The 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game saw some of the best draft eligible prospects from coast-to-coast display their speed, vision and creativity in Quebec City on Monday.
Goals came early and often as Team Cherry skated to a 7-5 win before a crowd of 9,707 at Centre Videotron.
There was plenty to like about the game. Here are 10 unique facts and a few bits of history that were made in the 22nd edition of the annual showcase.
Cherry snaps skid: Team Cherry ended a six year drought at the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, winning for the first time since 2010, a year that featured current NHL stars Taylor Hall (Windsor Spitfires/New Jersey Devils) and Ryan Spooner (Peterborough Petes/Boston Bruins) on the roster. Cherry improves to an all-time record of 6-13 in the event.
Jokiharju makes history: Portland Winterhawks defenceman Henri Jokiharju earned Jim Gregory Player of the Game honours for Team Cherry, setting a new event record for points by a defenceman with three assists to his credit. The Finnish rearguard became just the fifth player in the history of the event to register at least three assists, and is the first defenceman to earn Player of the Game honours since Ryan Murphy (Kitchener Rangers) of Team Cherry in 2011.
Goals galore: The goals kept coming in Quebec City as Team Cherry and Team Orr combined to light the lamp 12 times, tying an event record matched in 1996, 2005 and 2008. Team Cherry’s power play was particularly effective, striking three times to mark just the second time in the event’s 22-year history that a team has scored three goals on the man advantage.
Spreading the scoring around: A record 12 different goal scorers found the back of the net in the 7-5 win for Team Cherry, a new event record. Goals were scored by Cherry’s Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph Storm), Antoine Morand (Acadie-Bathurst Titan), MacKenzie Entwistle (Hamilton Bulldogs), Maxime Comtois (Victoriaville Tigres), Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor Spitfires), Owen Tippett (Mississauga Steelheads), and Jake Leschyshyn (Regina Pats). Team Orr replied with marks from Sasha Chmelevski (Ottawa 67’s), Michael Rasmussen (Tri-City Americans), Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads), Kailer Yamamoto (Spokane Chiefs), and Stelio Mattheos (Brandon Wheat Kings). This surpasses the prior mark of 11 set in 2008.
QMJHL players make their mark: All five QMJHL skaters had points as Nico Hischier (1-2–3) of the Halifax Mooseheads, Antoine Morand (1-1–2) of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Maxime Comtois (1-0–1) of the Victoriaville Tigres, Antoine Crete-Belzile (0-1–1) of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, and Pierre-Olivier Joseph (0-1–1) of the Charlottetown Islanders made the most of their opportunity.
WHL goaltenders get the win: Stuart Skinner (Lethbridge Hurricanes) and Ian Scott (Prince Albert Raiders) combined to record the win for Team Cherry, marking the first time a pair of WHL goaltenders have worked together to claim victory since 2000 in Toronto when Brent Krahn (Calgary Hitmen) and Davis Parley (Kamloops Blazers) won with Team Orr. Skinner turned aside 17 of the 18 shots he faced in relief of Scott to pick up the ‘W’.
Captains on the radar: Captains Nolan Patrick (Brandon Wheat Kings) of Team Cherry and Nico Hischier (Halifax Mooseheads) of Team Orr were closely observed after entering action ranked first and second respectively on NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm Draft Rankings for North American skaters. The two didn’t disappoint as Patrick recorded two assists and Hischier earned Jim Gregory Player of the Game recognition for Team Orr with a goal and two assists. This marked the first time since 2013’s Seth Jones (Portland Winterhawks) and Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax Mooseheads) where opposing captains were ranked first and second prior to the event.
Bulldogs make their debut: Hamilton Bulldogs forwards MacKenzie Entwistle of Team Cherry and Matthew Strome of Team Orr became the first players in team history to suit up at the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. Entwistle finished his night with a goal and an assist in the victory while Strome, who had hoped to reverse the family fortunes at the event, came up short in the 7-5 loss. Older brothers Ryan (2011) and Dylan (2015) didn’t come nearly as close in their attempts at victory, both losing by six goal margins.
Gagne gets the win: Team Cherry coach Simon Gagne got the win behind the bench, joined by assistants Philippe Boucher (Quebec Remparts) and former Remparts and Quebec Nordiques forward Pierre Lacroix. Gagne coached against Team Orr bench boss and QMJHL coaching legend Guy Chouinard, the second-winningest coach in league history. Gagne becomes the 10th different head coach to earn a win in this event following Don Cherry (5 wins), Bobby Orr (9 wins), Tiger Williams (2002), Michel Bergeron and Pat Burns (2007), Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr (2008), Doug Gilmour and Wendel Clark (2011), Pat Quinn (2012), Mike McPhee (2013), and Tim Hunter (2014).
Formenton turns heads in Sport Testing Combine: London Knights winger Alex Formenton got himself noticed in Sunday’s Sport Testing Combine, finishing in the top five players for both on and off-ice results. The rookie forward faired well in on-ice tests that included transition agility, transition agility with the puck, weave agility, weave agility with the puck, reaction and reaction with the puck. Off the ice, Formenton showed particularly well in the vertical jump excercise. Full Results
The 2017 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game featured 40 of the Canadian Hockey League’s top players eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft which takes place June 23-24 in Chicago.