Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 9:34 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Indiana Ice discuss thrill of victory, agony of dispersal

TORONTO -- It was a bittersweet ending for defensemen Joshua Jacobs and Ryan Mantha of the Indiana Ice of the United States Hockey League this season.

Three days after helping lead the organization to its second Clark Cup championship in 10 seasons after beating the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL championship series, the league completed a dispersal draft of those players that were on Indiana's season-ending roster and affiliate list.

"It was very strange," Jacobs said. "A lot of guys were heading to college but some of the younger guys were staying and needed more time, but we celebrated like it was our last hurrah. Seeing the players getting drafted was kind of bittersweet, but it was also a good thing for them and they'll get a new insight into next year and more options, more intelligence from other coaches."

Posted On Thursday, 05.29.2014 / 9:22 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Wheat Kings' Hawryluk eager to prove full recovery

TORONTO -- Brandon Wheat Kings center Jayce Hawryluk is looking forward to impressing NHL scouts and general managers during the fitness portion of the NHL Scouting Combine at Toronto International Centre on Saturday.

For Hawryluk, taking part in the most grueling portion of the Combine is something he is relishing. That wasn't the case two months ago, when after leading the Wheat Kings to a 5-4 victory against the Regina Pats in Game 3 of their best-of-7 first-round Western Hockey League playoff series, Hawryluk was hospitalized after collapsing in the locker room from dehydration.

Hawryluk told on Thursday that NHL personnel have questioned what happened that night, moments after he had been named the game's first star after scoring three goals and adding an assist. He has assured all who have asked that he is fully healthy and plans to prove that Saturday.

"I'm better than ever," Hawryluk said. "Everything is fine. I went through tests and it's all good. It was a scary situation with the dehydration. The doctors told me it was overexertion and dehydration, which caused my light-headedness. There was no heart problem and all my medical reports are good."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 4:48 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Fabbri uses Memorial Cup loss as motivation

TORONTO -- It wasn't the finish Guelph Storm center Robert Fabbri envisioned in the Memorial Cup championship game in London, Ontario, on Sunday.

Still, despite a 6-3 loss against the Edmonton Oil Kings on the final day of the Canadian Hockey League season, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound left-hand shot has plenty to get excited about now that the 2014 NHL Draft is less than a month away.

Fabbri, No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, finished the season with 45 goals and 87 points in 58 games in his second season in the Ontario Hockey League.

"You can't really define a season off one game, although it was the Memorial Cup and we worked really hard for that opportunity; we just didn't get the outcome we wanted," Fabbri said.

"Winning the OHL championship was one of our goals and one of the steps we needed to take to get to the Memorial Cup. Accomplishing that and the way we did was great. Not too many players can say they won an OHL championship."

Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 11:10 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Wheat Kings' Quenneville set to impress at Combine

TORONTO -- Wonder what the topic of discussion was when Brandon Wheat Kings center John Quenneville visited the interview room of the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday here at the NHL Scouting Combine?

Quenneville, a second cousin to Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and nephew (through marriage) of Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk, had 25 goals and 58 points in 61 Western Hockey League games this season. He is No. 23 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

He told that the meeting with the Blackhawks was "interesting."

Perhaps Quenneville offered some words of encouragement for the Blackhawks staff in attendance. Chicago trails its Western Conference Final series against the Los Angeles Kings 3-1. Game 5 is Wednesday at United Center in Chicago (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"Los Angeles is playing great hockey, but there are so many good players on Chicago; I still think they can make a series of it so long as they dig deep," he said.

Posted On Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 9:30 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the 2014 NHL Combine

Oshawa forward Smith a prospect on the rise in 2014

TORONTO -- Oshawa Generals right wing Hunter Smith is hoping the success he had on the baseball diamond someday carries over to the ice.

"I grew up playing baseball and was a catcher," Smith told "I was a big home-run hitter, always hitting in the [No.] three or [No.] four hole."

Smith, born in Windsor, Ontario, was a catcher with the Windsor South Canadians baseball program for a few years before he decided to make hockey his full-time ambition.

"I think I loved baseball so much because we always won," he said. "One year we went 53-1, so we were always a championship-winning team, and it was just a lot of fun. There was no better feeling than trotting the bases. But baseball has been over with now for me for about four or five years."

Smith, a 6-foot-6, 208-pound forward, had the biggest jump on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft, landing at No. 39 after being ranked No. 140 in the midterm release in January.

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