Seen as a contender even before the season began, Erie Otters added on to what was already a very good team en route to winning the 2017 Ontario Hockey League championship.
The parts were in place with holdover standouts such as forwards Alex DeBrincat, Taylor Raddysh and Dylan Strome and defenseman Darren Raddysh.
But after three straight 50-win regular seasons and not an OHL title to show for it, Erie general manager Dave Brown knew he was going to have to add on to the Otters just to keep up with the Western Conference powerhouses that included the reigning Memorial Cup champion London Knights.
One by one, Brown brought in valuable pieces.
First came fourth-goalie Troy Timpano in a deal made with the Sudbury Wolves just before the start of the season.
Then, as the season progressed — and after Strome returned from a National Hockey League audition with the Arizona Coyotes — overage forward Warren Foegele arrived from the Kingston Frontenacs and Team Canada front-liner Anthony Cirelli was acquired from the Oshawa Generals, who he had led to the 2015 Memorial Cup crown.
Then, in late January — and four years after they had selected him in the 14th round of the 2013 OHL draft — the Otters finally convinced defenseman Owen Headrick to depart the Lake Superior State University Lakers and come to Erie.
The moves paid off as a fourth straight 50-win regular season finally cashed out to an OHL title for Brown, head coach Kris Knobluach and the Otters.
Timpano won 36 regular-season games and then overcame a few playoff hiccups to win 13 more as Erie posted a 16-6 record in upending the Sarnia Sting, the defending Mem Cup champs from London, Owen Sound Attack and Mississauga Steelheads to finally hoist that elusive OHL trophy.
Foegele and Cirelli proved to be awesome acquisitions.
Foegele followed up 16 goals, 16 assists, 32 points in 33 regular season games as an Otter with 13 goals, 13 assists, 26 points in 22 playoff outings.
Cirelli netted 12 goals, 18 assists, 30 points in 25 regular season games with Erie before tacking on 15 goals, 16 assists, 31 points in 22 playoff matches.
And Headrick rounded out the top 6 blueline brigade in Erie by scoring 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points in 26 regular season games and adding 4 more assists in 22 playoff contests.
To be sure, Erie was prepared to take another shot at OHL glory before the season began.
But the pickups that Brown delivered as GM put the finishing touches on what finally became an OHL championship season in Erie.
PHOTO: Regular season and playoffs included, Troy Timpano won 49 games for Erie over the course of the 2016-2017 campaign. (Photo by Matt Mead.)