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 Ontario Hockey League

Bulldogs' O'Brien Claims Emms Family Award as OHL Rookie of the Year

April 19, 2024 - Ontario Hockey League (OHL) News Release

Toronto, Ont. - The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Brantford Bulldogs forward Jake O'Brien is the 2023-24 recipient of the Emms Family Award, presented annually to the OHL Rookie of the Year as voted by the league's General Managers.

O'Brien led OHL rookies with 51 assists and 64 points over 61 games, surpassing Matthew Strome and Arthur Kaliyev to set a pair of new Bulldogs all-time rookie marks. His 51 assists are the most by an OHL rookie in his first year of eligibility since Sarnia's Alex Galchenyuk registered 52 in 2010-11.

"It's an honour to be voted OHL Rookie of the Year. This award symbolizes an incredible amount of work put in and support to make the transition from AAA to the OHL," said O'Brien. "I want to say thank you to my coaches for their guidance and belief in me and to my teammates for pushing me to be a better player every day.

"I also want to thank my family for their constant support and encouragement. This accomplishment wouldn't have been possible without them."

O'Brien's impressive season also saw him lead OHL rookies in power play goals (8), power play assists (19) and game-winning goals (4). Additionally, O'Brien was the East Division Academic Player of the Month in January after being the league's Rookie of the Month in December.

"Jake has more than exceeded expectations as a 16-year-old rookie," said Bulldogs Head Coach Jay McKee. "While his amazing point production stands out, his strengths go well beyond the goals and assists he earned this season. Jake's commitment to a two-way game, his compete level and the leadership qualities he has shown are well beyond his years."

A 6-foot-1, 165Ib. centreman from Toronto, Ont., O'Brien was chosen by the Bulldogs with their first round (8th overall) pick in the 2023 OHL Priority Selection after he guided the Toronto Jr. Canadiens to an OHL Cup championship, being named tournament MVP following a 17-point (7-10- 17) output over seven games. He competed in the 2023 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in November, representing Canada Red. O'Brien will be eligible for the 2025 NHL Draft.

O'Brien is the first player in Bulldogs history to win the award. He follows other recent winners in Saginaw Spirit forward Michael Misa (2022-23), Guelph Storm defenceman Cam Allen (2021-22) and Kingston Frontenacs forward Shane Wright (2019-20).

The Emms Family Award was donated by Leighton "Hap" Emms, former owner of the Barrie, Niagara Falls and St. Catharines OHL franchises. The award is selected by all 20 member team General Managers. Teams were asked to submit only one nominee from their own club for consideration on the ballot and were not permitted to vote for the player from their own hockey club.

O'Brien finished as the front-runner in the award voting process followed by goaltender Carter George of the Owen Sound Attack who placed second.

O'Brien is the OHL's nominee for the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award, presented at the CHL Awards Ceremony happening at the 2024 Memorial Cup presented by Dow that takes place from May 24th through June 2nd in Saginaw, Michigan. O'Brien will be formally presented with the Emms Family Award at the OHL's Awards Ceremony on Wednesday, June 12th at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

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