WINDSOR, Ont. -- There wasn't much time to put in systems, but Team Cherry used a strong penalty kill to score a pair of shorthanded goals, including the game-winner, in a 4-2 win against Team Orr at the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game here at the WFCU Centre.
Ryan Spooner's man-down goal at 11:55 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie, and
Louis Marc-Aubry iced the game with an empty-net goal in the game's final minute.
The game was a hard-hitting, physical affair that looked nothing like the typical All-Star game, even though both rosters were stocked with likely future NHL All-Stars. There were a pair of fights -- Alexander Petrovic and Dylan McIlrath in the second period, and Andrew Yogan and Matt MacKenzie in the third.
"If you don't think there isn't intensity in these games, you should be on the bench and in the dressing room," Cherry said.
Brandon Archibald broke up a play in the defensive zone, and Hall and Spooner were able to break out on an odd-man rush.
"Our d-man broke the play up in our zone," Hall said. "I knew right away that if I got speed it would be a 2-on-1. I saw the d-man was out of position a little bit. I faked the shot, slid it over to him (Spooner) and he put it in an open net."
Five seconds after the goal, Petrovic was sent off for delay of game, leaving Team Cherry down two men with a one-goal lead. With Austin Watson leading the way by blocking a pair of shots, Team Cherry was able to kill off the penalties.
"That's the game," Cherry said. "I hate to say, some guys in the National Hockey League are pulling flamingos and here are these guys blocking shots like that. Shows the heart of these guys. He really got the first one on the ankle, and he got the other one, I think that was the turning point of the game. We kill that penalty and the way he did it was unbelievable. You should have heard how the bench was cheering for him."
Watson, who hopped to the post-game press conference with a bag of ice taped to his ankle, said that's just part of the game.
"It's 5-on-3, it's hard for anybody to kill that off," Watson said. "I did it (killed penalties) a lot in Windsor. Just try to get into shot lanes. Fortunately or unfortunately I got in front of a few, and that was a big kill for our team."
Hall, so good on the ice, proved he's just as good off of it by taking control of the situation.
"I think Hallsie told Killer (assistant coach Brian Kilrea) to put me out there for the full two (minutes)," Watson said. "I think Hallsie ran the show on that one."
Hall didn't want take too much credit for instructing a Hall of Fame bench boss.
"He's the best shot-blocker in probably the OHL, maybe the CHL," Hall said. "He's fearless. I told Killer, you might not know this guy, but he blocks shots like nobody's business, so put him in there."
It wasn't the only big moment on the penalty kill for Team Cherry. Niederreiter's goal at 17:22 of the first period, on a shot that squeezed between goalie Calvin Pickard's pads and trickled across the goal line, gave Team Orr the early lead. But after a penalty to Brad Ross for charging, Team Cherry tied the game on a nice goal by Etem. He carried the puck out of his zone along the right wall, cut around Brandon Gormley and shot across to the left wing, and he fired a shot from the top of the left circle that beat goalie Louis Domingue.
"I just dumped it off the glass there and he took off with it," Petrovic said.
Skinner, who leads the OHL with 35 goals this season, gave Team Orr a short-lived lead when he tipped a Gormley point shot past Maxime Clermont at 6:07 of the third.
Just 34 seconds later, however, Weal tied it when he tipped a Petrovic shot behind Domingue at 6:41. Devante Smith-Pelley passed across to Petrovic at the point. He shot it into traffic in front, where Weal was able to re-direct it.
"I just joined the play late," Weal told NHL.com. "We got the puck up to the point, went over to Petro and he just threw a little wrister on net, I was in the right position and tried to get at little wood on it, tip it on goal and it found the back of the net."
The standing $100 bet between the coaches wasn't settled at the post-game press conference as it was last year in Oshawa, but even in defeat, Orr was impressed by efforts of all the players involved.
"It was a wonderful hockey game," Orr said. "These 40 kids, they're the future of the NHL and every kid represented himself very well."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org