KELOWNA, B.C. -- Branden Troock certainly made the most of his time at the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Troock, a right wing with the Seattle Thunderbirds, set up Team Orr's first goal and scored the game-winner with 24.5 seconds left to give Team Orr a 2-1 victory against Team Cherry. Not bad for a player only added as an injury replacement.
"It's just an honor to be named to this team at any point," said Troock, who took home a Jim Gregory Award for being named Team Orr's player of the game "It's a great experience and you learn a lot from the coaches and playing on the same ice with all these skilled players. It's just such an honor."
For Troock, playing at all is something special. The 6-foot-2, 174-pound forward missed almost two full seasons due to a serious neck injury. He played just nine games in 2009-10 and sat out all last season recovering.
Troock initially was injured by a hard hit to the head during a game on Oct. 31, 2009. The injury first was believed to be a concussion, but after visiting multiple doctors and specialists, was diagnosed as a neck injury -- a nerve that ran from his neck to his eyes was causing migraine headaches that mirrored concussion symptoms. Acupuncture treatments at a clinic in Seattle helped heal the issue, and Troock has been fully healthy this season.
The Edmonton native has eight goals and six assists in 34 games and is No. 90 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft.
"I didn't really put any expectations on myself seeing as I missed all last year," Troock said. "I just wanted to come in here and do my best."
He had the chance to showcase his skills for scouts from all 30 NHL teams Wednesday here at Prospera Place.
On the winning goal, Troock took a pass from Tanner Pearson, cut around a defenseman and drove to the net. He cut through the slot and roofed a backhander over Team Cherry goalie Matthew Murray.
"When I came off the bench, I knew there were only 30 seconds left and I saw Pouliot coming up the middle with the puck," Troock said. "I just tried to get my feet moving and calling for the puck on the outside. As soon as I got over the blue line I had a step on the (defenseman) so I knew I was taking it to the net and trying to get a greasy one."
He also helped set up the play that led to Griffin Reinhart's game-opening goal.
Troock could have had even more offensively, but missed an open net in the second period, leading Team Orr coach Pat Quinn to pull the young forward aside and give him some advice.
"Pat took him aside between periods and told him you better hit the net the next time you have an opportunity," Team Orr assistant coach Don Hay said. "He's a good listener, so that's a real positive thing."
"In between the second and third he called me over into the hallway," Troock said of Hay. "When I missed that net there in the second period when I was aiming for the top right, he said you had a hole … you could fit a rocket in there. Then I just wanted to get to the net."
It worked out for Troock and for Team Orr.
"I thought Branden was very good," said Hay, who knows Troock well as coach of the rival Vancouver Giants. "I thought Branden really stepped up and scored a huge goal at the right time."
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK