HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Despite being the last replacement player added to the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, Laurent Dauphin of the Chicoutimi Sangueneens was determined to prove he belonged among the elite draft-eligible standouts.
The 6-foot, 166-pound left wing of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League did just that on Wednesday when he struck for a goal and an assist to earn player of the game for Team Orr in a 3-0 victory against Team Cherry at the Metro Centre in the 18th annual event.
"The first 10 minutes, we were overwhelmed, but we fought back and I must say in my 14 years coaching in the game, that first period was the best period I've ever been involved with," Team Cherry coach Don Cherry said. "I thought it was a heck of a hockey game. It had fights, hits and goals. You can't ask for more than that."
Orr goaltenders Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) and Philippe Desrosiers of the Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) combined for 20 saves to notch the first shutout at the Top Prospects Game. The Orr defense, led by Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) and Nikita Zadorov of the London Knights (OHL), played a spirited game while frustrating those Halifax fans in attendance hoping to see their hometown heroes earn the spotlight.
Team Orr received goals from three different players -- Dauphin, Adam Erne of the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) and Nicolas Petan of Portland. The winners outshot Team Cherry, 36-20.
The fans were ready from the get-go when Halifax forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin and goalie Zachary Fucale were introduced as starters. MacKinnon is ranked No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of North American skaters and Drouin is rated third. Fucale was the No. 1-ranked goalie in North America at the midterm.
Despite allowing three goals on 20 shots, Fucale did play admirably and made several big stops. Martin, No. 5 among North American goalies, was splendid at the other end for Team Orr in turning aside all 16 shots he faced.
Coaches Mike McPhee (Team Orr) and Cherry relieved their starting goalies with 8:39 remaining in the second. The second half replacement for Orr was Desrosiers, who finished with four saves.
Tristan Jarry (Edmonton, WHL), Cherry's player of the game, denied all 16 shots he faced for Cherry to close out the game. Jarry, No. 3 on the North American goalie list, was especially sharp late in the third when he had a sequence of three consecutive stops from in tight with his pad and glove.
Orr opened a 3-0 lead in the second on two early goals in a span of 3:17.
Dauphin, who was contacted to replace Medicine Hat Tigers forward Hunter Shinkaruk (ill) on Monday, connected 4:07 into the second when he skated over the blue line and ripped a shot from between the circles that beat Fucale to his glove hand.
"It was a great experience for me," Dauphin said. "I was not supposed to be here, but (I) got the call and did my best out there. I was at my billet [when I got the call]. I was very surprised because the game was in two days. I actually forgot about the game."
Dauphin is ranked No. 41 among North Americans on Central Scouting's midterm report.
"I just wanted to prove that I had my place here, and that I was as good as everybody else."
Petan made it 2-0 when he zipped a shot from the left hash that beat Fucale low into the left corner of the cage at the 7:24 mark.
"Our line had some chemistry there," Erne told NHL.com. "Dauphin is a good offensive guy and likes the puck and I've played with Nick [Sorensen] before. It was a super game."
The second period ended with a bone-rattling hit delivered by Zadorov on Cherry's Anthony Mantha (Val-d'Or, QMJHL) along the wall at center ice.
"I thought all of our defensemen played well," Team Orr head coach Mike McPhee said. "Nikita Zadorov played a really good game. He had some big hits; he was a big defenseman."
"The first 10 minutes, we were overwhelmed, but we fought back and I must say in my 14 years coaching in the game, that first period was the best period I've ever been involved with. I thought it was a heck of a hockey game. It had fights, hits and goals. You can't ask for more than that." -- Team Cherry coach Don Cherry
McPhee was also impressed with the poise exhibited by Jones, the No. 1-ranked North American skater on Central Scouting's list.
"He's cool and a leader and you could see him talking to the players on the bench and saying things," McPhee said. "He doesn't panic and is good with the puck. I was really impressed mostly by his composure."
Less than two minutes into the second, Cherry defenseman Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) and Orr's Curtis Lazar (Edmonton, WHL) dropped the gloves and went at it in the Cherry zone. Nurse (6-3, 189 pounds) won the decision over the game 5-11, 193-pound forward from the Oil Kings. Nurse, who had a solid game throughout, is No. 9 on Central's midterm ranks.
Orr opened a 1-0 lead 3:39 into the first when Erne of Quebec (QMJHL) jumped on a loose puck low in the left circle and hit the back of the net behind Fucale to the dismay of all Mooseheads fans in attendance. Dauphin and Jones assisted on the play.
"Our goalies played phenomenal," Jones said. "You have to give credit to them for the shutout. They kind of set the temp in the defensive end and I thought our defensive zone coverage was pretty good against some talented forwards."
Erne, No. 13 on Central Scouting's North American list, almost extended the lead moments later when he broke in one-on-one against Fucale, but was denied by the Mooseheads keeper to a rousing ovation.
Cherry forward Ryan Hartman of the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) and Kerby Rychel of the Windsor Spitfires (OHL) dropped the gloves and unleashed some haymakers in a spirited scrap at 11:44 of the first. Rychel ended the fight by landing on top of Hartman, a gold medal-winner for the United States National Junior Team at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Hartman, who opened on Cherry's top line alongside MacKinnon and Drouin, was credited with the game's first big hit on Dauphin at the Orr blue line less than 30 seconds into the contest.
"I never knew Hartman was that big of a hitter," MacKinnon said. "Every time he hit somebody, he got the better of it, so he's definitely a good guy to play with. We had some chemistry on our line."