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Orr tops Cherry at CHL/NHL Top Prospects skills contest

by Adam Kimelman

"He was telling me before the game the hardest he ever shot was 98.7.  But back then they were using wooden sticks. … I'm not that far behind hm. It's something for me to aim towards, if I can beat the old man."
-- Brock Beukeboom

WINDSOR, Ont. -- Some of the best players available for the 2010 Entry Draft had a chance to show their wares during the skills contest at the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Skills Competition.
Among the top-rated players getting to showcase themselves in front of the crowd here at the WFCU Centre was the Windsor Spitfires' Cam Fowler and Taylor Hall, the Plymouth Whalers' Tyler Seguin, and the Moncton Wildcats' Brandon Gormley.
Team Orr won the competition, topping Team Cherry by a 23-17 margin.
The game is a preview of the Top Prospects Game, to be played here Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Rogers SportsNet).
Among the individual winners Tuesday night was the Barrie Colts' Alexander Burmistrov in the fastest skater race; Sault Ste. Marie's Brock Beukeboom in the hardest shot contest; the Moose Jaw Warriors' Quinton Howden in the accuracy shooting contest; and the Kitchener Rangers' Jeff Skinner in the Showdown Breakaway Challenge.
The Showdown Breakaway Challenge debuted this year, and there was no shortage of highlight-reel attempts.
The most creative was the Portland Winterhawks' Nino Niederreiter, the hero for Switzerland at the World Junior Championship.
On his second attempt, Niederreiter, skating for Team Orr, threw his right glove at goalie Maxime Clermont and scored behind the distraction. The goal earned perfect 10 scores from three of the judges -- Windsor Spitfires defenseman and 2009 first-round Entry Draft pick Ryan Ellis; former NHL player and Windsor GM/owner Warren Rychel; and Rogers SportsNet's Rob Faulds. The toughest judge was former NHL enforcer and Windsor native Bob Probert, who gave Niederreiter a 9.
"The one-handed shot, I saw it the first time was Alex Kovalev, in the Warrior movie," Niederreiter told "He did the one-handed shot every time and I wanted to learn that." Kovalev never threw his glove at the goalie, which Niederreiter said was his own idea.
"He didn't do that, but I just tried something special today," he said.
Skinner, also skating for Team Orr, won the event thanks to his top-shelf goal after he pulled the puck out from between his skates. He pulled a similar move in the second round, which clinched him the individual title, and gave Team Orr the extra point for the team competition.
Burmistrov, playing for Team Orr, edged Team Cherry's Hall in the speed skating race, making a lap of the rink in 14.260 seconds, with Hall a close second in 14.422 seconds. Fowler, also skating for Team Cherry, was third at 14.422.
"It was very surprising for me," said Burmistrov. "It was good. I like the skating."
Hall, one of the favorites to go first at the 2010 Entry Draft in Los Angeles, got one of the loudest ovations from his hometown fans.
"It's always nice to playing front of the hometown fans, in front of my billets," he said.
Hall thought he had a shot at the top time, and believed he could have gone even faster.
"I didn't think I went as fast as I should have," said Hall. "I was going pretty hard, but the time wasn't what I would have liked."
Team Cherry's Beukeboom, son of former NHL defenseman Jeff Beukeboom, scorched a pair of 92.4 MPH shots to win the hardest shot competition. The Moose Jaw Warriors' Dylan McIlrath, skating for Team Orr, was second at 91.8 MPH.
As nice as the win was for Beukeboom, he didn't come close to matching what his dad said was his hardest shot.
"He was telling me before the game the hardest he ever shot was 98.7," said Beukeboom, "but back then they were using wooden sticks. … I'm not that far behind hm. It's something for me to aim towards, if I can beat the old man."
Howden, skating for Team Orr, won the longest competition of the night, the accuracy contest. Howden needed just six shots to break the four targets, which tied him with Team Orr teammate Steven Shipley of the Owen Sound Attack, and Team Cherry's Devante Smith-Pelley of the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors.
In the first round of the tiebreaker, both players hit the lone target on the first try. They next moved back from the high slot to just inside the blue line, where only Howden was able to hit the one target, in the bottom right corner of the net.
"At the end there I felt we were defensemen trying to shoot from the blue line," Howden said. "I'm not used to shooting from that far away."
The final event of the night was a three-on-three game, with two 15-minute periods of running time. Team Orr, led by 3 goals by the Sudbury Wolves' John McFarland, won it, 18-14, to clinch the victory for his squad.

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