OHL Alumni Classics: John Spoltore

john spoltore ohl alumni hockeyThis year, the hockey world lost one of its greats at just 38 years old. John Spoltore will live on as a legend in the Ontario Hockey League and especially in the East Coast Hockey League.

Spoltore played four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 1988-89 to 1991-92, all with the North Bay Centennials. His 342 career points is a team record. His 84 assists in his final season with the team is a franchise record. John led the Centennials in scoring in his last three seasons.

He exploded offensively in his final season in the OHL with 131 points on 47 goals and 84 assists in 61 regular season games. This total was good for fourth in the league. That year, Eric Lindros led the OHL with 164 points but Spoltore and the Centennials got their revenge on Lindros and the Generals by knocking them off 4-1 in the quarter finals. The Centennials went to the seventh game of the Robertson Cup before bowing out to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. John added another 41 points in 21 playoff games.

Spoltore would take home the hardware in that final OHL season. He was awarded the William Hanley Trophy as the league’s most sportsmanlike player. He also was honoured with the Leo Lalonde Memorial Trophy as the league’s top overage player.

Undrafted, John played three seasons in the Canadian university system with Laurier after graduating from the Ontario Hockey League.

Spoltore stormed into his professional hockey career with the Louisiana IceGators of the ECHL in 1995-96. As a rookie, he put up 101 points for Louisiana on 30 goals and 68 assists. The following season he only played nine regular season games but played 17, adding 23 points, in the IceGators run to the Kelly Cup Finals where they would ultimately bow out.

Here’s a list of John’s achievements in the ECHL (over only 6 seasons!):

  • Louisiana IceGators team leader in points three seasons in a row from 1996-97 to 1998-99.
  • League scoring leader in 1998-99 with 109 points.
  • League scoring leader in 1999-00 with 119 points.
  • 3rd all-time ECHL career assists leader with 390.
  • 17th all-time ECHL career points leader with 532 (1.56 per game).
  • 92 assists in 1999-00 is 2nd highest single season total in ECHL history (the record is 93).
  • ECHL’s highest assists per game average (min. 200 assists) with 1.15.
  • ECHL record for most 100 point seasons with 4.
  • Tied with the most consecutive 100 point seasons with 3.
  • Number 1 on the ECHL’s most career playoff assists list with 69.
  • ECHL record for most assists in one playoff season with 26 (1999-00 with Louisiana).
  • 2nd on the ECHL career playoff points list with 101.
  • ECHL record for most points in one playoff season with 34 (1999-00 with Louisiana).

Spoltore spent one season in the WCHL with the San Diego Gulls in 2001-02. Of course, he led his team in points with 113.

John spent five seasons in Germany from 2002-03 to 2005-06, playing in the 2.Bundesliga and the Oberliga (tier 2 and 3, below the DEL). In his first three seasons, he led his teams in scoring.

Spoltore returned for one more season of pro hockey in North America in 2006-07. He split his season between the Chicago Hounds and Bloomington PrairieThunder of the now-defunct UHL.

John’s battle with cancer is over, but there is an OHL grad with a daughter battling hard. Jeff Christian is playing for the Mississippi River Kings of the Central Hockey League. Jeff’s daughter Ryan is battling adrenocortical cancer. You can donate to the Ryan Christian Love Fund on-line at this website.

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