Another OHL Championship added to Stillman family collection
The 1992-93 Peterborough Petes are widely considered to be one of the greatest editions of the OHL’s oldest continuously operating franchise.
Their roster boasted the two top scorers in team history: Mike Harding and Jason Dawe, and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Chris Pronger. Under the guidance of proven leaders in coaches Dick Todd and Jeff Twohey, the Petes entered the season well aware of what they were capable of as a team.
Looking to add the final piece to the puzzle, Peterborough traded to acquire Windsor Spitfires forward Cory Stillman at the beginning of the season. A sixth-overall pick of the Calgary Flames in the 1992 NHL Draft, Stillman was a local product. His arrival allowed the Petes to take a step forward into powerhouse territory.
Peterborough went on to defeat the Soo Greyhounds in five games in the 1993 OHL Championship Series, hoisting the J. Ross Robertson Cup in front of the maroon and white faithful at the Peterborough Memorial Centre.
Cory Stillman totalled 91 points across 79 games in the regular season and playoffs and scored the empty-net goal to seal the Petes 4-1 win in Game 5 of the finals.
Thirty years later, Stillman’s son Chase followed in his father’s footsteps, helping to deliver the J. Ross Robertson Cup to the PMC for the first time in 17 seasons on Sunday.
After his brother, Riley, won with Hamilton in 2018, Chase entered his final year in the OHL this season as the only member of his family whose name wasn’t on the trophy. His grandfather on his mother’s side is Bud Stefanski, who was an assistant coach for championship-winning teams in the 1997 Oshawa Generals and 2000 Barrie Colts.
“For sure, it was always in the back of my mind,” Chase explained, with a smile.
“There was a little bit of pressure on him, especially because he’s in his final season,” added Cory.
Like his dad, Chase was also acquired by the Petes in the hopes of winning an OHL championship – although under different circumstances.
The former NOHA Player of the Year enjoyed a fantastic rookie season with the Sudbury Wolves in 2019-20, tallying 13 goals and 34 points across 58 games. The cancellation of the 2020-21 OHL season meant he had to seek ice time overseas in Denmark, playing with the Esbjerg Energy U20 team. After being selected 29th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft, Chase was traded by Sudbury midway through last season as the Petes looked to retool their roster.
The move allowed Chase to move back home and reunited him with his minor hockey teammate, J.R. Avon.
Both Riley, a defenceman for the Buffalo Sabres, and Cory, an assistant coach with the Arizona Coyotes, obviously aren’t in Peterborough for most of the year. However, Chase playing in Peterborough made it easier for them to watch him play.
Being part of a third generation of OHL champions may have put some pressure on the youngest Stillman, but it also meant he had constant access to insight from three generations of knowledge. After his time coaching in the OHL, his grandfather spent half a decade as a scout with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Cory is one of few players in NHL history to win consecutive Stanley Cup Championships with different teams. Riley has carved out a regular role in the NHL as enters the prime of his career.
He says he’s in constant contact with his brother.
“I talk to him every day,” said the 25-year-old.
“Good days, bad days, we are in each other’s corner. I think that’s something important and something special for us to be that close.”
Both Cory and Riley, as well as the rest of the Stillman family, were able to attend the OHL Championship Series and watch Chase carry on the family tradition of lifting the J. Ross Robertson Cup.
Standing amongst the post-game celebrations on the ice after Game 6, the veteran winger described the feeling of lifting the trophy in front of the crowd at the PMC.
“It’s incredible,” said Chase.
“I grew up watching games here when I was 9-10 years old,” he added.
“To win in Peterborough is a whole different ball game – you have the fans that have supported you all year and your die-hard season ticket holders. It’s nice to finally bring a championship back to them – back to Peterborough.”
With his brother becoming the fourth member of the Stillman family to have his name engraved on the J. Ross Robertson Cup, Riley says the next generation of Stillmans might have some lofty expectations placed upon them.
“They’ve got big shoes to fill, but we’ll see,” he said, laughing.
“We got a bit of time here.”
Chase Stillman and the Peterborough Petes embark on the 2023 Memorial Cup presented by Kia on Saturday night in Kamloops, BC as they take on the WHL champion Seattle Thunderbirds at 6:00pm ET. See the game live on TSN.