Tuesday night, scouts and fans flocked to the Kelowna Rockets’ home at Prospera Place in beautiful British Columbia to see Team Orr defeat Team Cherry 15-9 in the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skills competition. The top prospects playing in the Canadian Hockey League were showcased in the four event competition as these skilled hockey players mark their lasting impressions on the experts’ minds as the 2012 NHL Entry Draft nears.
Team Orr stated off hot as Rimouski Oceanic’s Francis Beauvillier skated to a time of 14.132 seconds to win the Fastest Skater event. The 6-foot-1 Beauvillier is currently ranked 62nd among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting and has put up 17 goals and 24 points over 51 games this season. Team Orr were successful in recording the best overall fastest time to take him the team fastest skater event as well.
WINNER: Francis Beauvillier (Rimouski Oceanic) – 14.132 (Team Orr)
Team Orr Participants: Lukas Sutter (Saskatoon Blades) – 15.032, Branden Troock (Seattle Thunderbirds) – 14.256, Tomas Hyka (Gatineau Olympiques) – 14.674
Team Orr Average Time 14.524 (Winner)
Team Cherry Participants: Brett Kulak (Vancouver Giants) – 14.785, Damon Severson (Kelowna Rockets) – 14.542, Mike Winther (Prince Albert Raiders) – 19.518, Gemel Smith (Owen Sound Attack) – 14.907
Team Cherry Average Time 15.938
The Ontario Hockey League would fare well In the Hardest Shot event as the underachieving Nick Ebert of the Windsor Spitfires hammered home a 94.7 mph shot to grab the hardest shot even beating out Everett Silvertip and Team Cherry captain Ryan Murray’s shot of 94.3 mph. Guelph Storm defenseman Matt Finn, who has been rising fast in the draft rankings, recorded a shot 90.1 mph. Ebert won the individual hardest shot event but Team Orr grabbed another point for the best team average at 91.9 mph. Nick Ebert has had an underwhelming season to date posting 3 goals and 25 points in 49 games and slipping to the 70th ranked North American skater after being touted as a first round talent. The Windsor blueliner will certainly use the Top Prospects event to help him get going for the final third of his draft season.
WINNER: Nick Ebert (Windsor Spitfires) – 94.7mph (Team Cherry)
Team Orr Participants: Matthew Finn (Guelph Storm) – 90.1mph, Chandler Stephenson (Regina Pats) – 94.1mph, Adam Pelech (Erie Otters) – 91.0mph, Dalton Thrower (Saskatoon Blades) – 92.4mph
Team Orr Average: 91.9mph (Winner)
Team Cherry Participants: Ryan Murray (Everett Silvertips) – 94.3mph, Nick Ebert (Windsor Spitfires) – 94.7mph, Coda Gordon (Swift Current Broncos) – 84.2mph, Mathew Dumba (Red Deer Rebels) – 91.8mph
Team Cherry Average: 91.3mph
The shooting accuracy event featured top prospect Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts), Derrick Pouliott (Portland Winterhawks), Gianluca Curcuruto (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) and Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings) for Team Orr. Competitors for Team Cherry who would try their luck at hitting the targets were Dillion Fournier (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies), Tom Wilson (Plymouth Whalers), Scott Laughton (Oshawa Generals) and Andrew Ryan (Halifax Mooseheads). The OHL competitors would rise to the top again as Gianluca Curcuruto and Scott Laughton pegged off 4 of 5 targets while Tom Wilson went 4-for-6. Laughton and Curcuruto headed to sudden death where Curcuruto won the Shooting Accuracy event for Team Orr. Gianluca has noticed his draft fall (148th North American skater) and could certainly use a boost in confidence with this win.
WINNER: Gianluca Curcuruto (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) – 4 / 5; Playoff 1 / 1
Team Orr Participants: Mikhail Grigorenko (Quebec Remparts) – 3 / 8, Derrick Pouliot (Portland Winterhawks) – 2 / 8, Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oil Kings) – 4 / 7
Team Orr Total Targets 13 / 28 (Tied)
Team Cherry Participants: Dillon Fournier (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) – 4 / 8, Tom Wilson (Plymouth Whalers) – 4 / 6, Scott Laughton (Oshawa Generals) – 4 / 5; Playoff 0 / 1, Andrew Ryan (Halifax Mooseheads) – 1 / 8
Team Cherry Total Targets 13 / 28 (Tied)
SHOW-DOWN BREAKAWAY CHALLENGE
The final event of the skills competition, Show-Down Breakaway Challenge, caused a lot of excitement as it would need extra time to declare a winner. Kitchener Rangers’ forward, Radek Faksa, continued to make a name for himself as he won scored on 2 of his 3 chances and earned a score of 26. Faksa’s competitor was Kamloops Blazer Tim Bozon who creatively picked up the puck on his stick like a lacrosse player and fired it just wide on his attempt. Faksa’s win gave the Ontario Hockey League its third winner of four individual events and earned Team Orr another point in the competition. Radek Faksa has been one of the better stories of the 2012 draft class rising from unknown status all the way to the number 4 ranked North American skater. Faksa has filled the vacant import spot left by Gabriel Landeskog very nicely posting 22 goals and 47 points as the OHL’s leading rookie scorer.
WINNER: Radek Faksa (Kitchener Rangers) – 25; Final Round Tiebreaker 26 (Team Orr)
Team Orr Participants: Scott Kosmachuk (Guelph Storm) – 20, Tanner Pearson (Barrie Colts) – 26, Andreas Athanasiou (London Knights) – 15, Colton Sissons (Kelowna Rockets) – 24, Raphael Bussieres (Baie-Comeau Drakkar) – 24
Team Orr Average Score 22.3 (Winner)
Team Cherry Participants: Tim Bozon (Kamloops Blazers) – 27; Final Round Tie-breaker 21; Martin Frk (Halifax Mooseheads) – 19, Daniil Zharkov (Belleville Bulls) – 21, Brendan Gaunce (Belleville Bulls) – 16, Dane Fox (Erie Otters) – 19, Dominik Volek (Regina Pats) – 21
Team Cherry Average Score 20.9
The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game gets underway tonight (Wednesday, February 1st) when the puck drops at 7 pm PST on Rogers Sportsnet. Injuries have caused some late changes to the rosters as defensemen Cody Ceci (Ottawa 67’s, OHL) and Olli Maatta (London Knights, OHL) as well as forward Charles Hudon (Chicoutimi Saqueneens) are unable to participate due to injury. These late scratches add to the already long list of NHL draft-eligible sidelined with injuries this season including Nail Yakupov, Morgan Rielly, Slater Koekkoek, Alex Galchenyuk, Jarrod Maidens and Matia Marcantuoni among others. Sarnia Sting forward Nail Yakupov returned to the lineup last weekend but will be held out of the Top Prospects game as a pre-cautionary measure which has angered many especially since Mikhail Grigorenko was told that he would be suspended two-games if he missed tonight’s game despite nursing an ankle injury. Injury replacements for Ceci, Maatta and Hudon are Dane Fox (London Knights, OHL), Dillon Fournier (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, QMJHL) and Dalton Thrower (Saskatoon Blades, WHL).
Check out “CHL Top Prospects Game Preview – Stars, Stars, Stars!” for a complete rosters and a preview of tonight’s star-studded event.