Marco Rossi and Jack Quinn have some unfinished business with the Ottawa 67's.
Ottawa led the Ontario Hockey League with a 50-win regular season in 2018-19, then won 14 straight playoff games to move two victories away from the Memorial Cup. But, after being up 2-0 in the OHL final, Ottawa would go on to lose four straight against the eventual champion Guelph Storm, ending the season prematurely for a team that seemed destined for a championship.
"Last year was really disappointing, it was really tough. I sometimes still think about how we should have won," Rossi said. "This year we are younger kids but we have a really good chance again."
Despite losing some talented veterans in the summer, Ottawa is right back atop the OHL standings a third of the way into the season, and is currently ranked No. 3 in the 60-team Canadian Hockey League.
The club is riding a seven-game win streak and Rossi and Quinn, both 18, are a major reason for the early success in 2019-20.
"Obviously you get that close and come up short it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth so we want another crack at that challenge," Quinn said.
"The team we had last year, the guys we had on the team and playing in those playoff games, you get that experience and learn a lot of things."
Rossi, a left-handed centre, and Quinn, a right-handed winger, were rookies last time around. But this season they are playing leading roles with the 67's, which bodes well for them in their NHL draft year.
The OHL recently had nine players listed as a Grade A prospects for June's NHL Draft. Rossi and Quinn both made the list, making Ottawa the only club with two high-end draft prospects on its roster.
Rossi, who is from Austria, leads the 67's with 16 goals and 49 points in 21 games, while Quinn, a Cobden, Ont., native has 14 goals and 29 points in 26 games.
Both players shrug off draft questions, saying their focus this year is on winning the J. Ross Robertson Cup, then moving onto the Memorial Cup being held in Kelowna, B.C., in late May.
"No pressure early in the year so I don't think it means anything," Quinn said about the recent draft rankings. "It's nice to get some recognition but other than that I don't think it means anything."
Rossi, five-foot-nine and 187 pounds, was born in Austria, where his father Michael spent 20 years as a pro. By the age of 10 was playing in nearby Switzerland. He always went against older kids in Europe and even spent a year in the Swiss pro league at 16 before making the trek to Canada, something he always wanted to do.
"I always wanted to learn Canadian hockey," Rossi said, citing differences such as rink size and physicality. "When I was 14 I watched a lot of hockey highlights of NHL and I became a fan of it."
Rossi says what has made him successful up to this point is his hockey IQ, playmaking and working to be a two-way player. During Ottawa's seven-game win streak, he's produced 10 goals and 21 points to move into fifth in league scoring.
"When I played pro I realized how important it was to play in our zone," Rossi said about being more than a scoring threat. "I try to be a complete player."
Quinn, six-foot-one and 179 pounds, considers himself an offensive winger who thinks the game well and can make plays. He also doesn't shy away from the physical side of hockey and will drop the gloves if needed.
"I like to play with a bit of an edge sometimes. I like to play hard," Quinn said.
Rossi and Quinn both feel that team success will carry over come draft time and that winning a championship with Ottawa is just as important as individual accomplishments.
"We're gonna make a run for it as a team," Quinn said. "Obviously we want to finish what we didn't last year."
This report was first published on December 5, 2019.