, and from an early age, he showed an affinity to score goals. This is what attracted the Sarnia Sting to initially draft the young forward in the 2015 OHL Draft. But 29 games played with the Sting, Chmelevski struggled to adjust to the pace and physicality of the OHL. Only generating nine goals and eight assists, the Sting traded Chemlevski to the Ottawa 67’s.
A move that according to Sasha’s Father, Tal, made all the difference for the forward to become a prolific scorer in the league.
“Ah, Ottawa has been very good to us,” Tal said. “Sasha is having a blast here.”
Chmelevski Relishing Opportunity to Help Ottawa 67’s Win OHL Championship
It appears that the choice to draft Sasha Chmelevski has paid off for the San Jose Sharks. Last season, Chmelevski has a career-high 76 points for the 67’s (35 goals, 41 assists), earning him a chance to play six games for the Sharks’ AHL affiliate squad. This season was a mirror to last year, generating 35 goals and 40 assists in 56 games. Despite a slower start to the season, Ottawa 67’s coach Andre Tourigny has been impressed with Chmelevski’s development offensively and defensively.
“He’s not a fast starter, but this year he took over a little bit earlier,” said Tourigny. “It was in late November when he started getting the points like he is now.
“The big thing about Sasha is his best asset can be the worst enemy as well. His best asset, for me, is his competitiveness. You play ping pong with Sasha, and if he loses, he will want to fight. At the start of the year, he was pushing a lot to get points.”
When it has mattered most, Chmelevski has risen to the expectations. This postseason, where the Ottawa 67’s have gone a perfect 13-0 thus far, Sasha has eight goals and 17 assists in 23 games played. In Game 1 of the OHL Championship Series against the Storm, Chmelevski scored the game’s first goal and was an anchor on an Ottawa 67’s powerplay that generated four goals.
With his stellar play in the OHL Playoffs, Chmelevski will likely have a full-time role for the San Jose Sharks AHL team, the San Jose Barracuda. The San Jose Sharks are currently in the heart of the NHL Playoffs, looking to advance to their second Western Conference Final in four years. For Sasha Chmelevski, his sole focus is helping the Ottawa 67’s qualify to the CHL Memorial Cup in Halifax. And to emulate the performance of his current NHL team in the playoffs.