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Connor: Final thoughts on USHL Top Prospects Game

by Kyle Connor / NHL.com

Kyle Connor, who was given an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's players to watch list for the 2015 NHL Draft, is in his third season with the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League in 2014-15. Committed to the University of Michigan in 2015-16, the 6-foot-1, 182-pound center has 12 goals and 34 points in 27 games with the Phantoms this season. Connor, who had one assist and three shots on goal in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 25, has offered to maintain a blog for NHL.com leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. His latest entry is after a 7-4 win for Team East at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Dubuque, Iowa.

Hello from the Team East locker room at Mystique Community Ice Center in Iowa!

Kyle Connor Youngstown Phantoms USHL
Dan Marr Director of NHL Central Scouting (Courtesy: USHL)

Team East defeated Team West at the USHL Top Prospects Game on Tuesday. I thought it was a real high-paced game out there and everyone was competing really hard. Overall, I thought it was a great atmosphere before a sellout crowd in Dubuque so it was a really fun place to play.

I think this was a good chance to show what you could do out there, and I thought I was able to create some opportunities for myself and my linemates.

I'm really happy for Kevin Conley, my teammate at Youngstown. He was named most valuable player for Team East. He works really hard and deserves everything he gets and he played great out there, scoring twice.

Before the game, I think the guys were just excited and just wanted to get out on the ice, play and win. That's what it's all about. The guys wanted to go out there and compete and try to get the win for East. I thought our goalies played really well. [Ryan] Larkin played great in the first period for us even though the West outshot us (40-29) for the game. My teammate at Youngstown [goalie Chris Birdsall] played really well for the West. I go against him every day in practice and he's a great goalie and did very well.

Besides the actual hockey and having an opportunity to get out there and skate around, one of the most memorable moments for me over the past two days at the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game was listening to Ed Olczyk speak to us during the luncheon (on Tuesday afternoon). As the keynote speaker it was really special to hear his thoughts on hockey and life in general. Everyone knows how famous he is and his great resume. But to hear someone like that talk to us about the USHL and his experiences from this league really meant a lot to me and everyone in that room.

The USHL has been such a great league and it has really helped me develop on and off the ice as a person. That was what Mr. Olczyk stressed in his keynote speech to all of us.

I'm not going to say I'm not thinking about the NHL Draft now that we're entering the second half of the USHL season. But I'm still not trying to think about it too much and concentrate on what I need to do to help Youngstown by going to practice and games, and trying to get better every day. Once the draft arrives, then we can just concentrate on that.

Follow Kyle Connor on Twitter: @KyleConnor18

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