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Team Orr holds 3-1 lead in Top Prospects Game

by Mike G. Morreale /
Sven Baertschi and Jonathan Huberdeau connected for second-period goals and Team Orr holds a 3-1 victory over Team Cherry after 40 minutes in the 2011 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Air Canada Centre.

Team Orr opened a 2-0 lead 5:28 into the second when Baertschi of the Portland Winterhawks snapped home a shot from the left circle off a picturesque pass from Red Deer's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins from the opposite wing. Zack Phillips of the Saint John Sea Dogs also notched an assist on the play.

The goal came on Team Orr's fifth shot of the game. Team Cherry goalie Christopher Gibson would finish with 8 saves on 11 shots before he and Team Orr goalie Liam Liston (18 saves) were relieved at the 9:30 mark. Huberdeau (Saint John) knocked home a shot off a rebound to give Team Orr a 3-0 lead just before Gibson was pulled. Kitchener's David Musil took the initial shot from the point that Huberdeau picked up before moving to his left and sweeping his shot home.

Team Cherry pulled within 3-1 at 11:59 when Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's collected a drop pass from Ty Rattie (Portland) and ripped a shot past Jordan Binnington (Owen Sound). Prince was a late invite to the Top Prospects Game as a replacement for injured Kitchener captain Gabriel Landeskog (high ankle sprain).

The best hit of the night came with 5:10 remaining in the second when Niagara defenseman Dougie Hamilton stood up Prince just inside his defensive zone that knocked over the shifty native of Spencerport. N.Y. With 33.6 seconds left in the second, a spirited fight between Team Cherry defender Duncan Siemens (Saskatoon Blades) and David Musil (Vancouver) brought the fans out of their seats.

Siemens was apparently upset over a collision behind his own net with Baertschi. Nugent-Hopkins, Baertschi's teammate, joined in the chat session behind the cage before Musil provided Siemens with a suitable partner. Both players got in some good shots along the Team Cherry blueline before being separated by the linesmen.

In the first, Team Orr's Daniel Catenacci (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds) proved his winning the fastest-skater event during Tuesday's skills competition was no fluke.

The 5-foot-10, 181-pound center exploded into the offensive end on a shorthanded breakaway off a quick transition, broke in on goalie Christopher Gibson of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and ripped a shot home at 11:56 to give his team a 1-0. Defenseman Reece Scarlett (Swift Current Broncos) sprung Catenacci with a nice outlet pass from his own end.

Catenacci, who won the fastest-skater competition in 14.017 on Tuesday night, broke in and went backhand-forehand before sliding a shot into the right-hand corner with just four seconds left in the Team Cherry power-play.

Brandon Wheat Kings goalie Liam Liston, who leads all Western Hockey League rookie goalies with 11 victories this season, stopped 13 shots to post a shutout in the opening 20 minutes for Team Orr. He had several big stops, including one off Team Cherry sniper Ryan Strome (Niagara IceDogs) with his left blocker off a slap shot from between the circles and another off the stick of highly-touted Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Sean Couturier off a left-circle whistler.

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