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5 things learned from All-American Prospects Game

Savage looking to emulate Matthews as next Arizona-raised player selected high in NHL Draft

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- Here are five things we learned from the sixth CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at KeyBank Center on Thursday.



[RELATED: Tkachuk stars in All-American Prospects Game | Haapala 'ready as I can be' for jump to NHL]


1. Savage inspired by Matthews

Forward Ryan Savage of Fargo in the United States Hockey League hopes to become another Arizona-raised NHL success story.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, born in Northern California, was the first Arizona-raised player --and seventh American -- to be taken No. 1 when the Maple Leafs selected him in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Savage (5-foot-10, 187 pounds), a player to watch for the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas, made a nice impression with two goals on four shots to help lead Team Brian Leetch to a 6-5 victory against Team Chris Chelios in the sixth CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game at KeyBank Center on Thursday.

"There's a lot of good guys coming out of Arizona now so I'm excited to see where it's going to go," Savage said. "It was pretty cool watching [Matthews] grow up. I got to see when he was playing in Arizona and then watching him get drafted into the NHL was so surreal."

Savage was born in Montreal but moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, when he was six months old. He is the son of former NHL player Brian Savage, who played 12 NHL seasons for the Montreal Canadiens, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. Savage will attend Miami (Ohio) University in 2019-20.

"Hockey in Arizona is growing a lot; there are a bunch of rinks popping up now and a lot more players are starting to play just because they're surrounded by it," Savage said. "Lots of Canadians are moving down there because it's warm, too."

Forwards Brady Tkachuk (Boston University), Jacob Pivonka (USA U-18, USHL), Blake McLaughlin (Grand Rapids, USHL) and Jack Randl (Omaha, USHL) also scored for Team Leetch. Paul Cotter (Lincoln, USHL), Oliver Wahlstrom (USA U-18), Jay O'Brien (Thayer Academy, HIGH-MA), Jack Perbix (Elk River, HIGH-MN) and Ryan O'Reilly (Madison, USHL) scored for Team Chelios.

Tkachuk (6-2, 194), the son of former NHL player Keith Tkachuk and brother of Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, scored the game-winning goal with 5:07 remaining in the third period. The Boston University freshman was named player of the game.

Jonathan Mor (USA U-18) and Jake Kucharski (Des Moines, USHL) combined for 24 saves for Team Leetch. Drew DeRidder (USA U-18) and Ben Kraws (Buffalo, T1EHL) combined for 26 saves for Team Chelios.


2. Family ties

There were nine players whose fathers played in the NHL.

Forwards Tkachuk (Keith Tkachuk), Jack Drury (Ted Drury), Jonathan Gruden (John Gruden), Philippe Lapointe (Martin Lapointe) and Jacob Pivonka (Michal Pivonka), and defensemen Mattias Samuelsson (Kjell Samuelsson), Christian and Cole Krygier (Todd Krygier), and Adam Samuelsson (Ulf Samuelsson).

"Nowadays, you keep an eye on friends and their kids so I've known these guys were coming to play in the game," Leetch said. "It's great to see Matthew [Tkachuk] in Calgary and seeing Brady [Tkachuk] here. There are a lot of players I played with or against that have kids out here, and this is just two teams. It's actually kind of fun to coach them and see them."


3. Hughes enjoys time with Leetch

Defenseman Quinton Hughes, a projected top 10 choice in the 2018 NHL Draft, said Leetch, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, didn't have to say much as his coach to make an impression.

"Just listening to him talk in the locker room was a cool experience," said Hughes, a freshman at the University of Michigan. "He's a very calm speaker. I have a public speaking class at Michigan so if there's one thing that I really took from [Leetch] it would be how great a speaker he was."

Hughes (5-9, 167) has a good chance of representing the United States in the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo. He's spent the past three weeks at Michigan, preparing for the season-opener against St. Lawrence in Canton, New York, on Oct. 6. Hughes is majoring in sports management.

"I think Michigan was the best place for me," he said. "I think the college game is very close to the pro game since I'm playing against men."


4. Home cooking

Left wing Joel Farabee of USA Hockey Under-18 National Team Development Program was the only player from New York and took advantage of the opportunity in front of family and friends.

Farabee, who is from Cicero, about three hours east of Buffalo, had an assist and two shots for Team Chelios. He set up Wahlstrom, his national team teammate, in the second period to tie the game 2-2. Playing so close to where he grew up meant a lot to Farabee.

"It's definitely special," he said. "I don't really get to play close to home much during the season (since the USNTDP is in Plymouth, Michigan), but it's just kind of the luck of the draw. Last year [the game] was in [Philadelphia] so the Philly guys got the spotlight there a little bit, but it's just a little lucky that it was in Buffalo for me."


5. Wahlstrom motivated

Wahlstrom is using the disappointment of being one of 10 players cut by the United States from the World Junior Summer Showcase development camp in August as motivation.

Wahlstrom (6-0, 205), a forward with a tremendous shot, had one goal and led Team Chelios with six shots. He said he learned a lot in his short stint at the summer showcase and will push even harder to earn an invitation to USA Hockey select camp in December.

The Summer Showcase is the first step in picking the United States roster for the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Buffalo.

"The key is getting right back after it," Wahlstrom said. "It was a good learning experience; learning how to go through adversity. I guess there's a possibility I could be invited to select camp but I'm just taking it one step at a time. I just have to focus on our game on Saturday (at Muskegon)."

Wahlstrom, expected to be selected in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft, had a goal and three shots in the season opener against Minnesota of the North American Hockey League. Wahlstrom is committed to Harvard University in 2018-19. Correspondent Joe Yerdon contributed to this report

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