Goalie Eamon McAdam of the Waterloo Black Hawks in the United States Hockey League stole the show Wednesday with 11 saves in 30-plus minutes of work to earn Most Valuable Player honors and help Team West to a 2-1 victory over Team East in the USHL/NHL Top Prospects Game presented by CCM at the L.C. Walker Arena in Muskegon, Mich.
The West received a first-period goal from Conor McGlynn of the Sioux City Musketeers and a second-period tally by Jason Cotton of the Tri-City Storm to open a two-goal cushion. McAdam was replaced with 9:20 remaining in the second by Waterloo teammate Cal Petersen, who yielded one goal on 21 shots.
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McAdam, ranked No. 7 in NHL Central Scouting's midterm release of the top North American draft-eligible goalies, was asked after the game if there was a little more on the line for both goalies on such a grand stage.
"Maybe there was a little [rivalry] but nothing crazy, just competitive," McAdam said. "Obviously, Cal gave up a goal, but there was nothing he could do about that. We're happy he played a great game too."
Petersen is ranked No. 4 in Central Scouting's midterm report. The talented Waterloo duo has combined for 23 wins this season, with McAdam holding the slight edge with 12.
East forward John Hayden of the U.S. National Team Development Program pulled his club within one at 15:08 of the third when he controlled a rebound at the top of the crease and jammed a shot past Petersen. Defenseman Ben Storm of the Muskegon Lumberjacks took the initial shot from the left point that Petersen could not handle. Hayden, committed to Yale University and ranked No. 59 in Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters, was named MVP for Team East.
The East pulled its goalie for an extra attacker with less than a minute remaining and did pester Petersen, but could not get the equalizer.
Earlier in the third, Australian-raised Nathan Walker of the Youngstown Phantoms, who was named a replacement for teammate Austin Cangelosi (ill), just missed when he sped down his right wing before cutting to the crease and firing a shot that Petersen neatly steered into the left corner. Walker, who is in his first USHL season, had an impressive outing for the East, showcasing plenty of speed and stick skills.
The most spectacular play of the game, however, was made by McAdam with less than five minutes remaining in the first period and his team clinging to a 1-0 lead.
With Team East working the puck deep while on the power play, McAdam robbed Michael Brodzinski of the hometown Lumberjacks. Brodzinski took a pass in the right circle and appeared to have a wide-open net. McAdam somehow dove to his left and caught the puck in the mesh of his glove.
"Oh my God … he [makes a save like that] every once in a while in practice but that's the first time I've seen it in a game, so I was happy for him," Waterloo defenseman Ian McCoshen said of his teammate.
McAdam, who has won seven of his past eight starts for the Black Hawks, also made a nice poke check to halt a breakaway attempt by East forward Thomas Ebbing of the Chicago Steel early in the second.
Cotton gave the West a 2-0 lead 1:53 into the second when he took a no-look pass from Tri-City teammate Garrett Gamez in the high slot and ripped a shot into the top left corner past East starting goalie Charlie Lindgren of the Sioux Falls Stampede.
"We had a good forecheck going on that goal, and I got a great pass from Gammer," said Cotton, who is bound for Northeastern University in the fall of 2014.
Team West opened a 1-0 lead 4:45 into the opening period when the all-Sioux City trio of McGlynn, Jake Guentzel and Jake Montgomery worked their magic low in the offensive zone. After gathering a pass in the left circle, Guentzel fed McGlynn in the slot and the forward made no mistake on a quick release past Lindgren.
"I was just standing in front of the net and just whacked it in," McGlynn said. "It was nice to play on the same line with my teammates from Sioux City … we have that connection and it helped a lot."
Lindgren did have a solid period, turning back USHL scoring leader Taylor Cammarata of Waterloo midway through the period off a 3-on-1 breakout. Lindgren, who leads all USHL goalies with 19 wins, finished his 30-plus minutes of action with 13 saves on 15 shots.
"The thing that all scouts like about the USHL is that every game you attend is a competitive one. There may be teams stronger than others, but the work ethic is there every night and that's what we like. The coaches are quality coaches who are committed to developing these young men and scouts recognize and appreciate that." -- Central Scouting director Dan Marr
Chicago goalie Alex Sakellaropulos stopped all nine shots in relief of Lindgren.
The best hit of the game was delivered by West forward Justin Kloos of Waterloo, who decked Michael Downing of the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the neutral zone. Kloos, a 5-8.75, 176-pound center, is committed to the University of Minnesota next fall. To his credit, Downing (6-3, 193), No. 49 in Central Scouting's midterm rankings, did rebound with a few crunching hits of his own in the second period.
The top-ranked player at the Top Prospects Game was McCoshen, who skated with Tucker Poolman of the Omaha Lancers to form quite a top pairing for the West. McCoshen, committed to Boston College and ranked No. 21 on Central's midterm list, was credited with a few big hits. Poolman is not ranked and committed to the University of North Dakota.
"It was a good experience with all the new guys and new faces for the game and getting that chemistry going off the practice in the morning and that translated well for us in the game," McCoshen said.
The game also was highlighted by a pair of fights. The first took place 12:01 into the second when West defenseman Justin Woods of the Lincoln Stars and Hayden dropped the mitts and engaged in a spirited confrontation at the West blue line. The second scuffle came 7:01 into the third when West forward Luke Johnson, also of Lincoln, took exception to a cross-check delivered by Downing in the East end and squared off with the bigger defender.
As anticipated, many scouts and collegiate representatives were on hand to witness the second annual Top Prospects Game.
"The USHL has a unique brand of hockey in the United States in that a player has to have development time if he's going on to an NCAA program," Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. "The thing that all scouts like about the USHL is that every game you attend is a competitive one. There may be teams stronger than others, but the work ethic is there every night and that's what we like. The coaches are quality coaches who are committed to developing these young men and scouts recognize and appreciate that."