The final event of the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation was the All-Star Skills Competition, and it featured some pretty special moments.
The fastest skater contest was a near dead heat between Owen Sound's Jarrod Maidens and Sarnia's Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk edged him by one-tenth of a second in the preliminary round, and when they raced again in the final, it was Galchenyuk by a whisker again, getting around in 15.040 seconds, compared to 15.045 for Maidens.
The Breakaway Challenge allowed the players to show their creativity, and they didn't disappoint.
The first to star was Sudbury's Mathew Campagna, who on his third try got the puck to stick to his blade and raised the stick over his head with one hand. As he skated in, he slashed his stick down, but it hit the goalie right in the chest.
Sarnia's Nail Yakupov tried a Superman dive with the puck in his hand and tried sliding it over to his stick, but couldn't get the shot off. Another attempt featured Galchenyuk lobbing the puck chest-high as Yakupov skated in, but his shot attempt went wide.
The winner, though, was London's Andreas Athanasiou, who put the puck between his skates, flipped it into the air and flicked it out of the air with his backhand and into the net.
USNTDP right wing Miles Koules won the accuracy shooting contest, twice needing just five shots to break the four targets.
Athanasiou won the final event, the Elimination Shootout. Through two rounds, he and Portland defenseman Derrick Pouliot were the only skaters remaining. Pouliot's third attempt landed in Collin Olson's glove when the USNTDP netminder made a fine save. At the other end, Athanasiou beat Daniel Atlshuller for the victory.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.
— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson