01.20.2010 | 11:33 p.m. ET
Things are closing down here at the WFCU Centre after a pretty entertaining night of hockey, that had a little bit of everything -- strong checking, hard hitting, some nice goals and even a couple of fights.
I talked to Alexander Petrovich this morning for a future story on NHL.com, and I asked him about adding offense to his game. He said that's not usually his forte -- then he has 2 assists for Team Cherry in the game. I asked him if I inspired him, and he had to agree.
I also asked him about dropping the gloves with Dylan McIlrath in the second period. I assumed that Petrovich's Red Deer Rebels and McIlrath's Moose Jaw Warriors had faced off before, but Petrovich said he was injured the first time the teams played. But next time, he'll be ready.
"It's a good taste," Petrovich said of what likely will be a physical rematch in some WHL game.
Also was nice to see Taylor Hall take control of the bench from Hall of Fame coach Brian Kilrea. Austin Watson said it was Hall's idea to keep him out there for the 3-on-5 penalty kill. It worked well, and maybe Hall is setting himself up for a post-playing career already?
No, Hall said a little nervously, he wasn't telling a 1,000-win coaching legend how to do his job. Just doing what he could for the team.
"I didn't know if Killer (Kilrea) knew that Watson was such a good shot blocker," said Hall. "I was just tyring to hlep out the team.
He also did that by setting up the game-winning goal. All three top guys -- Hall, Cam Fowler and Tyler Seguin -- played OK, but none really jumped off the page. But none of them did anything to disappoint, either. It's going to be a fun rest of the season to follow their progression, all the way to Los Angeles in June.
That's it from this end of the blogosphere. Thanks again to all those who followed along, and keep checking back at NHL.com for all the best information on the top prospects available for the 2010 Entry Draft.
Team Cherry wins
01.20.2010 | 9:47 p.m. ET
Ryan Spooner scores to put Team Cherry ahead in the lead at 11:55 of the third period, and then Louis-Marc Aubry ices it with an empty net goal with just under a minute left.
01.20.2010 | 9:24 p.m. ET
Jordan Weal tipped an Alexander Petrovic shot into the net to tie things up 34 seconds after Skinner put Team Orr ahead. We're 2-2 with about 10 minutes left in regulation.
Team Orr goes ahead
01.20.2010 | 9:18 p.m. ET
Jeff Skinner, one of the top goal-scorers in the OHL, tipped a Brandon Gormley point shot past goalie Maxime Clermont at 6:07 to put Team Orr up 2-1.
They're going again
01.20.2010 | 9:14 p.m. ET
This time Team Orr's Matt MacKenzie and Team Cherry's Andrew Yogan dropped the gloves. Not much happened, but it just goes to show the intensity of this game is playoff-caliber.
Rock 'em, sock 'em Prospects
01.20.2010 | 8:50 p.m. ET
We had our first fight in the Prospects Game since 2008 when Team Orr's Dylan McIlrath and Team Cherry's Alexander Petrovic. These two are no strangers to each other, as McIlrath plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors and Petrovic with the Red Deer Rebels. The fight came with just 3.7 seconds left and didn't really last long, with McIlrath getting the nod.
We're 1-1 heading to the third period. Back with more in a bit.
All tied up
01.20.2010 | 8:39 p.m. ET
Emerson Etem tied things up with a nice shorthanded goal at 13:06 of the second. Etem grabbed a loose puck in his end, cut wide around Brandon Gormley, carried the puck across to the left side of the ice, crossed the blue line and fired a shot from the left circle that beat Domingue.
That came seconds after Austin Watson nearly scored -- well, he put himself into the net, but not the puck. Taylor Hall broke in alone, but Domingue hung in to make a nice save. Watson followed the play and crashed into the net, but forgot to take the puck with him. The referees initially ruled it a goal, but replay showed otherwise.
We're all tied up with just under 6 minutes left.
Now in goal ...
01.20.2010 | 8:44 p.m. ET
Right after the game's first penalty -- hooking on Team Orr's Petr Straka -- the teams switched goalies, with Maxime Clermont taking over for Team Cherry, and Louis Domingue now in for Team Orr.
After one period
01.20.2010 | 8:10 p.m. ET
Nino Niederreiter's goal for Team Orr is the difference in the game. A great play by Jeff Skinner to pull the puck off the wall in the offensive zone, and he walked out to the left circle. He slid a pass Niederreiter, who's low shot squeezed between Calvin Pickard's pads and just barely trickled over the goal line with 2:48 left in the period.
Team Orr nearly made it 2-0, but Tyler Toffoli was robbed by a sprawling Pickard in the period's final seconds.
We'll be back with more during the second period.
01.20.2010 | 7:40 p.m. ET
Bobby Orr said every year he tells his players to survive the first 10 minutes, because that's when Don Cherry's squad usually comes out the hardest. Well, Team Orr led the play through most of the first 10 minutes, getting the game's first six shots and holding Team Cherry without a shot for the game's first six minutes.
Team Cherry, though, had the best scoring chance, but Mark Visentin denied Andrew Yogan and then Stanislav Galiev on the rebound. After a long shot drought, Team Cherry trailed in shots 7-6 at the halfway point.
With under 9 minutes to go in the first, scoreless.
Starting in goal
01.20.2010 | 7:19 p.m. ET
Both goalies will play half the game, but to start, it'll be Mark Visentin for Team Orr, and Calvin Pickard for Team Cherry.
Ready to go
01.20.2010 | 7:13 p.m. ET
We're getting close to show time here at the WFCU Centre. The fans are filling the building, joining the scouts that are everywhere looking at the best players the top Canadian junior leagues have to offer for the 2010 Entry Draft.
The teams are on the ice for introductions. Taylor Hall is wearing the captain's C for Team Cherry, with Jakub Culek and Alexander Petrovic serving as assistant captains.
Tyler Seguin will captain Team Orr, with Mark Pysyk and Brandon Gormley each wearing A's.
If you're not watching already, flip on the NHL Network in the U.S., or Rogers SportsNet in Canada and watch what should be a fun, physical game. Or keep checking back here as I'll be blogging away during the game.
Team Orr at work
01.20.2010 | 11:53 a.m. ET
Here's a quick look at the line combinations and defense pairings for Team Orr tonight, if practice is anything to base it on:
Ryan Martindale-Alexander Burmistrov-Joey Hishon
Quinton Howden-Jeff Skinner-Nino Niederreiter
Michael Bournival-Steven Shipley-Petr Straka
John McFarland-Tyler Seguin-Tyler Toffoli
Brandon Gormley-Dylan McIlrath
Jerome Leduc-Matt MacKenzie
Mark Pysyk-Stephen Silas
Mark Visentin and Louis Domingue were in the nets.
The McFarland-Seguin-Toffoli line should be fun to watch. They skated together over the summer for Canada at the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament and combined for 11 goals and 25 points in four games. Seguin (3-7-10), Toffoli (3-5-8) and McFarland (5-2-7) finished 1-2-3 in scoring for the tournament as Canada won the gold medal.
01.20.2010 | 11:40 a.m. ET
Don Cherry held court this morning following the Team Cherry practice. Here are some highlights:
Watching Taylor Hall: "I remember Taylor Hall, I saw him when he was minor midget, and my son and I went … nobody had really heard of him before. He came out and played in the Marlie Tournament and the first game in the morning I was picking the stars and he got nothing and I picked him first star. The Marlie guy came to me and said come on, just because he's from Kingston. I said watch him this afternoon, and I remember they won the game and he got 6 goals. He'll be No. 1 and I've been saying that for four years now."
Watching Tyler Seguin: "I don't understand why he wasn't on Team Canada (for World Junior Championship). That's what I said. I said they must have a pretty good team when they cut him. I don't understand why he wasn't there. I know he's young, but if he's going to be No. 2 they should have kept him. Evidently they should have."
Returning to Windsor, where he played his junior hockey: "Francois Road with Mrs. Skov. … I remember she used to make me the great big thing of porridge. My defense partner, another great coach, Al Arbour. We had a great time here."
What it means to coach in this game: "I love it. It really means a lot to me. With Bobby, but it really means a lot that I can get on. I told the guys some stories just before the pictures. The story was about (Matt) Duchene here last year. I knew he was gong to go to Colorado. I said, 'Listen, you're going to go to Colorado, I know that's your favorite team. That's a better team than it showed last year, they're going to have a good coach, they're going to have to keep you because of the first round, you're going to have a terrific year.' He said, 'You really think I'll make the club?' I said, 'You'll make it and be dynamite.' That's why I'm the coach of the year in the American Hockey League and why everyone watches Coach's Corner."
Coaching against Bobby Orr: "Bobby Orr, it's getting ridiculous. Last year in Oshawa I thought I had a pretty good team. I'm starting to think maybe it is the coaching. Not too successful the last three years.
Is there a wager on the game?: "Yeah, I got the hundred bucks but I'm getting tired of paying it."
Team Cherry on the ice
01.20.2010 | 10:47 a.m. ET
Just enjoying the sights and sounds from Team Cherry practice here at the WFCU Centre this morning. Assistant coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Kilrea is leading the action on the ice.
Going off the practice, here's how the lines and defense pairings could look for tonight's game:
Taylor Hall-Ryan Spooner-Austin Watson
Devante Smith-Pelley-Jordan Weal-Jakub Culek
Stanislav Galiev-Ryan Johansen-Emerson Etem
Brock Beukeboom-Brandon Archibald
Austin Madaisky-Troy Rutkowski
Cam Fowler-Alexander Petrovich
Calvin Pickard and Maxime Clermont will split time in net.
Yowe, day-to-day, upper body
01.19.2010 | 10:32 p.m. ET
One more note before I sign off for the night. NHL.com cameraman Tom Yowe is sporting a swollen left eye and two stitches, but he's doing just fine and working away editing footage as we speak. That's a hockey cameraman.
The great irony -- and it's easy to make jokes now since Tom's OK -- is that he got hurt during the accuracy shooting contest. While some kids were demonstrating the event, one shot a puck wide of the goal, and it rolled around the glass and bit Tom in the face.
"I talked to (Cam) Fowler, and I said what are you doing after the fastest skater, and he said I'm serving it up for accuracy," Yowe told me. "I figured I would go to the corner where he's at and and stand behind him -- harmless enough, until I hear bang. I can see the puck rolling along the glass and it happened so fast, and boom. That's pretty much it.
"The funny thing is I put the camera down and I stopped shooting, but I still had my headphones in and I could hear Fowler and (Taylor) Hall, 'Our NHL guy just got hit.'"
The training staff already was near Yowe's corner, so they got to him pretty quick. And like a champ, he was back out for the next event. Although he did get a little motivation from a special source.
"Probably the most memorable moment, I'm sitting on the bench in the training room," said Yowe, "and (Bobby) Orr walked in and said he was impressed I got the shot."
The most amazing thing was that Tom's glasses, camera and head all came through fine. Well, maybe not his head, but he'll be back at work tomorrow.
Orr tops Cherry, 23-17
01.19.2010 | 10:15 p.m. ET
John McFarland scored three times to lead in the 3-on-3 contest for Team Orr. Team Cherry's Andrew Yogan had five goals, but it wasn't enough as Bobby's Boys topped Don's Kids.
"False sense of security," was Cherry's reaction when I asked him how he comes back from this crushing defeat for tomorrow's game.
The highlight of the night for me was watching Nino Niederreiter toss his glove and score behind the distraction in the Showdown Breakaway Challenge. Nino said he learned the move from Alex Kovalev. Although Kovalev never threw his glove at a goalie.
"He didn't do that, but I just tried something special today," Niederreiter told me.
Niederreiter didn't score again after his glove-toss goal. "After the second one I had no idea what to do different," he said. "I couldn't beat that move."
The most common theme of the night was all the fun for the players.
"A great time, a great bunch of guys," said Brock Beukeboom. "It's something you'll never forget, something you'll always look back on. It's just a huge honor to look back on."
"It's just fun, skills are fun," added Alexander Burmistrov, the night's fastest skater. "Tomorrow's game, same -- fun."
Taylor Hall said the highlight for him was being on the ice again with former Windsor teammates Andrew Yogan (Erie) and Austin Watson (Peterborough).
Tomorrow's game will be fun, but it also will be fierce. It'll be all-star rosters, but they certainly won't play your typical all-star game. There will be lots of hitting, lots of pushing and shoving and maybe even a fight.
You can catch the game on NHL Network in the U.S. or Rogers SportsNet in Canada. Or you can follow along at this little corner of the blogosphere.
NHL.com in the line of fire
01.19.2010 | 8:46 p.m. ET
Here at NHL.com we take our job very seriously. Not even a puck in the face can stop our crack staff. Ace cameraman Tom Yowe was dinged in the eye by an errant puck during the accuracy shooting contest -- there's a bit of irony there -- but I can report he's OK, and is back shooting as we speak.
According to his partner, Evan Neel, Yowe needed "two or three" stitches, in the corner of his eye, but got sewn up and is back at work. Didn't even break his glasses, which also is fortuitous.
Showdown Breakaway Relay
01.19.2010 | 8:30 p.m. ET
Give credit to some pretty creative shooters, but the best had to be the Portland Winterhawks' Nino Niederreiter. His best came in the second round, when he skated in, pulled off his glove and threw it at goalie Maxime Clermont and shot the puck behind it.
The Erie Otters' Andrew Yogan also gets full marks for his between-the-legs backhander that he put under the crossbar and shot so hard it wedged itself in the top of the net.
Niederreiter and the Kitchener Rangers' Jeff Skinner advanced to the second round for Team Orr, while Yogan and the Montreal Juniors' Louis-Marc Aubry went to the second round for Team Cherry.
Niederreiter and Skinner had the better scores in the second round, so give Team Orr two more points and a 5-3 lead.
We're on to the 3-on-3 game, so more in a bit.
01.19.2010 | 7:54 p.m. ET
It came down to a tiebreaker after three players hit four of six targets. For Team Orr, the Owen Sound Attack's Steven Shipley and the Moose Jaw Warriors Quinton Howden, and Team Cherry's Devante Smith-Pelley of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors finished tied.
In round 2 of the tiebreaker, with the players shooting from the Home Hardware logo just inside the blue line, Howden took the prize when he hit the target in the bottom right corner of the net on his fifth shot. Shipley and Pelley-Smith missed all of their chances.
Give Team Orr a point for Howden's win, and another for winning the overall contest. Other Team Orr shooters were the Ottawa 67's Ryan Martindale (2-for-8), and the Rimouski Oceanic's Petr Straka (3-7). For Team Cherry, the other shooters were Rimouski's Jakub Culek (4-8), the Portland Winterhawks' Troy Rutkowski (3-8) and the Kamloops Blazers' Austin Madaisky (3-7).
Next up after they resurface the ice is the Showdown Breakaway Contest. That one should generate lots of video views.
01.19.2010 | 7:39 p.m. ET
Give the nod to Sault Ste. Mary's Brock Beukeboom -- son of Jeff -- who put up a pair of 92.4 mph shots. He edged the Moose Jaw Warriors' Dylan McIlrath, who's best was 91.8 mph.
Beukeboom's individual win also helped Team Cherry win the team competition, as Beukeboom, the Portland Winterhawks' Ryan Johanson (90.8), Sault teammate Brandon Archibald (90.6) and Portland's Brad Ross (87.1) averaged 90.225 mph.
For Team Orr, the Shawinigan Cataractes' Michal Bournival went 89.5 mph; the Calgary Hitmen's Matt MacKenzie clocked 84.1 mph, and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies' Jerome Leduc shot it 89.6 mph.
Accuracy shot is next. Stay tuned.
01.19.2010 | 7:26 p.m. ET
The Barrie Colts' Alexander Burmistrov shredded the ice and the hopes of the home fans when he tore around the ice in 14.260 seconds. He finished just ahead of local favorite Taylor Hall, who clocked in at 14.422 seconds. Hall's Spitfires teammate Cam Fowler was third at 14.612 seconds, with the Edmonton Oil Kings' Mark Pysyk a close fourth at 14.652 seconds.
Team Orr and Team Cherry each get a goal, Burmistrov for Team Orr, and Team Cherry for having the fastest team time. Hall and Fowler clocked in for Team Cherry, with the Regina Pats' Jordan Weal going around in 14.612 seconds, and the Red Deer Rebels' Alexander Petrovic clocking 14.778 seconds.
Rounding out Team Orr were the Moncton Wildcats' Brandon Gormley at 15.011, and the Belleville Bulls' Stephen Silas at 15.471
Hardest shot is next. Stay tuned.
Ready to go
01.19.2010 | 7:13 p.m. ET
Players are on the ice for intoductions. Nice crowd here at the WFCU Centre in Windsor. One of the nice things to check out in these junior buildings is the history, and they have some good history here in Windsor if the retired numbers mean anything. There's seven, including No. 6 for Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, No. 9 for former Rangers star Adam Graves and No. 4 for long-time NHL player and scout Marcel Pronovost.
Nice ovation for the Team Orr coaching staff. Bobby Orr of course gets a strong ovation, but they made lots of noise for Spitfires coach Bob Boughner.
Austin Watson, a Spitfire a week ago prior to his trade to Peterborough, got a real nice welcome back from the crowd.
And of course the last two players, Windsor's Cam Fowler and Taylor Hall, got the loudest ovations of the introductions.
We'll have more as the night goes on, so keep your computer right here.
01.19.2010 | 11:37 a.m. ET
We're down at the WFCU Centre watching the players being put through their paces on and off the ice by the folks from NexTesting. NexTesting is a service that measures all sorts of things, from height, weight and body composition to timed sprints with and without the puck.
"The goal of NexTesting is to take, 'That guy is quick,' or, 'That guy looks real fast,' and quantify that," Jenna Kraska, NexTesting's kinesiologist, told me. "We take our measurement sytem on the ice and get some numbers on thses guys and pinpoint where they're really strong or they're really weak."
It's an interesting system, and since there's no on-ice component to the NHL Combine in April, it's really the only chance the scouts will get to see hard data on certain abilities prior to the draft. I'll have more on this later for a story on NHL.com.
Welcome to Windsor!
01.18.2010 | 11:05 p.m. ET
After a long day of planes, trains and automobiles, my flight that was supposed to get me into Detroit and over to Windsor by 8 p.m. put me into my hotel by 10:30 p.m. OK, so the NHL is letting me stay at Caesar's Windsor, so that's the last complaint you'll hear out of me.
So on to the festivities, which start bright and early tomorrow. We've got the Skills Contest on Tuesday, and the Top Prospects Game Wednesday, which fans can watch live (7 p.m. ET) on the NHL Network in the U.S., and Rogers SportsNet in Canada. Or, you can follow along right here at this blog. I'll also be blogging during the skills contest, as well as the daily media availabilities with the players and celebrity coaches Don Cherry and Bobby Orr.
Speaking of the skills contest, here's the list of which players will be participating in which events:
Team Cherry: Taylor Hall, Windsor; Jordan Weal, Regina; Cam Fowler, Windsor; Alexander Petrovic, Red Deer.
Team Orr: Brandon Gormley, Moncton; Stephen Silas, Belleville; Mark Pysyk, Edmonton; Alexander Burmistrov, Barrie.
Team Cherry: Brock Beukeboom, Sault Ste. Marie; Ryan Johansen, Portland; Brandon Archibald, Sault Ste. Marie; Brad Ross, Portland.
Team Orr: Michael Bournival, Shawinigan; Dylan McIlrath, Moose Jaw; Matt MacKenzie, Calgary; Jerome Gauthier, Rouyn-Noranda.
Team Cherry: Jakub Culek, Rimouski; Troy Rutkowski, Portland; Austin Madaisky, Kamloops; Devane Smith-Pelly, Mississauga St. Michael's.
Team Orr: Steven Shipley, Owen Sound; Ryan Martindale, Ottawa; Quinton Howden, Moose Jaw; Petr Straka, Rimouski
Showdown Breakaway Contest
Team Cherry: Ryan Spooner, Peterborough; Emerson Etem, Medicine Hat; Stanislav Galiev, Saint John; Louis-Marc Aubry, Montreal; Austin Watson, Peterborough; Andrew Yogan, Erie.
Team Orr: Tyler Toffoli, Ottawa; Jeff Skinner, Kitchener; Nino Niederreiter, Portland; John McFarland, Sudbuy; Joey Hishon, Owen Sound; Tyler Seguin, Plymouth.
The Showdown Breakaway Contest is the new event this year. It will feature six players per team taking two attempts on goal before a panel of four celebrity judges that will score each attempt based on creativity, originality, degree of difficulty, execution, showmanship, and the ability to score. Celebrity judges include former NHL player and Windsor Spitfires Vice-President and General Manager Warren Rychel; Windsor defenseman and 2009 first-round draft pick Ryan Ellis; retired NHL tough guy and Windsor native Bob Probert, and Rogers SportsNet's Rob Faulds.
This should be a fun affair, with things starting at 7 p.m. ET. Stay tuned to this blog for all the details.