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2011 NHL Entry Draft
2011 NHL Entry Draft Hats
Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 7:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Catenacci gives Team Orr 1-0 lead

Team Orr's Daniel Catenacci of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds didn't win the fastest skater event for nothing.

The 5-foot-10, 181-pound center exploded into the offensive end on a shorthanded breakaway off a quick transition, broke in on goalie Christopher Gibson of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and ripped a shot home at 11:56 to give his team a 1-0 lead over Team Cherry in the CHL/NHL Home Hardware Top Prospects Game at Air Canada Centre. Defenseman Reece Scarlett (Swift Current Broncos) sprung Catenacci with a nice outlet pass from his own end.

Catenacci, who won the fastest-skater competition in 14.017 on Tuesday night, broke in and went backhand-forehand before sliding a shot into the right-hand corner with just four seconds left in the Team Cherry power-play.

Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Liam Liston, who leads all Western Hockey League rookie goalies with 11 victories this season, stopped 13 shots to post a shutout in the opening 20 minutes for Team Orr. He had several big stops, including one off Team Cherry sniper Ryan Strome (Niagara IceDogs) with his left blocker off a slap shot from between the circles and another off the stick of highly-touted Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Sean Couturier off a left-circle whistler.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 7:11 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

In goal tonight

Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Liam Liston will start in goal for Team Orr, with the Owen Sound Attack's Jordan Binning ton replacing him about halfway through the game.

The Victoriaville Tigres' David Honzik will start in net for Team Cherry, with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens' Christopher Gibson set to replace him halfway through.

We're about 10 minutes from puck drop here. Check back for in-game updates.

EDIT: The game sheet was wrong, as Christopher Gibson started for Team Cherry. Honzik will replace him midway through the second.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 6:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Top prospect skills and thrills

As you might expect, the hot topic during the morning practice at Air Canada Centre and the afternoon interview sessions at the Westin Harbour Castle was on Tuesday night's Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skills Competition.
 
Between Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer, Sven Baertschi of Portland and Tomas Jurco of Saint John, the Showdown Breakaway Challenge was something to behold.
 
There were headers, one-handed shots, and lacrosse-style whips into the cage.
 
Jurco won the event with his dazzling lacrosse-style scoop from between the circles that was followed by some twisting and twirling of the puck before unleashing a wicked backhand off a spin-o-rama. Nugent-Hopkins skated down the middle of the ice while maintaining control of the puck with a left-footed toe drag. At the last second, he'd do a 180 turn, kick the puck to his backhand and deposit a shot.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 1:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Clark, Gilmour meet the media

Team Orr coach Doug Gilmour and assistant Wendel Clark met with the media this afternoon following their practice. And while no one can reach the bombast level of Don Cherry, Gilmour and Clark were interesting in their own ways. Here are a few highlights from each man:

WENDEL CLARK

How much fun is it to be involved in this game? "I think it's great. You get to watch the kids, the raw talent before they get drafted, so you see the excitement, the energy and the raw talent and they get to play together with their peers throughout Canada."

Does this bring back memories from when you were in your draft year? "They never had this when I was going through. These guys get to see each other throughout the league and that's a lot of fun. They get to compare each other. It's an honor for them to be here for the three days. It's not really an All-Star game. They're trying to get drafted and get to the next level. The intensity is going to be a lot higher."

What's your message to the kids? "Do what got you here, don't change anything. Anything in sports, it's do what got you there, play hard, have fun. Take it all in. These are some of the fun things. Sometimes kids come and forget to take it all in and they remember 10 years later. Come here, work hard, take it all in and have fun with it. These are the stepping stones not all kids get to do."
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 12:27 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Team Orr lines and pairings

Doug Gilmour's Team Orr just finished their morning skates, and it was a little more brisk of a pace than Team Cherry's skate. Here are the line combinations that were used, from left to right:

Sven Baertschi-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-Zack Phillips
Lucas Lessio-Shane McColgan-Daniel Catenacci
Boone Jenner-Vladimir Namestnikov-Jonathan Huberdeau
Brandon Saad-Colin Jacobs-Vincent Trocheck

Unlike Team Cherry, Team Orr looked more set in their defense pairings:

Dougie Hamilton-Stuart Percy
Reese Scarlett-David Musil
Nathan Beaulieu-Xavier Ouellet

And in goal were Jordan Binnington and Liam Liston. Each goalie will play half the game, but who starts and who finishes remains to be decided.

Gilmour and assistant coach Wendel Clark also spoke this morning, and I'll have those highlights in a bit.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 11:34 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don Cherry speaks

Don Cherry never is shy about having an opinion, whether it's on the famed Coach's Corner segment on Hockey Night in Canada, or this morning at the Air Canada Centre following Team Cherry's practice prior to tonight's Top Prospects Game.

Here are a few highlights from Cherry's meeting with the media:

Still have fun doing this? "We still have a lot of fun. When you see a goaltender like that Owen Sound guy (Jordan Binnington) stand on his head, it reminds me of (Roberto) Luongo (in 1997). I remember him with Bobby Orr, we were in Maple Leafs Gardens and we outshot them 17-1 and we were losing 1-0. To see these guys coming up, you think of 2003 in Kitchener and (Ryan) Getzlaf and (Dion) Phaneuf and Marc-Andre Fleury, to see them … it's still a lot of fun."

What's your message to the kids? "We told them you can never, ever drop (in the rankings). But you can … and I go back to Dan Cleary. Dan Cleary when he came, he was from Belleville, Newfounland, not many people knew him. He had a hell of a game and he jumped like you couldn't believe. The big thing is, everything's got to be quicker because everybody is good here. You see them against their peers and the whole deal. There are going to be 200 guys here watching you. If you're a banger, you have to bang -- you have to do your thing. If you just grab your wing and go back, it doesn’t do you any good. That's why you see sort of an open-ice game."
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 11:06 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Team Cherry lines and pairings

Team Cherry just finished the game-day skate, and here are the line combinations they used:

Tomas Jurco-Sean Couturier-Shane Prince
Nicklas Jensen-Ryan Strome-Ty Rattie
Mark McNeill-Mark Scheifele-Matthew Puempel
Phillip Danault-Rickard Rakell-Tobias Rieder

Assistant coach Brian Kilrea ran the practice, and while the lines stayed intact from beginning to end, he rotated all six defenseman, so Ryan Murphy, Scott Harrington, Joe Morrow, Tyler Wotherspoon, Duncan Siemens and Myles Bell all took shifts with each other.

And Christopher Gibson and David Honzik manned the nets. They'll each play about half the game tonight, but the starter is yet to be determined.

Team Orr should be taking the ice in a bit and we'll have their lines and pairings in a while.

Also, Team Cherry coach Don Cherry held court after practice and was his usual self. Stay tuned to the blog for some of the highlights.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.19.2011 / 12:37 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Breakaway relay steals the show

Polling a few of the prospects Tuesday night, it's obvious the Showdown Breakaway contest was the star of the show, especially Saint John's Tomas Jurco.

"The thing that Tomas Jurco did, his shootout move, that was pretty slick," said Kelowna's Shane McColgan. "That was pretty cool, never seen anybody do that. And (Sven) Baertschi told me he was going to do that one-handed thing and he pulled that off. So that was pretty cool."

"Jurco's move was pretty cool," said Saskatoon's Duncan Siemens. "When I saw him flip it up and started spinning his stick and the puck landed on it, that was like, wow. Baertschi's one-handed move was pretty cool. There was a lot of cool moves, a lot of creativity."

The one surprise entry in the event was Portland Winterhawks defenseman Joe Morrow. Morrow isn't really known as an offensive player, but he made the most of it. His highlight was a Superman dive with the puck in his left hand, and then he slid it onto his stick for a shot that was stopped.

"He had some fun with it," said Siemens. "That last one with the Superman, that's pretty fun."

Siemens and Bell were happy to limit their participation to the hardest shot contest.

"Kind of happy I didn't have to embarrass myself out there," said Bell, who won the hardest shot contest.

"I was glad I was put where I was," added Siemens. "If I could stay away form the breakaway and accuracy, I was fine.

"Just a tough break for Morrow, I guess. … Not too many d-men that have good gloves out there. There's guys like (Kitchener's Ryan) Murphy, (Montreal's Xavier) Ouellet that got some hands and some moves, but for the most part d-men aren't known for their good mitts."
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.18.2011 / 7:42 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Top prospects skills competition results

So we're under way here at the Air Canada Centre with the Top Prospects skills competition.

It took all eight skaters to finally determine the fastest skater. Each of the eight skaters were required to take one lap around the rink. Daniel Catenacci of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds clocked in at 14.017 to overtake Tobias Rieder (14.068) of the Kitchener Rangers. Rieder had held the lead as the fifth skater before Catenacci overtook him three skaters later.

Kitchener's Ryan Murphy started the event with a time of 14.197 before Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs slipped and fell on the back end. Shane McColgan of the Kelowna Rockets also slippped while rounding the net but still finished with a respectable 15.729.

In the second event, Myles Bell of the Regina Pats earned the hardest shot on his second attempt -- 98.4 mph. Bell was the first shooter in the event.

Matthew Puempel of the Peterborough Petes won the shooting accuracy event -- hitting all 4 targets on five attempts. Zack Phillips of the the Saint John Sea Dogs finished a close second, smashing all 4 targets on six tries. Shane Prince of of the Ottawa 67's and Colin Jacobs of the Seattle Thunderbirds each hit four targets on 7 attempts.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.18.2011 / 12:32 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Prospects undergo rigorous on-ice testing

Long before those top players from the Canadian Hockey League will hear their names at the NHL Entry Draft, they'll undergo a series of on- and off-ice tests that will provide scouts and general managers an instant user profile of each player.

On Tuesday morning, those 2011 draft-eligible stars of the CHL were put through those tests at the Toronto Maple Leafs practice facility in Etobicoke, Ont.

The on-ice component, which has 70 individual measurements extracted from 14 on-ice tests that break each player's game down into the essentials of skating, puck handling and reaction time, was conducted by Ward Hillegas of Next Testing. Next Testing, a provider of testing and reporting services for understanding athletic performance, has served as the testing provider for the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game since 2008.

"You're dealing with the cream of the crop out here in the CHL, so the skill level is phenomenal," Hillegas told NHL.com. "It's neat to watch them because it's like a game situation. They become competitive out here. A big screen TV shows their times and scores as soon as they finish so the leading time stays on top. If you get beat, it's gone."

Hillegas said each NHL general manager will be given a binder with statistical data on all 40 players competing in the Prospects Game prior to the opening faceoff on Wednesday. It is done this way so that the scouts have yet another tool at their disposal to assist in their evaluation during the course of the game.

"We have what's called a Next Testing Index (NTI)," he said. "That ranges anywhere from 0-to-1,000 points and is based on four main categories -- forward skating, backward skating, puck control and reaction time. There are four sub-categories in each of those main categories."

Next Testing, based out of Madison, Wis., but which also has offices in Canada, is a scientifically based, standardized, elite testing service designed to evaluate hockey-specific skills and athletic traits.

"At this level, the kids are probably somewhere in the mid-600's to low 700-range," Hillegas said. "The top NHL players are closer to your 820-830-point range."

Hillegas, 53, did admit some of the better-conditioned prospects in the past have finished in the high 700's, which is quite a feat.  

"Let's face it, some of these guys are at a pretty high level," he said.

Hillegas feels the Top Prospects Game has grown each and every season.

"It brings a lot of people together at one location to take a look at the players," he said. "The scouts are traveling all over the place, so to bring them to one venue to watch players, not just once, but multiple times, is great. This is Next Testing's fourth year of doing the CHL top prospects game and I'm noticing more and more scouts coming out to watch not only the game but the testing. When they view it, the data we retrieve makes more sense."
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