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Injury replacements named for Top Prospects Game

by Mike G. Morreale
The Canadian Hockey League on Wednesday announced that three players have been added to the rosters for the 2012 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, scheduled for Jan. 31 and Feb. 1 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, B.C.

All three players represent the Western Hockey League.

Center Mike Winther of the Prince Albert Raiders and left wing Tim Bozon of the Kamloops Blazers will be added to the Team Cherry roster, while right wing Branden Troock of the Seattle Thunderbirds will play for Team Orr. 

The three players replace injured Ontario Hockey League prospects Nail Yakupov (knee) of the Sarnia Sting, Jarrod Maidens (concussion-like symptoms) of the Owen Sound Attack, and Matia Marcantuoni (upper body) of the Kitchener Rangers.

The injuries shouldn't affect the high-end draft status of the injured prospects. Yakupov is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters for the 2012 NHL Draft. Maidens is No. 21 and Marcantuoni is No. 42.

The two-night affair features a skills contest on Jan. 31 and the Top Prospects Game on Feb. 1. Former NHL coach Pat Quinn and three-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi will coach the teams.

Winther, rated No. 26 by Central Scouting, is in his second season with the Raiders. In 45 games this season, he has 39 points, including a team-leading 22 goals. Bozon, No. 39 on Central Scouting's list, is tied for first among WHL rookies in scoring with 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points in 44 games.

Troock, ranked No. 90 by Central Scouting, has 14 points in 34 games. 

Last week, the CHL announced that Vancouver Giants defenseman Brett Kulak, No. 67 on Central Scouting's midterm list, would replace injured Slater Koekkoek of the Peterborough Petes.

Koekkoek suffered a shoulder injury midway through the third period of a 6-3 loss to the Windsor Spitfires on Nov. 27 after being hit along the boards while reaching for the puck. He's scheduled to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery Jan. 20.

In 26 games his season, Koekkoek, who is No. 17 on Central Scouting's list, has 5 goals and 18 points.

Kulak, a 6-foot-0.25, 174-pound native of Stony Plain, Alta., is in his second season with the Western Hockey League's Giants. He has 4 goals, 11 points and a plus-22 rating in 42 games.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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